The Regressive Left cannot argue on the facts because they are guided by inane narratives infused with hyperactive emotions and bigoted stereotypes. This is exactly why their refutations are primarily rooted in personal attacks and libellous smears. Last year, regressive leftist C.J. Werleman falsely accused me of being a source of inspiration for the Chapel Hill killer, which resulted in death threats being made against me and my two young children, as well as a stream of angry hate mail from people who uncritically swallow whatever they are fed. Recently, Maajid Nawaz was targeted by the regressive rapper Talib Kweli Greene, whose ill-contrived smears caused Maajid to receive threats and hate messages from pro-ISIS Islamists. The obsession the Regressive Left have with ad hominem attacks betrays a complete lack of substance in their arguments. If you have something of substance to say, I will be the first one to listen and consider your point of view, but if all you have are hateful ad hominems and deliberately dishonest misrepresentations of my position, you deserve to be mocked, ridiculed and laughed out of the ongoing discourse surrounding the issues that concern the wellbeing of our fellow human beings in both the West and the Muslim world. As I said in my keynote speech at the 2016 Rationalist International Conference:
The Regressive Left seem to have no qualms about non-western women and men suffering horribly and having their human rights completely and utterly infringed upon under totalitarian religious regimes, yet they have a tremendous problem with those of us who dare to criticize those horrid religious regimes and that misogynistic and misanthropic collection of superstitions that wrote the manifesto for groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.
This regressive pseudo-liberal movement has misappropriated the core principles of liberalism to zealously defend a fascist, anti-liberal ideology. Now, I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Don’t hold back, Michael! Tell us what you really think!” Okay, fine, since you insist. The Regressive Left is little more than an idiotic, identity-politics-obsessed collection of cowardly and pathologically apathetic illiberal activists dressed in the garb of humane liberalism. They are, and I say this without hesitation, a brood of reputation-smearing vipers, who are poisoning liberalism from within, and at the same time assisting in the oppression of women and men in the Muslim world, by making it an offense to speak the plain truth about an extremely oppressive and dangerous ideology, and they achieve their misguided ends by branding those who freely speak the truth about Islam and Islamism with pejorative labels such as Islamophobe, racist and bigot. And here I arrive at my central point concerning informal blasphemy.
If more balanced rationalists don’t find a way to seize control of the norms surrounding the criticism of religion, and Islam in particular, the Regressive Left will continue to control the narrative, and the pre-existing social norms that make it a taboo to speak honestly in this regard will be bolstered, and this would be tragic, because the only alternative to the apathetic and irrationally relativist narrative broadcasted by the Regressive Left will be the hateful and bigoted anti-Muslim narrative preached by the Far Right, which will not only lead to the needless suffering of innocent and peaceful Muslims, it will distort the necessary discourse on the dangers inherent within many of the core and peripheral doctrines of Islam…But herein lies the challenge! How do we compete with the oversimplified narratives offered by the Regressive Left and the Far Right? On the one hand we have the Far Right’s easy-to-follow, powerful and dangerous narrative, one which conflates humans with their beliefs, their narrative being, “all Muslims are evil!” And on the other we have the Regressive Left, who similarly conflate humans and beliefs, but by propagating the fallacious notion that the criticism of beliefs amounts to bigotry, racism and the persecution of a group of people…it does not!
So those of us stuck in the middle between these clowns to the left and those fascists to the right – those of us who understand the difference between criticizing beliefs on the one hand and persecuting human beings on the other, we have to find a way to make our more nuanced narrative more appealing, and I think that is what it boils down to sadly – it’s all about sales. The Regressive Left have slanders, smears, libels, grossly false gossip and extremely attractive linguistic symbols as part of their propaganda, i.e., Islamophobe, bigot and racist, whilst the Far Right, they have easily-digestible stereotypes coupled with the powerful archetype of “evil” at their disposal. We rationalists, however, we have subtle, somewhat unattractive nuances that require contemplation, considerable thought and careful discernment – our narrative is akin to a science textbook, people love the idea of owning one, but reading it, understanding it, and applying it, that’s another matter entirely.
So how do those of us who see Muslims and religious people in general as our fellow human beings yet deplore their religious beliefs, how do we go about making what we are selling more attractive to Far Right and Regressive Left audiences, who are more interested in easy-to-grasp, neon-lit narratives? Well, I think one thing we need to do is inject a little more passion into how we deliver our message.
Another thing we can do is repeat….repeat….repeat. We can do both of these things without sacrificing the substance of our rational, human rights-focussed message, but again, we must remain cognizant of the reality that a large portion of this audience is either too busy living day-to-day, surviving on low-to-minimum wage, or else they are too busy voting which singer should win the next season of ‘The Voice’. I guess what I’m saying is, the audience is either too busy surviving or too complacent and apathetic to thoroughly contemplate the not-so-subtle nuances that exist between criticizing religious ideologies and persecuting those who are held prisoner by them.
Another problem we face as campaigners for human rights over human beliefs, is that we are attempting to sell a global message that not only cuts across national borders, but that trespasses across the red-tape of identity politics. That is to say, we are asking people to consider aspects of their political opponents’ points of view. What do I mean by this? I mean we are asking liberals to put aside their biases and bravely and rationally consider the rational concerns about Islam expressed by voices on the Right, and we are asking the people on the Right to move beyond their racism, bigotry and tribalism, to care sufficiently about the wellbeing of those who do not share their own nationality, or ethnicity – and such requests, on both sides of the political spectrum, can, and frequently do, fall upon deaf ears.
To overcome the hateful and ignorant messages on both sides of the political spectrum in the debate over Islam and Islamism, we humanists and rationalists must begin to lead the way by demonstrating to both the Regressive Left and the Far & Alt Right that the welfare of all human beings must trump the protection and defense of human beliefs and identity politics – because if we fail to impart this crucial message to both sides of this disastrous dialogue, we will continue to witness the rise of Regressive Left extremists and Far right fanatics.