FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, June 12, 2008
FP: Joel Richardson, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Richardson: Thank you very much.
FP: Why did you become the editor of this book and what were your impressions of the collection?
Richardson: The West is presently standing before a very crucial and yet narrow window of opportunity. The decisions that we make in this next season will determine whether we survive into the next century or whether we essentially go the way of the dodo. Wherever Islam grows, freedom withers. Wherever Islam reigns, human rights violations become the rule. And wherever Islam prospers, intolerance toward non-Muslims abounds. This reality is demonstrable to anyone who will objectively analyze the facts. Yet when one listens to the tone of the present dialogue in the United States regarding the nature of Islam, this reality is often times purposefully overlooked, almost habitually by those who most loudly claim to stand for human rights and against intolerance. While there are many very highly qualified voices speaking and writing about Islam these days, too often these voices of reason are popularly disregarded.
The purpose of putting together Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out was to provide the West with a mosaic of very real voices from every end of the religious and political spectrum, from various backgrounds and perspectives all who left Islam and who have a resoundingly similar message and warning to share. This collection is intended to reach those who might not otherwise read a more academic work on Islam—its history and source texts etc. By putting together this collection of shorter, very powerful and often brutally honest personal stories, the goal was to reach many who might not otherwise be open to reading anything critical of Islam.
I’ve given copies to several of my more liberal friends and they all have come back to me with ashen faces expressing their shock at what they read. If one gets most of their news from the mainstream media, there is no question that they have been sheltered from the truth regarding the reality faced by those who wish to leave Islam. So the book is very affective. It is one of those books that every American simply must read, but you will absolutely have to put it down at times. Many of the stories are simply heart wrenching.
FP: What does it say about Islam that Muslims cannot freely leave Islam? And why is the Left in the West so silent about this totalitarian aspect of Islam?
Richardson: To anyone who looks at this from the outside, even casually, it is clear that Islam is a highly insecure and controlling religion. A confident person or system does not need to maintain followers through the threat of death. But Muhammad most certainly did. And so we need to be very careful not to write off this common reality within the Muslim world as a mere cultural anomaly. This practice comes directly from Muhammad, Islam’s so-called “prophet” and founder; his compulsive insecurities and his need for absolute control. If Muhammad were alive today, nearly all outside observers would be very comfortable calling him a psychologically disturbed cult leader as his actions and teaching fit the description to a tee.
Once Jim Jones got all of his people to Jonestown, Guyana, guards were set in place to shoot anyone who tried to escape. In North Korea, President Kim Jong-il does all that he can to make sure that none of his citizens escape his perverted little prison-kingdom. So Jong-il, Jones and Muhammad are identical on this point. Every individual in this book shares this commonality: When they left Islam, they were either tortured or apprehended and threatened with death by their former co-religionists and oftentimes by their own family members in an effort to bring them back to Islam. If this took place at the Mormon compound in Texas, we would have already been treated to multiple news stories and documentaries exposing the perverse practices of this “cult”. But when it takes place among Muslims, the left-wing mainstream media glosses over it as a mere unfortunate cultural anomaly that we in the West simply don’t understand properly.
It should also be pointed out that Islam also possesses a trait that one normally associates only with totalitarian nations or regimes: It forbids any internal or external criticism. And again, it does this as a result of Muhammad’s example. As Islamic sacred tradition recalls, a man named Uqba was mocking Muhammad. Soon thereafter, Muhammad’s men captured him and Muhammad ordered that he be executed. The man pleaded, “But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?” In a rage, Muhammad shouted in response, “The hell-fire!” The man’s neck was cut and he was left dead.1
On another occasion, a poetess had written some satirical poetry about Muhammad. When Muhammad heard what was written, his response was to take to the pulpit and ask, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?” That night, one of Muhammad’s men crept into her house at night and although she had five children, with the youngest sleeping at her breast, the baby was removed and she was plunged through with a sword.2 The message was clear; criticize Muhammad and you will die. And today this message is still being trumpeted as critics of Islam are regularly assassinated, murdered or even worse—sued. And the sad reality is that the majority of the western world has shrunken back in fear and refused to speak the truth about what is taking place.
FP: What are the implications of incremental Sharia Law?
Richardson: We need to understand that when we see the occasional example of Muslim taxi drivers refusing to transport passengers with alcohol in their possession or a Muslim student threatening to kill a disabled student-teachers service dog, these are all early examples of a very clear progression. In the United States, the Muslim population is still roughly only 1%, so these types of events are still fairly rare. The Muslim population understands that its lobbying powers are weak. But if one looks to any nations where the Muslim population increases to roughly 5-8%, the push for the gradual incorporation of Islamic law becomes far more directed and organized. Instead of a rare example here or there, we will commonly experience threats, demands and lawsuits from the Muslim community.
When host nations are accommodating, the push becomes even more aggressive. Remember this quote from a prominent Muslim leader: “Thanks to your Democratic laws, we will invade you, thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.” The wholesale embrace of multiculturalism that most Western nations have adopted has led to the inevitability of the eventual tyranny of the minority over the majority. Already in many western European cities, smaller Islamic communities exist where Islamic law quite literally overrides the native laws of the land. But when one looks to the end result of this progression, when one looks to those nations where Islamic law is the most fully established, they will find some of the worst human rights violators in the earth. Freedom and liberty become nearly non-existent realities. Again, where Islam and Islamic law flourish, human rights and freedoms whither and die—it’s actually that simple.
FP: Can you talk a bit about the West’s preoccupation with “tolerance” to the detriment of freedoms and human rights? What are the consequences of tolerating those who are intolerant and who hate us and our freedoms?
Richardson: In the simplest terms, we in the West, and most particularly the United Sates value the principles of openness and tolerance. They are actually very good principles that have contributed greatly to who we are as a people. However, these principles have almost become national idols, sacred cows which cannot be challenged no matter how absurd the logical and practical implications. When we in the West place the principles of tolerance and openness above the principles of human rights and freedoms, then we have committed a great moral failure. We pat ourselves on the back and warmly ponder how magnanimous we are for being so open to Islam after 9-11, but the fact of the matter is that in doing so, we have only betrayed our nation and failed our children.
Unfortunately Islam is forcing us to choose between tolerance or human rights and freedoms. The paradox is clear, but we must recognize its presence. One cannot be hyper-tolerant toward the hyper-intolerant. One does not embrace the virus, the parasite or cancer. When CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper expresses that he desires to see the replacement of the United States government with an Islamic government and by extension Islamic law3, then the mainstream media needs to marginalize Hooper and groups like CAIR for what they are, Islamist enemies. Cancers. Period. But instead, they are embraced and treated with respect as if they should have a legitimate voice in the national discussion. This is where an irrational embrace of tolerance leads. Its suicide.
FP: How about the Civil Rights movement today as it relates to Islam?
Richardson: When one reads about the resistance that was faced by the early civil rights activists in the United States, it’s difficult not to well up with emotion. When one reads about the bravery shown and the blood that was shed for freedom, equal treatment, and human rights, one cannot help but wonder where the modern civil rights warriors have gone. Today when one looks to the Jesse Jacksons or the Al Sharptons, it is clear that these are not the inheritors of the legacy of Dr. King or the marchers at Selma. Where then are the true modern inheritors of the civil rights movement? Where are the kind of real men and women who risked it all and fought so bravely to found this great nation? Clearly, it is with these very brave individuals whose stories are shared in Why We Left Islam and with the tens of thousands of other former Muslims throughout the world who risk death to express that most simple of all freedoms; the freedom of conscience.
The heroes that you will read about in Why We Left Islam have shared their stories with us because they bear a deep conviction that freedom is worth standing up for. As Islam’s influence and population grows in the West and as the world becomes more globalized, the right to freely leave Islam is quickly becoming one of the premiere the human rights issues of the next one hundred years. My challenge to the Left today is this: Do you really believe all that you claim to stand for? Are you brave enough to stand in solidarity with these modern day civil right warriors? Whether you agree with the tenants of the War on Terror or not, tomorrow there will be multiple thousands of young American men and women who will wake up in Afghanistan or Iraq knowing that their lives are at risk. They do this because they believe in freedom. Do you have half the courage of these young men and women? If so, then prove it.
FP: Why does Islam forbid dissent, criticism and debate? How do such despotic elements lead to the corrosion of the intellectual progressivism of any civilization?
Richardson: The foundation for any truly intellectually progressive society is an atmosphere of unhindered and freeflowing public discussion and debate. There is a proverb in the Bible that says, “Iron sharpens iron.”4 Simply put, when any culture squelches the ability to freely debate and criticize, the collective intellect of that culture will be become dull. Again, because Islamic culture, after the example of Muhammad has undergone roughly fourteen hundred years of intellectual suppression, the intellectual progressivism of the Muslim world is also dull. Today, this intellectual suppression is making attempts to burst forth outside of the Muslim world. This rage against anything critical of Islam is being leveraged against the West, not only through violent protests and threats, but also through the courts. In recent days, we saw a young Afghan journalist sentenced to death for allegedly downloading an article questioning women’s roles in Islam. Nearer to home, in France, former iconic French actress Brigitte Bardot was fined over $23,000 for writing that “these people are ruining our country.” And in that icy American colony just north of us, author Mark Steyn is in court for writing material critical of Islam. There is a dark cloud on the horizon and those of us who value free-speech better begin to stand up in unison. Otherwise it will only be a matter of time before we are the intellectually backward culture.
FP: Joel Richardson, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Richardson: Thank you very much. If I live another year, I’d love to do it again sometime