In his post titled A Mosque Grows near Brooklyn Bill made the following statement:
“Muslims aren't very 'liberal,' are they? They are intolerant in their attitudes and their behavior. Now the touchstone of classical liberalism is toleration. Toleration is good, but it has limits. (See the posts in the category Toleration.) So why should we tolerate them when they work to undermine our way of life? The U. S. Constitution is not a suicide pact. We are under no obligation to tolerate the intolerant.”
This statement in turn provoked the following critical commentary by Prof. Richard Hennessey:
Now I personally know a number of Muslims. I can assure you that at least one of them is very liberal, at least one of them is tolerant in attitudes and behavior, and at least one of them is not working to “undermine our way of life.” The three universal statements that I see staring out at us from the quoted paragraph are all then false, as even the most rudimentary acquaintance with old Aristotle’s logic and its “square of opposition” would have you see.
(a) ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ might refer to a *religion* just like ‘Christianity’, ‘Judaism’, ‘Buddhism’, etc;
(Peter is of course aware that the noun 'Muslim' cannot be used to refer to the religion, Islam; his point is that 'Muslim' as an adjective in 'Muslim religion' can used to refer to the religion, Islam.)
(b) ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ might refer to a *class of people* whose heritage is Islam or adopted Islam as their religion;
(c) ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ might refer to *Islamism*, a radical form of Islam that declared a war on Western Culture;
(d) ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ might refer to a country that has Islam as its official religion.
We are now in the position to evaluate Bill’s claim and Prof. Hennessey’s critical comments as quoted above relative to each of the above categories. Clearly, Prof. Hennessey is right when Bill’s claim is evaluated relative to category (b). But then again no one who reads Bill’s post thinks that he meant to say that every person whose heritage is Islam or adopted this religion is intolerant, anti-liberal, and intent to undermine Western Culture (See Bill’s reply in his Addendum and Corrigendum (7/22). Nevertheless, Prof. Hennessey scores one run here.
What about Bill’s statement interpreted in light of category (a)? One way of so doing is asking the following question: Does Islam as a religion promote the values of liberalism, toleration, and the Western way of life? I challenge Prof. Hennessey to answer this question. So far as I know, Islam as a religion does not promote any of these values. So at least in the eyes of this umpire Bill scores one run here. Thus far, the score is tied one to one.
When it comes to (c), the verdict is fairly clear: I doubt that anyone, including Prof. Hennessey, would challenge the notion that Islamism or Muslim Extremists abhor liberalism, toleration, and the Western way of life. So, what about (d)? Once again I think it is fairly clear that in most Muslim countries there is very little tolerance of other religions and certainly it is prohibited and dangerous to promote alternative religions. Moreover, most of the countries that have Islam as their official religion are anti-liberal and do not tolerate very well the Western way of life. At least this is so for the last ten or so years.
So it seems that Bill is right on three counts, whereas Prof. Hennessey is right on one count. Final score: three to one in favor of Bill, unless Prof. Hennessey wishes to challenge this umpire's score card. I invite him to do so.