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:: Article nr. 11607 sent on 08-may-2005 12:33 ECT
Irshdad Manji is popular with U.S. anti-Muslim bigots
Saturday/Sunday, May 7-8, 2005
Professional wrestling has been a part of U.S. culture for at least the past six decades. The plots use the same basic format: bad guy against good guy.
The bad guy is called a "heel" and always aspires to gain "heat" — the wrath of the fans. The more the crowd denigrates the heel, the more heat he has drawn, as well as a larger paycheck from the promoter.
One of the biggest heels in the history of professional wrestling, as well as the performer who drew more heat than anyone was Killer Kowalski. He earned his heat. Kowalski hollered at the fans. He broke every rule in the book and when he lost, he accused his opponents of cheating. He tried to hit referees. Female fans would approach the ring and try to stab him with umbrellas. The referee had to hold him back from leaving the ring and beating up old women.
Kowalksi earned his heat. Ironically, outside the ring, he is the most humane and altruistic individual one can meet. His ring persona was all an act.
Once in a while, a wrestler will try to circumvent the years of action that make a performer a real heel by producing "cheap heat." When he does this, his colleagues cringe because they know there is no place to go to further one’s gimmick.
Let me give an example of cheap heat. A white wrestler calls his black opponent a "nigger." The fans boo him, but there is no way to expand on the cheap heat. An accomplished wrestler would build up his heel image, not thrust a quick reply that would fade. Instead of denigrating an opponent because of his race, Kowalski would have criticized his ring outfit, then he would have knocked his wrestling style and inferred he was a cheater. Then, Kowalski would have feigned an injury and when his opponent came to help him, he would have kicked him in the gonads. No cheap heat there.
Recently, a Canadian author, Irshad Manji has gained notoriety, but it is of the cheap heat kind. She wrote a book called The Trouble with Islam Today and is currently touring the U.S. promoting the work.
On the face of it, what is wrong with someone writing a book calling for modernizing the Islamic religion? After all, other authors have written articles or books about improving the image of Islam. The problem is that Manji has fallen into the same category as those who denigrate a system from the inside and gain an audience of bigots of the worst kind.
In the U.S., Alan Keyes, the perennial candidate and Armstrong Williams, a black conservative journalist, are heroes to the white racist community because they knock their own people. Bigots like nothing better than to see a minority person criticize their own. However, when all is said and done, the bigots still consider the sellout messengers to be a part of the opposition. Then, all bridges have been burned. The black sellout in the U.S. already lost his standing in the black community, and when the whites have used him enough, they spit him out and leave him out to dry.
Manji gives just this sort of message. She criticizes Islam on many fronts. The following is an example:
Through our screaming self-pity and our conspicuous silences, we Muslims are conspiring against ourselves. We’re in crisis and we’re dragging the rest of the world with us. If ever there was a moment for an Islamic reformation, it’s now.
Again, criticism can be healthy, but in Manji’s case it is only self-serving. Her criticism of Islam is comprehensive. But, she still considers herself a Muslim.
Islam, Christianity and Judaism are religions that adhere to sets of rules. They all maintain that one must obey these tenets, or they are not true believers. That is the nature of monotheistic religions.
On the other hand, people have questioned these aspects and if they do not feel comfortable with them, they either change religions or disavow all religions. They are being honest with themselves.
Manji wants it both ways. She wants to be a Muslim, all the while denigrating the religion, not just asking for change.
As an atheist, I find this quite confusing. I do not adhere to a religion because I do not believe in many aspects. Some, such as the concept of not killing people, I agree with, but one does not have to belong to a religion to accept such a universal idea.
Manji did not leave her criticism only to Muslims, but to Arabs as well. This is quite disturbing because her background lies in Africa and North America, not the Arab world. She supported the illegal March 2003 invasion of Iraq because, according to her, that was the only way Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime could be toppled. She stated, "In the last hundred years alone, more Muslims have been tortured or murdered at the hands of other Muslims than at the hands of any former imperial power."
Manji should go to the library, or access the Internet and read something about world history in the 20th century Arab world. Maybe she would learn about the British occupation of Iraq; or about the genocide of the Palestinians at the hands of Israel; or the three million Iraqis killed by the U.S. from 1991 until today.
Recently, the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a feature on Manji called "Rebel Woman’s Book, Call for Reform Stir Up Trouble in the Muslim World." Coincidentally, the article was in the Religion section of the paper. The piece was read by about 200,000 people (almost all white Christians) and it was popular.
Now, let’s get back to my point about selling out. Manji is in the same league as Alan Keyes or Armstrong Williams. She has chosen to sell out her religion and give input about foreign affairs of which she has no knowledge. The white bigots now consider her a "good Muslim."
But, she is not really giving a critique, only firing shots that are picked up on by the enemies of Islam. I have no problem with criticizing religious dogma. But, I am an atheist and being true to my own beliefs. If Manji were to publicly disown Islam and write about its negative aspects, I would give her credit for being true to her beliefs. But, she has become the darling of U.S. Christians because of her message and she still calls herself a Muslim. Something does not fit.
The day will come when her so-called admirers get tired of her message and she will not be able to follow
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