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Friday, May 12, 2017

Qasim Rashid's Christian ISIS False Equivalences

Tosh I saw being shared:

White Supremacist Asks Muslim Lawyer Why There Is No 'Christian ISIS,' Gets Schooled.

Original tweet by Qasim Rashid: A white supremacist DM'd me claiming Islam is violent & taunted me to show "where's the Christian version of Isis?"

This was my response. (proceeds to post screenshots transcribed below)

Original message by "white supremacist": Ah gotcha thanks. Where's the Christian version of ISIS and every other religion then? Asking for a friend.

Reply by Qasim Rashid: —400 years of Trans Atlantic Slave Trade that maimed, raped, killed, kidnapped, and enslaved 20 million Africans "heathens" to bring them to Christ
—Genocide of Native Americans under the name of Christ as Manifest Destiny
—Genocide of Australian Aborigines that killed 90% of their population in less than a century, again by Christian Europeans
—Salem Witch Trials
—Spanish Inquisition
—Crusades
—The Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda that has maimed, raped, & killed up to 100,000 people according to the UN, during the past 15 years, which is far more destructive than ISIS, and they've done so to establish Biblical Law as a self-described Christian organization
—In Central Africa Republic Christian Militias have destroyed every single mosque and the UN reports that Muslims are facing ethnic cleansing, with reports that Christians are cannibalizing Muslims, literally
—In America white supremacists who are self-described Christian are the single largest terror threat to American security, that's according to the FBI and 392 police agencies in a study published last year
—George Bush, a devout Christian, said God told him to invade Iraq, where by some estimates 1 million civilians were killed due to this unjust war
—The KKK still exists
—Nazis still exist
—Aryan nations still exist

So before you question any Muslim about ISIS (which btw is the result of that Iraq bombing and not the result of the Qur'an) please check yourself. Pretty sure it was Jesus who said something about motes and beams and judge not lest ye be judged.


Evidently Qasim Rashid has bad grammar

When asked "Where's the Christian version of ISIS" (i.e. "Where is [it]", in other words it's a question in the present tense asking about the world today) he mostly resorts to pulling out things that happened before anyone alive today was ever born. Yet, even if we ignore the temporal disjunction of his examples, they are fatally flawed.

First off, he starts off by conflating things done by people who happened to be Christians with things done in the name of Christianity - say what you would about the transatlantic slave trade, but religion was not a primary motivating factor.

Then somehow deaths by disease caused by a lack of acquired immunity, which Europeans had built up over generations, are equated to genocide. If that's the case, if someone gives me the flu and I die, he should be convicted for murder. To say nothing of the utter misrepresentation of Manifest Destiny, which was about American exceptionalism and not religion.

And then we have the Salem Witch Trials. Which resulted in 20 executions and 5 deaths in prison. Considering that ISIS killed 55 people in a single day in April 2017, this is almost insulting. Not to mention how mass hysteria (even if religiously-tinged) is very different from an apocalyptic theocracy with brutal restrictions on daily life.

Naturally we have the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades. While the former is the closest of his false equivalences, I will note that its death toll is estimated at 135,000 at most - over 4 centuries. And as for the latter, we all know that the spread of Islam from being confined to the Arabian Peninsula in 632 AD to the Umayyad Caliphate stretching from Spain in the West to Iran in the East just 100 years later had nothing to do with war or violence at all. In Ross Douthat's words, this is "an exercise in historical amnesia where the actual necessities of medieval geopolitics get wiped out of Western memory in favor of blanket condemnation of anyone who took the cross".

The Lord's Resistance Army? As experts on the LRA note, "the LRA has no political program or ideology, at least none that the local population has heard or can understand" (Gersony, 1997) and "the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this" (International Crisis Group, 2004). Again, this is very different from ISIS.

Central African Republic Christian militias? That simplifies a complex civil war for the sake of scoring cheap rhetorical points (hint: the Christian militias are not running around unchecked by domestic opponents like ISIS is). Don't take it from me: the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) notes that "The simplistic reduction of the conflict to the dichotomy of Islam versus Christianity... does not capture the true extent and complexity of the conflict". And while religion certainly plays a part in that conflict, I'll just note that I really doubt that rich foreigners are funding it, just like people in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others are giving ISIS money, which says something about how co-religionists outside that national context see it.

As for the white supremacists who are the largest terror threat to the USA, this seems to be a conflation of a 2014 START (Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) study which found that the Sovereign Citizen movement was law enforcement's top terrorist threat concern and a claim that white supremacists have killed more people than Islamic terrorists in the US since 9/11. Yet, as START notes, "Although most organizations group Sovereign Citizens with other right wing groups, they are quite unique. Sovereigns do not specifically share the “supremacist” views of the Klan, etc. Their focus is not on individuals (e.g., minorities, Jews, etc.) rather their focus is on government dysfunction and abuse of authority. Their anti-government ideology is arguably more akin to left wing anarchists than right wing Klansmen." Note what is not mentioned: Christianity. And the lower number of deaths attributed to Islamic Terrorism than right wingers is a result of creative accounting.

Of course the George Bush thing is just a puerile throwaway remark. For the record, he supposedly said "God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq". Not "God told me to convert all the non-Christians in Iraq to Christianity on pain of death". This of course ignores the fact that the Christian god presumably didn't tell everyone else the same thing (in contrast, it's quite assured that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not the only member of ISIS who feels driven by a religious mission).

And how can we finish a listing of Christianity's sins without mentioning the KKK, which today is a pale shadow of its former self (the Anti-Defamation League calls it "a collection of mostly small, disjointed groups with no predominant leadership or stability")? As one commenter on a site which approvingly shared this observed: "Without using your super google powers.. Tell me when the last time was that the KKK killed one person? Let alone 5. Or 15. Or 50." Not to mention how the Southern Poverty Law Center states that "in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies [other than Christianity]"

Almost at the end, we come to Nazis. Assuming he doesn't follow a common liberal definition of Nazi as anyone who disagrees with you, there aren't Nazis anymore - the modern equivalent are called Neo-Nazis. While the original Nazis had some Christian influence and institutional collusion, historical Christian anti-Semitism is the only motivation we can blame (in part) on Christianity. And how many people have Neo Nazis killed compared to ISIS?

To end off, we have the "Aryan nations". At first I had no idea what they were or were supposed to be (I thought it was a jibe at Scandinavia). Now that I have read up I find out it's some small group that never did much harm and has since declined, making it even more insignificant than it ever was. So this is an even more silly point than the KKK.

What a silly response this was. While better than the usual anti-Semitism and conspiracy theorising, it's still an appalling and deliberate ideologically twisted misreading of history.

So, first take the plank out of your brother's eye, and then you can worry at leisure about your own trivial speck-induced ocular issues.
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