I see that KPFA, the Public Broadcasting System station in Berkeley, California, has cravenly disinvited Richard Dawkins from speaking because he said:
It’s tempting to say all religions are bad, and I do say all religions are bad, but it’s a worse temptation to say all religions are equally bad because they’re not.
If you look at the actual impact that different religions have on the world it’s quite apparent that at present the most evil religion in the world has to be Islam.
… saying because that’s their culture so you have to accept it … well … to hell with their culture.
Now, I’ve spent a good portion of my life working overseas, so I’ve been exposed to a lot of local cultures and customs. And up to a certain point in my life, I believed that the different cultures and customs were each an equally valid way to live in the world.
I lost my innocence about this issue when I was working in the Solomon Islands, which is just below the equator north of Australia. It’s a curious place because there are about eighty totally separate languages spoken there. I knew that from my reading before I first went there.
But what I hadn’t realized before my arrival of was that eighty languages meant that there were eighty totally separate and different cultures there.
Now, at the time I was the Country Director for a development organization, something along the lines of Save the Children but aimed at the whole family and village. And one of the projects was to try to support people in maintaining their own cultural identity against the introduction of foreign ideas, whether from other local cultures or from the West. We wanted them to be proud of their history and the way that they lived. So the agency made and distributed a bunch of T-shirts that said
KIPIM KASTOM BLONG IU
Obviously not English … instead, it is Solomon Islands Pijin, the lingua franca of a place where nobody speaks anyone else’s language. However, it is based on English, as becomes obvious if I write it out as though it were English words. In that case, it says
KEEP’M CUSTOM BELONG YOU
… in other words, hold on to your customs, they are valuable.
So I thought I was doing good for the world, what’s not to like?
That lasted until the day I was upbraided by a woman in the street in Honiara, the capital of the country. Whoa, she laid into me something fierce, she was furious about the T-shirt. I was blindsided, I had no idea what she was on about.
When I asked why she was so upset, the essence of her answer, translated from Pijin into English, was as follows:
“Why am I mad about the T-shirt? Because I’m from XXXX Island. On XXXX in our custom the island women are considered to be somewhere between the island pigs and the island dogs. And when Western ideas about the equality of women started to get to our island, for the first time in our lives we had hope.
“Then you come along with your God-damn T-shirt, and now all the men are saying ‘See? The white man agrees that we should hold on to our own customs where women are not equal to men!“
Man, I wanted to crawl into a hole. I felt lower than the gum on my shoe sole. It’s painful enough to find I’ve done something bad by accident.
But to find out that I had done something bad when I was totally convinced that I was doing something good … that was unbearable. I slunk back to my office in shame and hung my head.
And ever since that day, I have held a very different view of different cultures. From then on, my new view was and remains:
SOME CULTURES ARE VILE
Yes, I know that is not politically correct. We’re supposed to make allowances for these things … and I used to do that, but no more.
I’m sorry, but a culture that keeps women on XXXX Island somewhere between island pigs and island dogs is a vile culture that needs to be either reformed or stamped out. It should be neither supported nor tolerated. We should not pretend that it is OK.
And sad to say, the same thing is true of Islam. As Dawkins said, “To hell with their culture”. It is a culture which is anti-human, anti-freedom, and more than anything, anti-women. The men of XXXX Island were rank amateurs at keeping women submissive and under their thumbs compared to the men of Islam.
For me, a culture whose “Holy Book”, the Koran, clearly says that it is perfectly fine for men to keep civilian female prisoners of war as perpetual sexual slaves is not a religion. It is a vile sickness that as I said above, needs to be either reformed or stamped out entirely. Those kinds of barbaric ideas worked fine in the year 632 … but they are absolutely not acceptable in 2017.
My best to everyone, Muslims included,
PPS—When I wrote this, I said that the woman was from Savo Island, because that is what I remember. My friend who worked on Savo says that he thinks it unlikely that it was Savo, based on his experience there.
And it is possible that thirty years after it happened, my memory of the island name is wrong … although the memory of the humiliation I felt is as fresh as yesterday.
As a result, I’ve taken the name out of my account of what happened to me. It is immaterial to the point that I am making, and I do not want to needlessly insult anyone.