Clash of cultures

Mohammad Ansar, @MoAnsar on Twitter, posted a tweet with an image on January 14, 2015. This image truly did appall me, and highlights a problemthe clash of cultures.

I found this image in a tweet by Mo Ansar; it is a quote by Nouman Ali Khan.

Mohammad Ansar is a moderate Muslim and a "civil rights activist". While some of the things he says may (or may not, you decide) be good, as a Muslim, he'll always have a biased view of Islam. Of course he will see Islam as a force that will "clean up" culture, as the above image states. I disagree, and I think it is kind of hypocritical of him to support this claim.

While I agree with the statement that Islam in and of itself doesn't destroy culture, as freedom of religion is one of the most important liberties of western culture, the statement that Islam "cleans up" western culture is quite disgusting, especially considering the Muslim world is very illiberal, but more to the point that the three statements in the image are revolting.

1. Free speech

Point one of the quote detailing why Islam "cleans [cultures] up" is where Ansar's hypocrisy plays a role. "You can keep your language, but get rid of your racist speech." This is the standard thing to say for Muslims and politically correct liberals nowadays. Criticism of a worldview and ideology is conflated with bigotry toward a people. And yet Ansar happily supports the claim that the west needs to be "cleaned up."

I'm not saying he can't make that claim; I'm saying he can, because that's what free speech is about. But it is, indeed, hypocritical to conflate criticism of his own worldview with bigotry, when he criticizes others' worldviews. I will never accept the biased and skewed definition of bigotry and Islamophobia that is held by many. I have absolutely no problem with Middle Eastern people or practicing Muslims, as long as they don't push their religious beliefs and rules on anyone else. I hold Christians, Jews, Hindus and all religious people to this principle, not just Muslims.

2. Alcohol

The second point is where the clash of cultures begins. The statement is that "You can keep your style of cooking, but get rid of alcohol." Let's pretend that point one is valid, which it is to a degree, because there is, after all, lots of right-wing, xenophobic propaganda about Muslims. This, in essence, means that this Muslim views consumption of alcohol as something that's as bad as bigotry.

I strongly disagree that alcohol should be banned (and I am not a big drinker, by the way). These are the kind of religious/cultural rules that need to be left behind if Muslims are to live in the west; this is, indeed, a clash of cultures. I am often appalled when people say Muslims should "adapt to our customs", as if no non-Christian culture can be permitted at all. I think this kind of thinking is disgusting.

But culture in the sense of the human rights we have is nonnegotiable; at least taking them away based only on the argument that "my god thinks it's immoral" is out of the question. If your religion prohibits you from drinking, by all means don't drink. You cannot, however, push your religion onto other people.

Personally, I think we should legalize more drugs, and it's worth noting that there are Muslims (or at least people with roots in the Middle East) who do drink alcohol; pushing religious laws like prohibition of alcohol would hurt them, as well. I tolerate Muslims; I welcome them with open arms, in fact. But I do not tolerate oppressive rules like this one.

3. Slut-shaming

The third point in the quote says, "You can keep your cultural dresses, but keep your modesty on the highest level." So now I'm finally creeped out completely. Many of my fellow liberals who wouldn't hesitate to acknowledge our own cultural problems of oppression of women and slut-shaming rush to the defense of an ideology that oppresses and slut-shames women.

As Bill Maher has said, we must stand up for liberal principles. How can we otherwise be considered liberals? Why do some conservatives and conservative ideologies get a free pass? Yes, there is a problem with bigotry toward Muslims, and no, not all Muslims are bigoted terrorists. But we must acknowledge that there is a misogynistic system of oppression built into many religions, including Christianity and Islam.

Islam does have a place in western society, just like any other religion. But western society is better than the Middle East, and we are secular. Religions must be criticized into reform; they must be secularized. I'd say most Muslims in the west do accept and embrace secularism, but there are those who don't, just like there are Christians who don't. This is a clash of cultures, and I am not willing to give up my rights.