On Saturday, the State Department released a press release condemning the recent deadly attacks in Baghdad. What’s interesting about this is that the United States government is now taking a quite public and official position on what is good for Islam qua Islam:
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks today in Baghdad. These attacks were aimed at families celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The terrorists who committed these acts are enemies of Islam and a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community.”
The idea that the federal government may and can speak on behalf of a “religion” is interesting in and of itself–that is, from a constitutional, empirical, and logical perspective. Might we hear that an Israeli policy of supporting settlements in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) is bad for Judaism or Zionism next? Or, maybe unmarried priests are bad for Catholicism? Shall we not say that the Hindu caste system, and all those who practice it, are bad for Hindu proper? Or, put another way, does the Hindu caste system make Hindu a “bad” religion?
On the one hand, we are told that Islam is not a single thing/ideology/theology, like Sharia, but a heterogeneous, culturally and theologically diverse belief/culture/ideology/religion that cannot be criticized because no group represents it exclusively. Yet, we somehow know that those we consider “bad” Muslims are not representative of the unknowable whole of Islam. Quite a feat. This of course is the same fallacy of those who attack “Islamophobes” on this basis. That is, how do you know that shariah-Islam is not what the “Islamophobes” say it is if you cannot know what it is in the first instance? This recalls of course the great contradiction in the underlying credo of the modern liberal: There are no absolutes, absolutely!
The problem we have in modern discourse is what can be referred to as arbitrary indiscrimination. When we choose, rather arbitrarily, to be “indiscriminate” about what a group is or how it is represented in order not to pass judgment on the whole, we reduce discourse to incoherence because human thought and speech is dependent on the creation of discriminating categories. (using the word ‘discriminate’ in the sense of “to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately: to discriminate between things.”)