In case you haven't been following this ridiculous non-story, it seems that a few Muslim cabbies in the Twin Cities are getting lots of heat because they don't want to allow people in their taxis wits booze. Now, of course it's been grotesquely exaggerated in the telling -- to hear the Town Hall crowd tell it, it's next to impossible to get a cab in the whole Midwest if you've ever had a glass of wine with dinner. But despited the fact that the actual story focused on a small number of Muslim cabdrivers who don't want people who are openly intoxicated (not an unusual restriction, even for non-Muslim cabbies) or with open containers (which is, after all, illegal) in their rides. But the conservative talking heads have taken it as flagrant evidence of the intolerance of the entire Islamic faith, and a clear sign that they want to impose their moral and religious standards on the rest of the world.
Now, I have no truck with Islam. I hate religion, and as restrictive, intolerant faiths go, Islam is in, oh, say, the top three. But what, exactly, is the problem here? Most of this fretting and fuming comes from people who are, after all, devoted religious conservatives who, when they're not derying the evils of intolerant Muslims, are railing against our permissive, decadent society. You'd think these jackoffs, who spend half their time bitching about feminism, slutty clothes on girls, and how our culture is swamped in filth and drugs, would find common cause with the madrass types, but since these guys care about names for sides more than they care about obeying the tenets of their own faith, it's all about the evils-of-Islam rap.
Anyway, here's the problem with the "Muslim cabbies won't allow booze/dogs in their taxis, therefore Islam is an intolerant religion" analogy: as anyone from L.A. to Chicago to New York will tell you, another thing, besides dog ownership or alcohol possession, that makes it hard for you to get a cab is having black skin. Does this, therefore, 'prove' that Americans are racist? I bet the cultural conservatives would say no!
The great thing about Prager's take on the issue, though, is that, taking self-ignorance to breathy new heights, he claims that Muslims want to force their beliefs on others...while denying that Christians do, or have ever done, such a thing. Let's take a look!
And in Minneapolis, Minn., Muslim taxi drivers, who make up a significant percentage of taxi drivers in that city, refuse to pick up passengers who have a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage with them.
He starts out with a flagrant distortion of the case. Not all Muslim cabbies refuse such passengers -- indeed, it's a very small number, because most cabbies care more about making money than they do following their religion to the dot and tittle. And it's not ones who have a bottle, but an open bottle; a pretty important disctinction, that. But that's not the fun part! Here's the fun part:
We are not talking here about Muslim fanatics or Muslim terrorists, but about decent every day Muslims. And what these practices reveal is something virtually unknown in Judeo-Christian societies -- the imposing of one's religious practices on others.
VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN IN JUDEO-CHRISTIAN SOCIETIES!
The imposing of one's religious practices on others? In Jewish or Christian societies? VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN!
VIRTUALLY fucking UNKNOWN!
First of all, let's look at a couple of minor, slight, barely noticable examples of where Christians and Jews have attempted to impose their religious views on others:
1. The ethnic cleansing of the Holy Land in the Old Testament.
2. The Crusades.
3. The Inquisition.
What's that you say? That was hundreds or thousands of years ago, and Christians and Jews don't do that sort of thing any more? Okay, let's think of a few more recent examples.
1. The Puritans.
2. Witch trials.
3. Forcible conversion of Native Americans, Asians and Africans.
Still too far back in the past, you say? Surely I can't think of any examples from the last century or two, you say? Let's see:
1. Hundreds, even thousands, of prohibitive laws based only on Judeo-Christian morality.
2. Systemic disenfranchisement of Muslims by Jews in Israel.
3. Widespread religious discrimination against Jews by Christians in Europe and the US.
But there's nothing going on NOW, right? In the 21st century, are you saying that Jews and/or Christians attempt to impose their value system on others? Maaaaaybe...
1. The attempt to remove the teaching of evolution from public schools.
2. The evangelical Christian movement, whose expressly stated goal is to remake the laws to more adequately reflect those of the Bible.
3. Innumerable restrictions on alcohol, drug use, pornography, prostitution, and homosexuality.
Now, next, Prager tries to weasel out of it by saying that a lot of people will claim that the fight to outlaw abortion is an example of Jews and Christians trying to impose their religious practices on others, but that's different! How?
There is no comparing ritual prohibitions with moral prohibitions. Christians argue that taking the life of a human fetus where the mother's life is not endangered is immoral. And so do religious Jews (and Muslims) and many secular individuals -- because the issue of abortion is a moral issue. Contact with dogs, on the other hand, is a ritual issue, not a moral issue. Which is why non-Muslims do not consider it immoral -- unlike the many non-Christians who consider most abortions immoral.
Uh huh. Nice try, Dennis. Despite trying to weasel out of it with this "moral vs. ritual" bullshit (and, I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but what difference does it make to a person who's being discriminated against whether the reason behind his oppression is moral or ritual? and do the true believers themselves make a distinction between morality and ritual, or do they believe that their rituals are informed by their morality?), it's still not true that Christians don't impose their beliefs on other based simply on ritual. Here's an example:
In thousands of places all over the country, you can't buy liquor on Sunday -- and not just liquor, but in some locations, other things, like automobiles, pharmaceuticals and even dry goods -- because of laws passed to restrict commerce on the Christian day of rest. Although many blue laws have been repealed, many more have been upheld, and here in Texas there's been a major challenge to a proposed repeal on the blue law that requires car dealerships to close on Sundays. Since he spends a lot of time there smoking cigars with James Lileks, Dennis Prager surely knows that Minnesota, the very place where evil Muslim cabbies won't give you a ride if you're toting a bottle of Cabo Wabo, forbids the sale of liquor on Sundays. And there's no way this is a moral issue; if you were morally opposed to alcohol, you'd seek its complete prohibition. It's just a ritual, an observance of the Christian day of rest.
Here's another: public holidays. In the United States, employers are required by law to give full-time employees a set amount of days off, which coincide with the major Christian days of worship. Is it a moral issue that people not work on Christmas? Nope. It's nothing but a ritual, and due to public pressure from the dominant religion, it has been codified in law. Of course, I have no problem with it; but you'd be hard pressed to define this as anything more than Christians imposing their ritual observations on the society in which they live. Anyone who tried hard could think of dozens of examples of successful attempts or at least concerted efforts to impose Christian ritual belief (and thousands of examples of imposing Christian moral belief) on society.
But such Jewish or Mormon examples [of the imposition of ritual religious observation] don't exist (and if they did, religious Jews and Mormons would regard such persons as crackpots). They do not exist because Jews and Mormons do not believe that non-Jews are required to change their behavior owing to Judaism's or Mormonism's distinctive laws. Religious Muslims, on the other hand, do believe that wherever applicable, non-Muslims should change their behavior in the light of Islam's distinctive laws.
HA HA HA. 100% pure, unadulterated, premium-grade bullshit. Dennis, my man, before you remove the mote from your neighbor's eye...