I read with fascination the reaction from atheists I know in response to the following video:
It is a pretty good prank, and by disguising the Bible as the Quran makes two very good points simultaneously. The first being that the Bible is full of horrifying shit, and the second being that prejudicial behaviour towards Muslims allows some of the people to make such statements like:
Cutting off people’s hands… I mean, apparently, that’s just the way they are,
Hearing this, I think the Quran is more aggressive.
I think the Bible has mostly a lot of positive things in it.
Of course the big reveal at the end shocks the bystanders into confronting their prejudices. With one participant explicitly stating how he tried to not be prejudicial, but apparently he is a bigot. That man deserves a medal for willing to admit his prejudices, and would appear to be on the way towards recognising that problematic behaviour.
Behind the scenes, I have been finding myself debating people I would have thought would hold rational humanist positions. A very recent email exchange however, has shown me that even being involved in a secular atheist-driven movement is no vaccine against prejudice. The topic under discussion was Ahmed Mohamad’s clock, and I was questioning why the person running the Malaysian Atheists Twitter account was retweeting and supporting Richard Dawkins’ astoundingly absurd comparison of Ahmed to an ISIS beheading.
Yes, Islam is ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean all Muslims should be equated to terrorists. These same atheists fond of quoting how only the Sith take extreme positions seem to be blinded by their particular prejudice towards Islam and Muslims, that a blindingly obvious case of racism and bigotry can be rationalised away as a conspiratorial plot.
The point of this prank was to expose our prejudices, and it is not to All Lives Matter the entire debate on human conduct. The understanding is implicit that Western society at present encourages the victimization of Muslims, and that they are a monolithic group incapable of reasoning because they are barbarians and fascists. When mass shootings happen in the USA, and they are carried out by white people who are not-Muslims, they are called mentally ill. Terrorism is a badge exclusively for Muslim shooters. They don’t get the privilege of being treated like mentally ill people.
While in Malaysia, the government is allowed to impose their own particularly corrupt Islamic ideology upon the populace, and brave Muslim intellectuals who have chosen to interpret their religion progressively are branded as heretics. For far too long, atheists have been keen to link these progressives to their extremists brethren, as if merely being a Muslim means one also holds to the same extremist views of people who use Islam to justify violence and racism.
People are never driven by a single factor alone. We are affected by our experiences, and if people make an effort to better themselves, perhaps someday they will come to confront their prejudices and change their minds. Muslims are not the enemy. It is people who preach violence who are the true enemies. Those who sit in their posh office spaces commanding armies to blow up villages in the Middle-East, resulting in the inevitable rise to power of armies seeking retribution, who are then used to justify more bombings.
And from the perspective of the victims of bombs, it is the Christians and secular nations that are the evil ones. They who think nothing of using superior military technology to kill their enemies, and ignore the civilians who get in the way of their glorious bombing campaign for peace.
If you are taking your geo-political lessons from Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the ghost of that drunkard who wrote something about preparing tea and women comedians not being funny while being a war-hawk – I do suggest you expand your reading beyond the intellectually trivial pursuit of merely arguing that gods do not exist, and try instead to understand the complexities of reality.