As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything "offensive" to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …In this view, it's good to frame the debate in terms of tolerance, but don't wimp out halfway through. Keep going, and insist on tolerance all around. I think that's a better position than meeting intolerance with intolerance. It's more enlightened, it puts us on the path to liberty, and it requires quite a bit more courage.
As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it's easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be "phobic." A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.
August 24, 2010
"But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism."
Writes Christopher Hitchens, noting the naivete of the talk of religious tolerance in defense of the mosque near Ground Zero: