Saturday, June 16, 2007

Irresponsible Assertions?

Over at, the use of unattributed assertions continues apace.

For instance, a columnist named John Andrews has a contribution, Can Muhammad and Jefferson Coexist?

As far as it goes, it raises interesting questions. Islam, to the best of my knowledge, is both a religion as well as a way of governing. It is, basically, generally understood, to be a theocracy. I don't know for certain. I've never seen citations for a particular surah which would give credence to that understanding.

Andrews' column also provides an assertion, "How can Muhammad’s teaching that women and unbelievers, especially Jews, are inferior square with Jefferson’s “all created equal”?

Good question, and an interesting assertion, but there is no citation for the claim that Muhammad teaches anything like women and unbelievers and Jews are inferior. Haven't we Westerners been told that Muhammad taught that people of "the book" were to be left to their own religions? (Of course, there's generally no provision of a surah for that teaching either!)

Making such assertions without the accompanying citation is either academically lazy or partisanship at its worst. We know how important context is. We've seen its misuse in advertising and in politics. We know spin doctors' first law is "Do whatever it takes to stress the point."

Any westerner who writes anything about Islam without citing a Surah should be held suspect.

The American prople have been credulous too long. We must demand honesty and openness in our politicians as well as, and probably more importantly, from those who would be exponents of policies.

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