This Pakistani television interview, with English subtitles, I think emphasizes the importance of Westerners not to make blanket and stereotyped observations about “what Muslims believe” as a group. As with the majority of Christians and Jews, the majority of Muslims are genuinely perplexed by the psychology of the fundamentalists within their ranks, and try to understand what is motivating them:
From this interview, isn’t it obvious that the problem of religious violence and fundamentalism within Islam is not something pathological about Islam itself, but something pathological about the fundamentalist psyche? Ideologies, religious and secular, breed fanatics in times of accelerated cultural change and economic upheaval. What culture Dostoevskian “underground men” happen to spring from has to do with where the stress lies.
In light of this, does it really make sense, as New Atheist Jerry Coyne recently did at his blog site, to speak this way about Islam?:
Well, I’m not in favor of stereotyping individual Muslims, but as for Islam, well, it does seem to be an intrinsically belligerent religion. Read the Qur’an — you’ll find plenty of belligerence there. And if you object that the Old Testament is belligerent, too, look then all the imams calling for jihad. And how many Muslims stood up to protest the widespread jubilation in the Middle East that ensued after 9/11, or stood up to defend the right of Danish newspapers to publish cartoons mocking Mohamed?
This “New Atheist-neoconservative-Sam Harris” way of talking about Islam, as Robert Wright has recently observed, distorts the situation on the ground. One man in the video is an enemy of the West, and of democratic and liberal civilization, and the other, obviously, is not. Both men call themselves Muslims. As among Christians, Jews, and atheists, there are people you can talk to and people you can’t.