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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Once again, in a way, I am in agreement with Kersten in several ways in her latest kolumn, but for vastly different reasons than hers I suspect. It is about the ridiculousness of certain Muslim taxicab drivers refusing to take passengers with alcohol at the airport. This story, like the story about the bus driver who refused to drive buses with "pro-gay" advertisements, is something so repulsive to me it hurts my head. But since Kersten has commented on it, it's my job to do so as well.

Wingnuttia Level: 2 (Beware of hidden agendas)

Assuming that Kersten's facts can be trusted (sometimes a dubious assumption), apparently this started when the Muslim American Society put out a "fatwa" earlier this year saying that Muslim taxi drivers are prohibited from taking passengers with alcohol, because "it involves cooperating in sin according to the Islam." I am certainly no fan of religious stupidity of any kind. It makes no difference what religion it is. And this certainly qualifies as religious stupidity. If people have a problem with providing a public, regulated good to a customer carrying alcohol, then they should not be in business at all.

Kersten goes off into the background of the Muslim American Society, eventually making a connection to bin Laden, natch. Of course, taking issue with Muslims is nothing new for Kersten (see Keith Ellison). At the end, she tries to ask a serious-sounding question to let people know that her kolumn is quite serious: What should we do about religions that don't share our values?

What, indeed? What's missing here? Oh, that's right: every other stupid religion. Kersten stops with this particular fatwa; she doesn't talk about the bus driver who refused to drive the bus, a Christian following her own fatwa. Nor does she talk about Christian pharmacists who refuse to prescribe birth control, following yet another crazy fatwa. Something tells me that Kersten's troubles with arbitrary fundamentalist religious proclamations does not extend to Christianity or any other religions other than Islam.

Which is ultimately what makes this kolumn so disingenuous. As you read it, you know that she would be saying the exact opposite if she were talking about the bus driver or the pharmacist or the person against stem cell research or the person against gay marriage. Instead of seeing how these kinds of actions illuminate how dangerous mindless adherence to any religion can be, she tut-tuts the easy target. Not that I expect anything better.

So is Kersten really concerned about how religion and tolerance can be at odds with each other, or is she just using this incident as an excuse to trot out her views on Islam and these dark-skinned furriners? Once she starts taking rabid Christians to task, then perhaps I will start believing the former.

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