- - Sunday, October 12, 2014

Substitute “Muslim” for “Jew” in the following passage from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice for a definitive repudiation of showman Bill Maher’s bigoted, reactionary equation all 1.6 billion Muslims to the grisly Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS):

“Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.”

Showman Mr. Maher needs education in the obvious.  The Islamic State’s predominant victims are other Muslims, both Shiites and Sunnis. The Muslims are targeted precisely because they have little or nothing in common with the Islamic State.

Further, every human is born with the same DNA and 23 chromosome pairs. We are all tempted by power, money, sex, fame, and creature comforts irrespective of religion. Just as Newton’s laws of motion operate on humans irrespective of creed, so do the driving forces of human nature—even in Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.

Ziahuddin Sardar wrote in The New York Times (September 30, 2014): “The dominant architectural site in the city is not the Sacred Mosque, where the Kaaba, the symbolic focus of Muslims everywhere, is. It is the obnoxious Makkah Royal Clock Tower hotel, which, at 1,972 feet, is among the world’s tallest buildings. It is part of a mammoth development of skyscrapers that includes luxury shopping malls and hotels catering to the superrich. The skyline is no longer dominated by the rugged outline of encircling peaks. Ancient mountains have been flattened. The city is now surrounded by the brutalism of rectangular steel and concrete structures — an amalgam of Disneyland and Las Vegas.”

Showman Mr. Maher errantly sermonizes that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia, that will [expletive deleted] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”

Christians perpetrated genocide of Muslim men at Srebrenica, and Christians ethnically cleansed Muslims in Kosovo. Muslim Uighurs in China are killed or otherwise persecuted by the Han Chinese for what they say, believe, or practice.

Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition for blasphemy, and Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist. The Index of Forbidden Books was an invention of the Pope, not the Caliphate. The Spanish Inquisition targeted both Muslims and Jews.

The Old Testament celebrates gruesome human rights crimes in the name of Judaism, including ethnic cleansing or genocide. Consider the following from Deuteronomy 20:10–18: “You shall not leave alive anything that breathes,” and “You shall utterly destroy them.”

Showman Mr. Maher embraces guilt by association indistinguishable from former Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy during his ostensible anti-Communist crusade. Only a tiny fraction of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are implicated in terrorism. Of the total Muslim population, Islamic State membership is a miniscule decimal point, not the norm as Mr. Maher absurdly insinuates.

The earmark of barbarism is guilt by association. The hallmark of civilization is individualism and personal accountability.

Mr. Maher would take us back to barbarism.

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