‘Je Suis Le Monde’


Co-authored by Kilike Steyn

Last week, in “Je Suis Turkey,” I reflected on Western concerns for white, Western Christians but the lack of Western concern for olive- skinned, Turkish Muslims. I attributed our lack of concern to our very natural but equally lamentable bigotry. The next day, suicide bombers murdered 35 people in Brussels. White, Western, Christians from Iggy Azalea to the Boston Red Sox immediately tweeted their concern for Brussels and its innocent victims.

‘Je Suis Turkey’

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In January 2015, extremists killed 12 people at the offices of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. The phrase, Je Suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) swept Twitter and then Facebook and then newspapers and then the world. Je Suis Charlie expressed empathy for the cartoonists as well as support for freedom of speech.

Millions of people, including more than 40 world leaders, marched the streets of Paris in solidarity. These world leaders included British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, EU President Donald Tusk, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Syrian Refugees Are Not a Risk to America


Syria’s civil war, to which US inaction (early on) and action (indiscriminate bombing later on) have contributed, has created the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory. According to MercyCorp, 7 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes within Syria and 4 million refugees have fled their war-ravaged country. Turkey is hosting about 2,000,000 Syrian refugees while Jordan is hosting nearly 700,000. One in five people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee (imagine accommodating a rapid influx of 60,000,000 destitute refugees to the US and you have some sense of the scale of the problems).

Muslims and Christians: On Worshipping the Same God

Suppose there is a God who a long, long time ago spoke to Abraham, promising to bless the world through his descendants. Suppose his descendants told their friends who told their friends who told their friends about Abraham’s encounter with God, with some of those friends identifying as Jews, some as Christians, and some as Muslims. Their descriptions agree in many respects, even important ones — they all believe, for example, that God is one, merciful, just and Creator. Their descriptions of God also differ in some respects. Christians, for example, think that God was incarnate in Jesus while Muslims and Jews reject the Trinity. And they, Muslims-Christians-Jews, even call God different names — among them, Yahweh, the Father and Allah.

Why Don’t Moderate Muslims Denounce Terrorism?

ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

They do. But it doesn’t make the news. Bad news, such as terrorist attacks, is news. Good news is not.

Immediately after the San Bernardino shootings, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, said, “The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mind-set that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence.” Tahmina Rehman, president of Buffalo’s Women’s Auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, criticized the shootings, noting that those who are truly faithful to the Quran live lives of peace and humility. Roshan Abbassi, an assistant imam at a San Bernardino mosque, said: “We are all against terrorism. … We all want peace.” Saira Khan, the sister of the shooter, said, “I believe that that’s not Islam. Islam condemns killing or hurting of anybody. Any person.”

The Solution to Radicalization Begins at Home

Here’s one strategy for preventing terrorism: slam the door to immigration. Give in to our irrational fears and shut them Muslims out. Put some boots on the ground and wipe them Muslims out. Problem solved.

Giving into our fears arises from a perceived threat to our community. The instinct toward intolerance seems to be, or to have been, a healthy defense mechanism, protecting one’s own community from threats to its survival. Unfortunately, this healthy defense mechanism, one that protects one’s community, has a dark side; it has motivated vicious and even deadly acts of intolerance.

‘I Hope They’re Not Muslims’

As officials scurried about Paris assessing the damage and seeking to identify the culprits, I know my Muslim friends were thinking, “I hope they’re not Muslims.”

Were innocent people killed again in the name of Allah? If so, my Muslim friends know that Muslims will once again be defined not by what they believe and how they live, but by the actions of a vicious few who pervert the meaning of Islam. They fear that “Muslim” and “terrorist” will become even more deeply seared into the Western psyche.

Rappin’ Religion’s Solution to the Puzzle of Human Cooperation

As an older(ish) parent of three kids, I’m usually a reluctant listener to rap music. My kids have taught me to appreciate some rap songs, especially those that express heartfelt anguish such as “Cleaning Out My Closet” and “Thugz Mansion” or address social injustices such as “God Bless Amerika” and “Fight the Power.” And who can forget the radical yet lyrical critique of the drudgery of working for the man in “9 to 5”? Wait, that was Dolly Parton. Never mind.

For all its angsty artistry, I have to ask of rappers, “what about my needs?” where “me” means “wonderer at the intersection of philosophy, science, and religion.”

Should Scientists Be Atheists? More Nonsense From Lawrence Krauss

While Lawrence Krauss has publicly denounced philosophy, he can’t seem to stop himself from doing it and doing it badly (and publicly, to boot). His lack of intellectual self-control is remarkable given that he is an accomplished physicist. He might have profited in his latest rant, “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists,” by a course in elementary logic.

This diatribe was prompted by the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage license to gay couples. He writes of militant atheism and science, “I found myself thinking about those questions this week as I followed the story of Kim Davis….” How this totally non-scientific event is relevant to his scientific thesis is mind-boggling.

A Tale of Two Beer Cities

It was the best of beers, it was the worst of beers. To my friend, Steve Ruis, co-owner of two swanky beer and cheese joints in our hometown of Grand Rapids, MI (Art of the Table and Aperitivo), it was the best of the more than thirty beers we tasted on our two-city Belgium beer tour. To JP Van Seventer, our friend from Amsterdam, and me, it tasted overwhelmingly, lip-twistingly, noxiously sweet-sour. Mostly sour. “Sniff it first,” Steve suggested. “It has the aroma of old socks.” JP and I heartily concurred but this was not exactly a selling point.