Response to “What is Wrong With Muslims?”:  Intellectualized Ignorance

Jeff Siddiqui

Posted Jan 20, 2010      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Response to “What is Wrong With Muslims?”:  Intellectualized Ignorance

by Jeff Siddiqui

Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having an opinion.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

A friend forwarded me an article from the magazine Psychology Today blog, written by a British writer Satoshi Kanazawa who calls himself an “Evolutionary Psychologist” and works as a Reader at The London School of Economics.

The article, “What is Wrong With Muslims?” makes a great pretense of being scholarly and intellectual, but in reality, is an expression of disgusting, thoughtless, bigotry.

If Mr. Satoshi Kanazawa were a physician, one could accuse him of violating his sacred oath (“First, do no harm“) but he is not, and therefore, apparently feels quite free to add fuel to the flames of ignorance and bigotry about Muslims and Islam. I must say I was shocked to see his writings in Psychology Today, because his article fails even the most basic of pre-publication fact-checks.

Mr. Kanazawa makes sweeping statements about Islam and Muslims that defy reason and cannot stand against any degree of examination, it would appear that he is relying heavily on his own fantasies and on the opinions of some bigots who share his lack of knowledge and perhaps, his own biases against Islam and Muslims. If the Taliban-types are one side of the coin of hate and bigotry, Mr. Kanazawa represents the other side of the same coin, a side that seeks self-promotion by preying on the fears and ignorance of his audiences; his attitudes towards Muslims reflect the same bigotry and ignorance that sent thousands of Japanese-descent people to concentration-camps in the US and Canada during WWII.

We Muslims are extremely diverse people, we have our ethnicities, nationalities and sects and we adhere strongly to each of them. Mr. Kanazawa seems to have ignored the fact that wars between Muslim countries are not at all uncommon in fact, in the wars between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India, Muslims have fought each other on both sides and represented themselves with honor.

In his haste to create a monolithic “connection”, Mr. Kanazawa begins by stating, “True, most Muslims speak the same language – Arabic – but not all..”.  In fact, Arabs comprise only about 20% of the total world Muslim population, the majority being in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia…NONE of which are Arabic-speaking countries. He continues by suggesting that Maj. Hassan is, “not at all like other native-born American citizens; he’s not at all like other military officers; he’s not at all like other medical doctors or psychiatrists“. Mr. Kanazawa, should know that few people are as predisposed to gun-crimes as Americans…check out gun-violence statistics, he should also be ashamed to slap all Muslim physicians in America and all Muslim US soldiers, with the same criminal brand as Maj. Hassan. The birth- or faith-origins of select groups of violent people have no more to do with their origins, than people of any other groups…I doubt if Mr. Kanazawa would dare to write about all Jews as murderous, just because the Chief Israeli Military Rabbi Rontzki issued a memo in which he said the IDF should kill the whole Gazan population as a faith-imperative. Unfortunately, we do recognize that in this climate, targeting Muslims is a free hit with only upside potential.

Mr. Kanazawa leans on Thomas Friedman to take some more shots at us Muslims. From all the writings I have seen, Friedman can barely stand to see an Arab or a Muslim, without contempt in his eyes; he tailors his case against Muslims and Arabs, to suit his own political ends…a different topic better left for another time. Mr. Kanazawa embraces Friedmans ”50%” number without questioning how anyone could get such a number…or ANY number, he then extrapolates this fantasy into 120 MILLION Muslims, ready to commit suicide to kill others. When mentioning UK Muslims Mr. Kanazawa fails to note Pew 2007 number that 42% of overall British people were worried about Islamic extremism while 43% of British Muslims shared the same concern. In the same report, Mr. Kanazawa was shocked to note (SHOCKED! mind you), that for 81% of British Muslims, being Muslim is more important than (gasp!) being British. Mr. Kanazawa clearly ignores the other half of the same chart in which the Pew Report notes that 83% of the French consider themselves Christian first, as do 59% of the Germans, 63% Russians and 59% Britons…all traitors these, I am sure.

Contrary to Mr. Kanazawa’s wide-eyed question (Why is being Muslim so completely different from being anything else in the modern world today?), we Muslims are no different than any other people. We have our saints and our sinners, just as any other faith-group; we have our killers and our saviors too, just as any other group. Mr. Kanazawa’s writing is unprofessional to say the least, as Mark Twain remarked, “There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics“; Mr. Kanazawa’s article qualifies as a poster-representation of what Mark Twain was talking about.

For a respected magazine to swallow his bigotry and permit the publication of his calumnious article is deeply hurtful and disturbing to the people of good will who spend much of their energies to help make this world a better place for all humanity; Psychology Today owes their readers an apology…Mr. Kanazawa probably does not care.


Is your professor an Islamophobe?