October 30, 2016

Southern Poverty Law Center Equates Reasoned Criticism of Islam With Hate and Bigotry

Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has been clear for some time that at least some of the regressive left would like nothing better than to convince us that the criticism of Islam is "gross and racist." They refuse to acknowledge the realities of Islam in order to maintain a potentially destructive narrative where all cultural beliefs, including religious beliefs, are equally valid and deserving of respect. And it now appears that they have found a new ally in their efforts: the Southern Poverty Law Center.

As you have almost undoubtedly heard by now, the Southern Poverty Law Center has added Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz to their list of 15 "prominent anti-Muslim extremists." The list takes the form of their Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists, which is described as "a resource on anti-Muslim public figures for reporters and media professionals."

The Southern Poverty Law Center is quite clear in explaining how they would like to see their guide used by members of the news media in their coverage of Islam:
We hope journalists will use this guide to learn more about these extremists and the damage they cause to society and either deny them a public platform altogether or be better prepared to publicly challenge their hateful rhetoric and misinformation.
It sounds as though they would prefer that the news media deny access to their platforms to anyone on this list, unless it is to expose "the damaging impact they have" or their efforts to "spread hate and bigotry." This is their attempt to inform the media that anyone on this list is a bigoted extremist.

If you know anything at all about Nawaz and Hirsi Ali, you already know why this is a problem. I'm too mad at the moment to express myself clearly, so I'll settle for pointing you to a few of the reactions from around the atheist blogosphere which I believe are worth your time:
They've all said what needs to be said much better than I could anyway.

Here is a petition asking the Southern Poverty Law Center to remove Nawaz and Hirsi Ali from their list.

Update: Unfortunately, I've seen many reports indicating that the Southern Poverty Law Center has made it clear that they will not remove these individuals from their list. I suppose that means we will each need to decide for ourselves whether we can continue to support them.