Why are groups of marginalized people allowed to criticize the cultural contexts that cause their oppression, unless the marginalized groups are women and LGB people and the culture is Islam?
Dr. Eve Browning, Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Classics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, hauled master’s degree student Alfred MacDonald into a meeting to shame and threaten him for making what she believed to be Islamophobic statements. According to Gay Star News she said, “if his behavior continued, he would be referred to the student conduct board. She said they would recommend dismissal.”
In this account, he merely stated he could be executed in Islamic countries for being bisexual, a factual statement. The student he was speaking to outside of class has a fiancé who is a Muslim and she complained. This apparently prompted this overly controlling professor to abuse her power to serve her own world view, a world where making factual statements about real world risks of murder is oppression and religions are blameless for their actual commandments to punish and kill gay people. Why Evolution is True has a transcript of the conversation indicating that she holds the absurd belief religions have no baring on people’s views on homosexuality. She seems to fit the profile of a certain personality type, “PC-authoritarians” (research done by psychology professor Jordan Peterson), who attempt to control other people’s nonviolent thoughts and speech. They seem to be especially attracted to academia and on college campuses it’s not only immature leftist undergraduates who are trying to do this but faculty as well. Johnathan Haidt also often speaks about the damage left-wing identity politics is doing on college campuses to free speech and free thought and people’s ability to tolerate different viewpoints.
Browning refused to comment on the incident because she says she has been getting threats. Threatening someone with violence is totally unacceptable but if this story is true (there is a recording of the conversation so I am assuming it is) she deserves the reasonable condemnation directed at her. It’s one thing to have disagreements. It’s a good thing to aggressively confront speech that calls for literal violence and destroying other people’s civil rights. It’s quite another to be a thin-skinned despot with a confused moral compass, lording undeserved power in the halls of a public university where the laws of the US Constitution apply. This is McCarthyistic behavior and it exists on all sides of the political spectrum. This student wasn’t advocating for destroying anyone else’s personal safety or rights and was in fact, bringing attention to the murder and abuse of his own minority group, his prerogative.
There is a bizarre attitude on the left that LGB people are not allowed to confront, analyze, or even talk about their oppression when that oppression is related to Islam. In the most extreme examples of this, leftist LGBT people themselves (young and stupidly behaving ones) participated in trying to shut down an activist who speaks about the cultural problems of Islam that contribute to the poor treatment of women and homosexuals. These LGBT students instead defended the muslim students at the university trying to intimidate her. Many millennial liberals have deemed it acceptable only to confront mentalities that harm vulnerable groups, if the vulnerable groups are people of color suffering at the hands of white, cis, heterosexual, mostly Christian (sometimes Jewish) men. But most of the people suffering abuse and risk of death in the world are black and brown people living in Africa and the Middle East. They are as deserving of the relative freedom Western, mostly white people, and homosexuals, bisexuals, and women in particular enjoy. Social leftists believe that LGB people and women who want accountability for widespread maltreatment and brutality in Islamic countries deserve to be called bigots. I understand the unfair scrutiny innocent Muslims are put under is a concern and Muslims in Western countries should be judged for who they are as people in the face of rising hostility. But this is not a justification to shut down discussion of the pain being inflicted on other human beings. The extensive pain LGB people live in everyday in Islamic societies is not of less value than Western Muslim’s discomfort at having that reality pointed out. And how did modern liberalism devolve into a situation where it is so morally confused it is eating its own babies.
The arguments to minimize the role Islam plays in atrocities committed against LGB people such as the Pulse massacre, gay men getting strung up or thrown off of buildings by Isis, threats of honor killings of lesbians, or men being rounded up and put in concentration camps for homosexuality in Chechnya, is “You can’t blame millions of people for the heinous acts of a few fanatics.” You can hold people accountable for the values they adhere to and their culture. Not all white South Africans were the ones to kick in the head of Stephen Biko but the culture of the Caucasians who had power in that country was still responsible. No one would expect anyone not to discuss white southern culture in the US and the harm that results from it or the culture of white supremacy that justified apartheid in South Africa, or the Protestant’s hatred of Catholics that caused the intolerance towards Irish immigrants on the East Coast. But if the perpetrators are brown and not Christians their cultural values should have immunity according to many liberals.
Let’s take a look at the level of tolerance for homosexuality and women’s rights in Islamic countries in this Pew poll because it is low, often even in the “liberal” Islamic countries.
In Western countries, it is a mixed bag. The tolerance for homosexuality among Muslims in the US is above 50% and German Muslims have higher rates of tolerance for homosexuality on par with average Westerners (this may change with the influx of new immigrants into Germany). In Britain, the level of tolerance is zero according to one poll. Here are the Islamic countries that have the death penalty for homosexuality, there are a lot of them. For the overall picture of the low support for Western values in Islamic countries there is a good article on Why Evolution is True.
Human beings tend to treat other human beings who fall outside of social norms poorly. And men historically have had a superiority complex in relation to women and a sense of entitlement to control them. It’s not only a result of religion but our complicated nature. Religion is both reinforced by and reinforces this tendency. It is completely reasonable for free thinking people who want a future built on safety, respect, and justice to criticize religions with chauvinistic and gay hating passages. It’s not as if the social progress women and LGB people have achieved can’t be taken away due to shifting circumstances in the future. There is no difference in the genetics or potential behavior between us and those who burned witches at the stake or between our men in the West and the men who run Afghanistan.
No one should care if Alfred MacDonald offended another student. She does not have the right to live a life free from feeling offended by true statements. LGB people have the right to not be shunned, harassed, and killed by gay hating cultures and the religions that justify this treatment. And they have the right to speak up about this when it happens. The countries in the world with the worst conditions for LGB people are Islamic countries (transgenderism is more acceptable in some of them). Here are some more articles on the oppression LGB people suffer under Islam and photo documentation of their terrifyingly and prematurely snuffed out lives. This isn’t happening in Norway.