Islam and the Future of Tolerance

Photo credit: Harvard University Press

I’ve been meaning to touch on this topic in a proper post since the inception of this blog, but it’s such an emotionally and ethically loaded one that a starting point has yet to present itself. This is precisely part of the problem: no one should feel, on any topic, like they need to wait for the driftwood of an affirmation or like-mindedness to come their way in order to safely enter the currents. As Nawaz expresses here, in regard to the topic of Islamism, “those who shout the loudest are dominating the discourse,” and giving credence to voices in proportion to the level of outrage, anger or offense expressed, is a perfect strategy to steer us away from what should be the heart and focus of the discussion. It illegitimizes voices and discourages participation (dialogue) on the grounds of proportionate authority, and who, I ask you, grants this authority? To ask this is essential, always and without special clause.

Everyone, it’s true to say, holds a unique position in conversations like these, but likewise this should truly not have to be said. Never, never should it be taken to such extremes as censure, and worse still. “The Voldemort Effect” as outlined by Nawaz is not exclusive to the topic of Islamic extremism and Jihad, but it is here that it is the most pronounced, of most consequence at present to us societally and globally, and which most tempts declarations by supposed moderates and liberals about whom has the right to speak on – no – mention it. We each must recognize our respective positions in any discussion, and not hesitate to defer to those whose relationship to the given issues therein is more intimate, informed and pivotal to progress, as is Nawaz’s, Raif Badawi’s, Sarah Haider‘s among others, but we also musn’t render any topic off limits. Criticize what is said in discussion; do not criticize the right to discussion itself. If you’re critique extends, in any way, to the right of free speech, you yourself are the most deserving of criticism. Tolerance of intolerance is just intolerance, as Harris, Hirsi Ali, and many others have said. No idea has more authority than what we allow, and Islamism is one resplendent with intolerance. There’s not a single one among us who should be disallowed from saying it.

Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue releases online and in bookstores next month.


  1. Just finished this book. What I want to know is: where are all these speech stifling liberals that Harris is talking about? All I ever seem to hear is people complaining about no one calling out Islamism – which is, in itself, calling out Islamism. He published a book about it for Christ’s sake – who is stopping this conversation?

    1. First, thank you for taking time out of your day to read and comment. I appreciate it.

      I hope you’ll forgive my saying so, but your question is quite the ask.

      If you haven’t already noticed how pervasive and noxious (and dangerous) this problem has become in every public square, online and off—how, in all but the rarest exceptions, for example, politicians refuse to address the issue either at all or with the correct nouns (Islamism, Jihad), or how most universities now refuse to invite lecturers to speak on the topic (or disinvite ones they themselves invited) either through fear of violence or their own incendiary political correctness, or because their students have pressured them en masse to cancel said events, picketing them or threatening violence (anonymously) when they do not, then I can only suggest you make an effort to pay more honest attention to the political hemisphere we’re currently in the midst of globally.

      The liberals you reference – whom Nawaz calls the “Regressive Left” – have retarded our discourse on all contentious or otherwise merely uncomfortable subjects, and we’re now policing our own freedoms in our own discourse, obfuscating real issues (global Jihad) by lying about or mischaracterizing their impetus. Some of those perpetuating the problem are doing so with good (but flawed and/or naive) intentions, and others with knowing, calculated intention—but in both cases, unfortunately, the people who mean harm and destruction to us, to our basic freedoms, and to our entire civilizations, are being protected most by this activity. And this activity is enacted almost exclusively by liberals who are, it has to said, liberals in name and nothing else – the Regressive Left.

      Here are a few quick resources (off the top of my head) to make clearer what I’ve likely articulated very poorly:

      “The Lupus in Liberalism” – Daniel Miessler (article):

      “Islam and the Necessity of Liberal Critique” – Sarah Haider (video):

      “Closed Minds on Campus” – John H. McWhorter (article):

      “An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims” – Ali. A. Rizvi (article):

      “The Chapel Hill Murders and ‘Militant’ Atheism” – Sam Harris (podcast):

      I’m sorry if my comments came off in any way imperious, as that was not the intention. Your question was incredibly broad, however, whether or not you realized it. At any rate, thanks again for taking the time to interact.

      – Kylan