"I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
- Groucho MarxI think this article could be one of the most important I have ever written on the relationship between Islam and terrorism. Why? It is because of the growing obscurantism that has made it almost impossible to have any discussion whatever about Islam without terms such as Islamophobe and Pseudo-Liberal Apologist being thrown around on the innertubes. I've never really fit into groups of any kind, and I think labels are often misleading (if sometimes also useful). So I'm not too surprised that I don't really fit neatly into any of the categories in Faisal Saeed Al Mutar's taxonomy of Anti-Muslim Bigotry vs. Genuine Criticism of Islam (Free Inquiry, vol 36 issue 1).
First, I'm nonviolent ("Muslim Conservative") and I believe in welcoming gays as equal citizens ("Muslim Moderate"). I accept that there is a link between radical interpretations of Islam and radical Islamic jihadi terrorism and advocate for liberal government and separation of religion and state (Muslim Reformer). But I'm also a non-Muslim white liberal ("Pseudo-Liberal Apologist") who thinks that there is a connection between some interpretations of the religion and bad or violent behavior, care about issues such as women’s rights and LGBT rights, and tend to differentiate between Islam as a set of ideas and interpretations and Muslims as people ("Genuine Critic of Islam").
In fact the "Pro-Christian Right Anti-Muslim Groups" and "Far-Right Jewish Groups" are the only categories in Faisal's taxonomy that I don't share at least one trait with, but if you added blasphemy rights advocate (at least with respect to blasphemy against Islam) then I could probably even agree with these groups on something! Also missing completely from Faisal's taxonomy is anyone who believes that American "policy choices have consequences" (9/11 Commission) and are also a factor in, but not necessarily the only "result or cause" of, radical Islamic jihadi terrorism. Or that the threat itself in this case is overblown in the U.S. relative even to the other terrorist risks that we currently face (not to mention the state-sponsored terrorism carried out in our name elsewhere in the world) and that our non-proportional overreactions make it worse. Also troubling, especially in light of recent news, is the fact that none of Faisal's groups seem to care about religious liberty or the very real threat of violence and discrimination against religious minorities (of which I include myself). So I want to associate myself with all these other groups as well. Sorry, but...
* I suspect that Glenn Greenwald, Reza Aslan, and Chris Stedman would call the Pseudo-Liberal Apologist category a "straw man" of their positions, but I'll let them deconstruct that aspect. Needless to say, I doubt this category will encourage the type of honest conversation that Faisal bemoans as missing from this debate - more likely it will just further polarize it.