Building Alliances While Preserving the Principles – Q&A

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Jonathan Brown

Channel: Jonathan Brown

Episode Notes

With Hatem Bazian

Episode Transcript

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Okay, so I got

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this thing on. Yeah.

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So the number of questions which are coming in these compressions come up again and again, they're good questions. If you're interested in that, you know, basically the question is how can you square supporting, let's say rights and LGBT groups with Muslims not agreeing with their actions? Or lifestyles? Isn't that enjoining? Wrong instead of enjoying? Right? And if you're me, this is a really good debate. So I don't I don't pretend to, you know, have complete domination of this debate. And if you're interested, that your clean Institute article I told you about, I think it's called Islam and LGBT rights revisited. That is two parts as my argument and then after that is

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diagnosed Dr. Shadow mustard, you know, dark shadow mystery. So he is then he has a rebuttal of my argument, you can go and see both sides of this argument is very useful, I think. Okay.

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So

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what but it's I think it's very important when to understand what the debate is right. And some of this is not.

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I think it's still very relevant, maybe it's not so relevant as it was three or four years ago, but still very well. And it will be relevant. Again, if it's not music relevant today, which is what we're arguing, we're not arguing for other people committing sins, we are arguing that the the way that rights and album are understood in United States, especially, for example, rights to marriage rights to be able to do your will, according to Sharia law, right? That these not be controlled by Western European Christian cultural baggage. So the way that marriage is understood and religion is understood in United States is highly influenced by Western European Christianity, not Christianity,

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Western European Christianity, culture, a very good example of this is the idea that polygamy is illegal. So why is polygamy illegal? Now, but you know, let's say homosexual relations, sex outside of marriage, all these other things are completely completely legal. But polygamy is illegal. It's a little I think it's getting less this objection is getting less now. But this aversion to polygamy is a hallmark of Western European culture. The only a small minority only 16, one 6% of human societies in history, have said monogamy is the only way to go is a very minority position in humans in the way the human society, human species, but it's very particular to Roman culture, and then

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eventually Western European culture. And so what it's not that I as a Muslim support gay marriage, I as a Muslim support a notion of marriage that isn't defined by Western European culture, which is the same exact thing that that that say the gay marriage advocate wants, we It's not that I support that person's activity, we both want a common objective.

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So that's very important. And along with that idea is yes, we should not do unbootable Moon code, we should not do nahi under the roof.

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If someone asks us, do you think that living a gay lifestyle is good? We should say no, we do not think this is good. We do not think this is healthy. We don't think that we think this is a sin in the eyes of God. We don't support it.

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Um, and we can we, you know, we should, should try and educate people about this. I mean, let's take an example of things like transgender issues.

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When, like,

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someone in my kid's friend, his four year old girl, her mom said, Do you know our kid is now a boy, and has changing a name and everything like that?

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And

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this friend of ours wanted us to support this. And we said, you know, no, we don't support this, we don't think is right.

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And I'm happy to go and argue that point, right, I can make of lots of good arguments, why don't think it's right to take a four year olds opinion about what their gender is, and then make that the rule. Okay, I can think of a lot of good reasons as not a good idea for society or for that child in general. And we should go out and make this argument, but when it comes, for example, the transgender bathroom issues.

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We both want the same thing, right? When I went to boarding school, I went to boarding school, right? We showered It was a big room with lots of different showerheads. And we went in there we all showered and played so hockey, etc, etc. Now, I had a great time. If I wasn't Muslim back then I can't take my Muslim kid and put them in that boarding school. So what

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I want I want to have a bunch of little stalls, each with a showerhead, with a little like change your door so that person can change and not be seen by other people. And guess who else wants the exact same thing? hoops that are interested in transgender issues changes your rights, transgender rights. So again, we want the same objective.

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And, you know, a really good interesting hypothetical is what about let's say a politician in your local in your in your area says, I want to pass a law that says that

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men have to can't go jogging with their shirts off?

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That's interest. There are places like in Ontario, other places, the United States someplace United States where you cannot men cannot jog with their shirts off. Does their lead your local laws? Right? This is an interesting question. Because now you're a Muslim, what are you going to? What are you going to say when someone asks you about that law?

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I mean, my get my I don't, I don't want to be like, whichever called married to this answer. But my my argument would be you I would support that law provided it applies to everybody.

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Right, so I'm not going to discriminate. It's not going to be about gay or straight or, or one group or another group. But this could just be a general law that applies to everybody, I would actually be okay with it. I think Muslims should be when there are instances that come up where we do have a chance to advocate for what we know is true for society. We should advocate for those things, even though those those might not be the liberal things to do. And if other people say, Well, why are you being, you know, conservative? or Why are you trying to restrict our rights? We said we were arguing This isn't about restricting rights. We are arguing for something that we think is good for society.

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We don't think that immodesty is good for society. Well, then just I don't want to like go on for a long time. But the

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someone asked about Jesus centered interfaith activity, where you have sort of a interfaith group with Christians is based around the person of Jesus, Lisa Salaam,

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I think that's fine. But like, with all these type of arrangements, or or collaborations, you have to be very clear that you're a partner, you're not a, you're not, no one's doing you a favor by bringing you on board.

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And you means you have to have an awkward but very important conversation where you say, these are my expectations, these are my limits. These are how these are the red lines for me. And just like you respect the other person's red lines, they should respect yours. So you say for example, I don't want to have, let's say pictures of Jesus. I don't want to have because, of course, he's always white and fixtures anyway, right? So, you know, he's always like this super arion guy. So you know, I don't want pictures, I don't want to have let's say the across. But if you want to have other, let's say, the symbol is like about the name of Jesus and like it's it kind of almost calligraphic.

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That's a that's something that we could work with. And if the other person says, Well, that's not okay with me, then maybe you shouldn't work with them. That's just my opinion. Other people might disagree with me.

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I think

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the question that was that's in here about Jewish groups wanting interfaith dialogue, but make a non discussion of Palestine, a condition for collaboration? And how do we reconcile these issues about

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basically, humanity, flexibility, and also making sure that the issues are not ignored. And I think this touches on the broader debate in this country, especially among Muslims that are being invited to a particular ecumenical deals with segments of the organized

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zinus community in the United States, I make a distinction between Zionist organized community versus the Jewish community, broadly speaking, so this ecumenical deal that is being struck, we're seeing part of it with what's called the Muslim Leadership Initiative, the shalom Hartman institute that takes Muslim leaders to Jerusalem to try to educate them about the centrality of Israel and Zionism, to Jewish Americans. But in here, Jewish Americans again, specifically about the organized Jewish community that is beholden to Zionism, rather than the broader arena. In addition, there are many other smaller projects that are taking place, the American Jewish Congress or American Jewish

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Committee, engaging in an ecumenical partnership that is struck with ISNA. And I think that there has been considerable pushback on this. Now, AGC has been in my view and research one of the

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The primary purveyor of Islamophobia that given the stage two major Islamophobic figure they gave the Courage Award to iron Hirsi Ali. They promoted the books of Steven Emerson promoted the books of Daniel pipes.

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And their list of figures that promote is the one who from the Islamophobia industry. So not every hug that is given to you, because you're feeling pain, you need to take the hug because some of these hugs are actually just situating you even in a much more, better position to take another hit rather than being able to forge your own path. So in discussing alliances and relations with segment of the American Jewish Committee, American segment of the American Jewish community, there has to be some principles in there meaning justice is indivisible. Yes, I want to work on Islamophobia. But I want to work on Palestine as well. And therefore, working on Islamophobia, while simultaneously

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constantly demonizing Palestinians constantly tarnishing their standing, the only material that comes out is actually negative relative to the Palestinians from certain segments, whether AGC ADL jcrc. And the rest of them, then that is very, very problematic. Some are arguing that the Jewish community or the organized Jewish community is providing for us possibly access because they're very well connected, and therefore this access might help us well.

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My sense is that there is no such thing as a free lunch in America. If somebody is giving you access, the question is that what they are gaining in return? Because in the political arena, everyone is pursuing their set of interests? So what is the interest of AJC? Or ADL or shalom Hartman to give you a complete free dinner, meaning a fully paid trip to Israel, a whole year project? What is their interest? And I think you need to answer that question. If you're invited to that partnership, what is their interest? And also what is your interest? And I think there has to be an articulation of what is the Muslim interest, even if you want to have an engagement, let's

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say, I want to engage with x organization, let's say jcrc is inviting us What is your interest? Is that interest? Because you think that they're going to open the door for you, then what door? Is that? That is being open? And is it a contingent or or is it really an arrival on your part? I think Muslims need to take themselves seriously. We need to arrive, but we need to arrive on our own terms there. Why is it that there's so much investment with segments of the American Jewish Committee but there is no such investment with the African American community or the Latino community? When was the last time you've been invited to have a dialogue with the Latino churches?

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It seems as if you're from a strategic perspective, just pure strategic perspective, the Latino communities and increasing increasing community. They're close to about 50 million. They're rising community in various states. If you're in California, if you're New Mexico, if you're in Nevada, Arizona, if you're in Texas, alright, if you're in Florida, and you're not doing any work with the Latino community, then what is it that is motivating you unless again, you assume you assume that the Jewish community is very powerful in a position which for me is, again, is another aspect of anti semitic projection. They're successful, but they're humanely successful in same way and our

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community. Right. So what is it that you're expecting? Essentially, you're trying to buy a short ticket to a think of empowerment, and I think you are falsely understanding this. More broadly, the same community that you're seeking relationship with, has been almost constantly derailing our effort, our empowerment, and I will just end with the following

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the most recent election for the Democratic chair ship position, Keith Ellison was running for the position of the chair of the Democratic Party. I have my disagreement with Keith, right, but I defend him on the principle that they attacked him specifically on anti semitism. They tarnished his standing in the last few days of the campaign, AGC took a position against him. ADL took a position against him. jcrc took a position against him. APAC took a position against him in relations with anti semitism. Right. And that's how they do relay derailed the highest ranking Muslims in the country that was spying for the highest position within the democratic committee or Democratic

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Party. And literally a week after they were holding the gathering with Isner. What double

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A gathering that is only seeking symbolic relations but actually completely derailing real empowerment. Okay, you need to actually insist for real empowerment, not symbolic capital. In here many of these efforts are seeking symbolic capital. Let's have a halal kosher I'm for halal kosher. Let's have a photo let's, let's read the text about, you know, Allah and Yahweh and read the religious texts, the Talmud, and the Quran. That's for me is all symbolic engagement that is not about empowerment in the American society. So you need to know where your interests, articulate your interest, and then pursue it and then identify who's actually standing in your way and who's

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actually is assisting you, it seems that we're only trying to engage those are, collectively are standing against our collective self interest in the United States. And lastly, some of these organizations are engaged or some of their board members have been engaged in demonization of Muslims, and the funding for the Islamophobia industry in this country and in Europe. 75% of it comes from Pro Israel sources. If you don't understand this, then you need to get it into your understanding before you actually begin the ABC of any type of engagement with segments of the Zionist American Jewish community.