In his Nobel lecture on Dec. 11, 1950, British logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.” Noble motives, he added, deserve our inquiry, for they’re often but façades.
On the whole, flamethrowers like Geller bear negligible influence. They crawl out of the bowels of the Internet, set things on fire, and then ebb back into nonexistence. They’re not so much movers and shakers as they are nuisances whose rhetoric about Muslims, while popular among dwellers of their dark online world, raises the eyebrows of others who find its content and delivery fantastically jarring.
More worrisome when it comes to Islam are those whose brand of prejudice is of a milder variety. A popular cadre of feminists is one such group. Their personal stories of trauma to triumph, and their overtures of liberalism and reform have captivated Western audiences over the past decade. Yet dampened as it is beneath the acoustic theme songs of public radio programs or the applause lines of late-night talk show audiences, their message is virtually identical to that of their more strident colleagues: Islam is a uniquely problematic religion and Muslims worldwide must embrace the ideals of the West to drag it out of its deep and dreadful slumber.
In recent weeks and months they’ve reemerged, harnessing violent flashpoints from groups like ISIS as an occasion to lament once more the everlasting failure of Muslims to measure up to American and European values.
Read more at Salon.