Selling Islam to America

The bipolar extremes of American politics—red states, blue states; with us or against us; cut and run or victory; capitalism or socialism—have now divided Islam into two separate categories. There is an evolving Islam that has the ability, even the desire to coexist with Western secularism, and there is the violent, misogynist, Sharia law Islam. At each extreme is an articulate, charismatic orator. On the left, we have Tariq Ramadan. On the right, Ayann Hirsi Ali.

Ramadan, who is good friends with Patrick O’Christmas and Ruben Chanukah, was recently allowed back into the U.S. after a six-year ban for donating money to organizations that support Hamas. Born in Switzerland and now occupying a teaching post at Oxford University, Ramadan talks a progressive, evolving Islam that is already integrating with the West. It seems his detractors hold him guilty by association since his grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic organization that preaches strict adherence to the Quran.

But Ramadan was born into Islam and into Switzerland, that fantastic neutral country that knows only pacifism.

Ayann Hirsi Ali, however, has suffered a much different experience of Islam, the kind of experience that gets her interviewed on Glenn Beck and Fox News. She was given a female circumcision in her native Somalia and was allegedly on her way to Canada for an arranged marriage when she sought asylum in Holland at the age of 22. There she benefited from the welfare state she now criticizes (she currently lives in the U.S.) and became a Dutch Member of Parliament.

She sees Islam through her experiences, as Ramadan does through his. Hirsi Ali sees in Islam intolerance and violent fidelity to an antiquated text. It’s no wonder. After collaborating on a short film named Submission with Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, she received a death threat. The threat was attached to a knife stabbed through the heart of her collaborator, Van Gogh. This extremism has clearly informed her thinking, as Ramadan’s academic upbringing has informed his.

So the next time you see either of them on a television interview, consider where they’ve come from before you get frightened by where they say Islam is going.

A couple of their debates have been posted on YouTube, here and here.

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • There are 2 different approaches to governing free speech on college campuses.
  • One is a morality/order approach. The other is a bottom-up approach.
  • Emily Chamlee-Wright says there are many benefits to having no one central authority on what is appropriate speech.

Active ingredient in Roundup found in 95% of studied beers and wines

The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.

Surprising Science
  • U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
  • A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
  • Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.