Ben Affleck: Portrait of Islam’s Clueless Apologists
The value of actor Ben Affleck’s recent outbursts in defense of Islam on HBO’s Real Time is that here, in one 10-minute segment, we have all the leftist/liberal bromides used whenever Islam is criticized.
In what follows, Affleck’s main arguments are presented and then discredited.
Relativism and the Islamic Heterogeneity Myth
At the start, when author Sam Harris began making some critical remarks concerning Islam, a visibly agitated Affleck interrupted him by somewhat sarcastically asking, “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that?”
Affleck was essentially arguing that really no one is qualified to say what is or is not Islamic, since all Muslims are free to interpret Islam anyway they want. This notion has less to do with how Islam is practiced and more to do with Western relativism, specifically the postmodern belief that there are no “truths,” that everything is open to individual expression. Thus even if an Islamic sheikh from Al Azhar University were to tell Affleck that the criticism leveled against Islam were true, the actor would no doubt reply, “Fine, that’s your opinion, but I know that most other Muslims disagree.”
The fundamental mistake in this position is that it places Muslims on a higher pedestal of authority than Islam itself (even though muslims are by definition “one’s who submit” to islam, which is “submission” to Allah’s laws). Islam is based on the law, or Sharia -- “the way” prescribed by Allah and his prophet. And Sharia most certainly does call for any number of things -- subjugation of women and religious minorities, war on “infidels” and the enslavement of their women and children, bans on free speech and apostasy -- that even Affleck would normally condemn.
In short, Sunni Islam, which approximately 90% of all Muslims follow, is far from heterogeneous. It has only four recognized schools of jurisprudence, and these agree over the basics, with only minor differences over detail. Even in the other 10% of Islamic sects, most of which are Shia or Shia offshoots, one finds that when it comes to intolerant aspects, they too are in agreement. For example, while all Islamic schools of law prescribe the death penalty for leaving Islam, some argue that female apostates should “only” be imprisoned and beat until they embrace Islam again.
The ‘Racism’ Card
When Bill Maher, the host of Real Time, asked “But why can’t we talk about this [Islamic issues]?” Affleck shot back with, “Because it’s gross, it’s racist.”
This meme is as common as it is absurd and does not deserve much rebuttal. Suffice to say that Muslims are not a race. There are Muslims of all nations, races, ethnicities -- from sub-Saharan Africans to blonde haired, blue-eyed Europeans. Yet many apologists for Islam, including congressmen and congresswomen, habitually rely on this lie -- I won’t even deign to call it an “apologetic” -- simply because accusing someone of being “racist,” in this case, critics of Islam, is one of the surest way of shutting them up.
Conflating Muslim Teachings with Muslim People
At one point, after the other speakers made certain statistical points, Affleck made the following outburst, to much applause: “How about the more than a billion people [Muslims], who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who wanna go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you’re saying of all Muslims. It’s stereotyping.”