As you may have read in what was supposed to be my last word on the subject of Islam, I am torn on the issue. I have nothing against Muslims, but I have everything against the religion. Love the sinner, hate the sin, is another way of putting it.
And the liberal, people-loving side of me really wants to be tolerant and inclusive. I want the "coexist" bumper stickers to reflect my personal philosophy in some way. But it doesn't. Just because all religions are equally wrong does not mean that they are all equally benign. As an atheist, I look for the truth in things. As a humanist, I look for the morality. And Islam - as a religion, of course, but also as a culture - is immoral.
Just as before, not all cultures are equally harmful, so Muslims living in Saudi Arabia are not representative of Muslims living in Michigan. I don't know too much about Muslims who are culturally Western, although the few that I have met did exhibit a slightly shocking level of misogyny and homophobia (a word that doesn't seem to capture the essence of the disdain, disregard and absolute hatred that it is supposed to define). I won't use the isolated cases of Muslims in my personal experience to speak for everyone and I won't even make any guesses about individuals in any country.
But there are facts to consider. In the Middle East it is routine for women to be stoned to death for adultery. In the Middle East it is routine for thieves to have their hands cut off. In the Middle East it is routine for homosexuals to be killed simply for being gay. This is not a sensitivity issue. It is wrong. This is simply the tip of the iceberg of problems and social injustices endemic in Islamic society, but for now I think it serves my point.
And it is absolutely true that not all Muslims approve of these practices. It is perhaps even true that some of these practices are not specifically called for by Islam but are cultural elements of a geographic society. But it is true that it is absolutely justified by use of the faith itself. Christianity is a religion that is equally false and almost equally dangerous, but it has been diluted and defanged by science and the Enlightenment and by centuries of revolutions and reformations. Practically no practicing Christian actually intends to stone women, children or homosexuals, even though the commands to do so could not be more clear.
But those caveats are red herrings. They are distractions from the fact that states like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Somalia (perhaps not much of a state these days, but whatever) routinely employ dramatic and brutal punishments for what we would consider to be civil offenses. These societies are underpinned by a viciously evil interpretation of a religion. I want to grant everyone equal love. I don't mind if everyone wants to quietly, privately practice their own religion. But when a religion is responsible for inciting brutish and primitive evil, I cannot pretend to just accept it as a healthy and normal facet of their religion. These practices are not worth keeping or even remembering as anything but a bloody bad memory. The Catholic Church should not be proud of its behavior during the Inquisition, Germany is certainly not proud of its Fascist past; so should the Islamic Middle East put this religious tyranny behind them and look forward to a peaceful, secular future.