The Five Lenses: A Hindu Rebuttal to Ex-Muslims of North America and their Ex-Muslim Cohorts
Table of Contents for The Five Lenses
1st Lens: Atheism
2nd Lens: Anecdotal Experience
3rd Lens: Secularism
4th Lens: Nietzschean Philosophy
5th Lens: Human Rights versus Religious Tolerance
In this lens, I will be using my own anecdotal experience to critique Ex-MNA. Perhaps many will find these views disagreeable . . . but be aware they’re the truth as I see it. I’ll be sharing personal details for this essay and I’ve opted for a stream of consciousness narrative because of that. I want people to understand the full context.
First, I should probably explain how I learned of Ex-MNA; I had found them from looking through a blog when searching for atheistic critiques of Islam and running short of examples outside of the New Atheist movement. Eventually, I happened upon the blog of an Ex-Muslim atheist who seemed to be an apologist for Islam and on the side of his tab was a video by Ex-Muslims of North America (Ex-MNA). I soon began devouring the hour and a half long videos in my spare time to get a better understanding of Islam and from there, I gained more confidence in looking into Islamic resources after getting a better understanding of the internal logic of Islam. For my research into different religions, I felt it was important to understand the internal logic of each religion and then compare or contrast that with modern studies of psychology and logical fallacies. I eagerly listened to their human rights campaigns and familiarized myself with the Atheist Youtube community soon after thanks to many of the Atheist Youtubers like GM Skeptic sharing info on other Youtubers like VeeduVidz. When looking into books that these Ex-Muslim atheists had written, I sadly didn’t find much but I did purchase Armin Navabi’s book and read through the entirety of it in a few days. Overall I would say that I was a huge fanboy of theirs for most of 2018 going into 2019 as I was genuinely enjoying most of their content.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, I financially backed them for most of 2018, for approximately 12 straight months I was donate between $50 – $100 monthly. Sometimes only $25, but often it was $100+ per month for roughly 12 months because I genuinely believed in their cause of promoting Secularism, Enlightenment Values, and Human Rights for Ex-Muslims in danger. Most importantly, and the reason that convinced me to support them, was their claim that they were open to questioning their beliefs. They provided a very convincing argument and I was certainly charmed by their intellectual rigor. Looking back, I was also concerned from a human rights standpoint on the horrifying prospect of people being murdered for the crime of thinking differently from a religion that they had been born into. The worst aspect about Ex-MNA’s revelations about Islam was that if they were to be taken seriously, then the entirety of the Western Liberal media had purposefully lied, and continues to lie, about the dangers of Islam to society and about the suffering of Ex-Muslim victims. This blindsided me because I had to begin questioning what I learned about Islam in a class that went into great lengths covering Political Islam only to learn that was wrong. When I began researching on my own using Ex-MNA’s information as a vantage point, I realized that Greater and Lesser Jihad wasn’t part of Islamic theology as was claimed by a Professor in several Political Science classes I had taken for my degree. I think that was an unexpected personal blow that hurt the most after learning more from Ex-MNA videos. I suspect the Professor in question, being a Muslim himself, probably viewed Islam through rose-tinted glasses since he would mention that Al Qaeda and ISIS simply didn’t understand the complexities of Islam. I want to be clear: this Muslim professor was mostly great with everything else as far I am aware in the information that he provided since they were verified by respected US analysts and he himself is a proud American who has worked for the US government out of loyalty to US interests, but when it came to questioning his own religion? It was a blind spot that he and probably others in many college faculties don’t want to acknowledge because it pushes into the taboo of criticizing religion due to the Western construct of religious tolerance for all religious beliefs.
The most surprising aspect of this was learning how Muslim communities apparently behaved even in the US. I’ve had Muslim neighbors, Muslim tenants via my parents renting our house several years ago when I was a kid, and I even have cousins who identified as Muslim for most of their lives. I was never made aware of any of these exclusively Muslim issues that existed. Perhaps it had to do with where I was located in the US, perhaps most of the Muslim friends and family were simply nominal Muslims, or perhaps they just thought it was part of their culture and not something that I would understand. When I went to Muslim houses throughout my life, nobody was being forced to wear a hijab (it would have been considered laughable in all the houses I went to), none of the Muslim family members or friends struck me as believing something more dangerous than any other religious belief, and I never witnessed nor was ever told about any Muslim communities leaving threatening phone calls for any of my cousins no longer identifying as Muslim. None of that ever happened and I was never treated horribly by any except this one incident in my childhood which had more to do with a particular neighbor’s ego than anything associated with religion. I never experienced any discrimination from Muslims, but nor was I ever witnessing any domestic issues outside of what seemed normal in the context of a divorce that had happened in a cousin’s family. If anything, it was the opposite; I was accused of being Muslim because of my skin tone and experienced such discrimination along with Muslim (or in some contexts, Ex-Muslim) family members. For example, when my cousin eagerly wanted to show me a local ice cream shop that had soda flavored additions to their ice cream and explained how he had wanted for the both of us to perhaps spend time there since it was his favorite place. Almost immediately after he explained how much he enjoyed the place, the owner of the store came by standing a few feet away from where we sat and loudly commented that he didn’t seem to be getting enough customers and how “It must be because of you people!” with every word growing louder as he finished his spiel while looking pointedly at us. I noticed the cashier froze as she was counting the cash register since it was near closing time. For a moment, he stared at us and we just stared back with an uneasy silence hanging over the area. From our view, it had seemed as if he had expected us to leave after his outburst, but we hadn’t finished our ice cream and had taken the trouble of walking their so we were in no hurry to leave. After the tense silence, he seemed to try to twist it into a joke because he seemed to realize that we weren’t leaving and then went to the backroom and never came out for the duration that we were there. I recall us being around 15 at the time. My cousin was visibly angry, but I was trying to hold back from laughing because in my strange 15-year old logic, I simply viewed racism as proof that I was intellectually superior and so I saw racists making outbursts as simply a confirmation of my superiority in some weird way that I thought made sense at the time due to all the propaganda in the US portraying racists as the dumbest of people in society. Needless to say, we never returned after that incident and after numerous other similar experiences in local run stores, I personally preferred corporate stores so I didn’t have to bother wish such annoyances when trying to make purchases or find something enjoyable to do with my time.
Nevertheless, even now (at least before the Coronavirus effectively made me jobless), I had befriended a Muslim acquaintance at work and even hung out with him at the local mall although we don’t really have much in common apart from interest in DC and Marvel franchises. Whenever we had discussions on religion, I was hesitant because the place I work has an official corporate policy on not speaking about any possible Trigger Warning subject matters with co-workers which was explained in a 21 minute video instructing employees to avoid certain topics of discussion. I eventually opened-up more after work hours when we were not at work, but I had felt wary throughout most of the time because of the trigger warning policy. When discussing religion, this co-worker had mentioned that he felt it odd that any religion could have more than one God and he didn’t understand how it made sense. A few weeks later, I decided to explain my own light criticism of monotheism by pointing out that the angels in Monotheism are basically demi-gods and Western scholars even compare them to Hindu Devis and Devas (Hindu Demi-goddesses and demi-gods) since they follow the instructions of higher deities just as the angels are bound to follow the One God without any freewill. My co-worker had commented that he had never thought of it that way before and further went on to mention that he understood – from what an atheist friend had told him – that there isn’t any proof of any God whatsoever so he had to keep that in mind while being a Muslim. He understood my point of comparison as well. He even self-identified as a nominal Muslim since he didn’t follow the religion strictly as he did when he was younger.
I’ve already gone into copious details regarding how I slowly lost confidence in Ex-Muslims of North America so retreading that ground seems pointless. I’ve only gained more evidence of their selective news coverage and contempt for Hindus as people since then. From my own anecdotal experience, I don’t see this hatred of Hindus from US Muslims judging from my own experience and for all the contempt that many Muslim Indians of India may have for Hindus, I’ve noticed even some Muslim Indians acknowledge the genocide of Hindus in Kashmir as a horrific wrong that needs to be corrected out of genuine empathy for Kashmiri Hindus. Quite frankly, Ex-MNA’s categorical refusal to acknowledge Hindu victims of Muslim violence with their selective coverage shows a lot more hatred for Hindus than what I’m seeing from Muslims in the US or India. I could be wrong about Muslims in India as I don’t have any surveys for this belief, I could even be wrong on my assessment of Muslims in the US since I’m only using anecdotal evidence, but what is clear to me is that Ex-Muslims of North America purposefully ignores the human rights of Hindus in India. They may acknowledge Hindu human rights in cases of Muslim militias slaughtering them in Myanmar, oppressing them in Bangladesh and Afghanistan, or using rape conversions on them in Pakistan, but Hindus of India specifically? Their human rights seem to be willfully ignored. How can Ex-MNA claim to support human rights but categorically ignore Hindus of India when they’re mistreated or even killed by Islamic mobs? Why is that they showcase Indian National Congress (INC) supporters being killed, but always omit BJP supporters being murdered in India? Even when given evidence on issues with their position of supporting the Indian National Congress party (such as my repeated sharing of a news article from a Liberal Indian news organization showing the Indian National Congress supported Sharia courts), they seem to ignore it. I know for a fact that they knew about this one because I had personally shared with Stephanie Tessier and she had commented about it in a phone call I had with her where she mentioned that she’d bring it up with others. Yet, nothing changed. They seemed to slow and then stop with the overt INC support, but seemed to willfully ignore the BJP’s support for Secular causes which was very odd for an organization claiming to support Secular values.
Their silence towards Hindus commenting made me skeptical of them and I began to doubt the truth of their claim that they were open to questioning their beliefs and willing to accept criticism. Their continued silence and categorical refusal to acknowledge Hindu human rights within India only made it worse. I held out hope because they were acknowledging Hindu human rights outside of India around its immediate borders. However, I did notice a disparity such as with Myanmar, the killings of an entire Hindu village by Rohingya Muslim militia had one article while the killings of Rohingya Muslims seemed to have endless news articles. As mentioned prior, I’ve already thoroughly explained what made me quit my financial and social support. When I saw their actual responses to Hindus, then what little respect I had for Ex-MNA was gone. Why? The reasons are twofold: it became unambiguously clear that they were never serious about questioning their beliefs and they were treating Hindus like Dhimmis. To be blunt, they were just using the pathetic excuse of angry internet comments to shut down all meaningful criticism that Hindus had of their views regarding the domestic politics of India. Ex-Muslims of North America were not serious about understanding the complexities or defending Secularism as they claimed; they were just feeding into the tribalism that they claimed to be opposing and confused their Western Left-Right politics with India’s Left-Right politics. Compared to US and even European politics, both the BJP and Indian National Congress party are Left-leaning Socialist parties; the difference being that the Indian National Congress supports religious laws superseding Constitutional laws and the BJP supports a Secular framework to remove religious personal laws to apply the laws equally to all citizens within India, but that’s a topic for another lens. Ex-Muslims of North America is purposefully treating Hindus as Dhimmis in order to ignore genuine criticisms. Even when confronted by the fact that they’re ignoring meaningful criticisms, they’ll comment on how “large” the negative comments are in order to further ignore commenting on the actual criticisms. Seriously, how hard is it to scroll down a comments section? A few seconds? Their arguments for why they’re not acknowledging genuine criticism is laughably, stupidly absurd and it is only proof that they were never serious about accepting criticism from Hindus and perhaps from others like Conservative Christians. Some readers may not like me saying this, but it is clear to me that they’re making the most asinine excuses to ignore criticism from Hindus and maybe others.
One aspect about Ex-MNA’s adamant whining about mean Hindus on Twitter is how utterly juvenile it is. From my own experience when debating Muslims online, especially Muslims from Pakistan, they conflate Hindu with Hindutva, they have no idea what Hindus believe or what Hndutva’s stated goals are, and then go on rants about rapes in India before attempting to seriously threaten me with the desire to rape and kill me. This has happened on Twitter, Facebook, and especially Discord throughout many debate forums. These people are completely serious (one must remember that Pakistan is the country that had to have its politicians removed from Facebook for sharing images of them raping political dissidents [usually male] for humor purposes as what the West has termed ‘revenge rape’ meant to convey the rape victim having been shamed). Yet, it was through keyboard and a computer screen with people across the Pacific Ocean or Atlantic Ocean in the case of those in the Middle East. There was no real threat and I’ve only ever voiced these complaints once to Ex-MNA, which they chose never to comment on when I tagged them and explained my own experiences as a Hindu Atheist debating Muslims from various Islamic countries. Apart from sharing that one tweet in an effort to show it wasn’t solely one-way (which they never acknowledged), I never once whined about any of these Muslim comments because I was smart enough to acknowledge that these Muslims throughout all these social media platforms didn’t represent all Muslims and certainly didn’t justify any behavior on my part which would dismiss criticism from other Muslims just because a large swathe of them on social media behaved deplorably. Honestly, the only reason I had even shared my experiences with Ex-MNA was in the hope of getting them to realize that it isn’t just a one-way streak of behavior, but all I got was silence in response. From my own observance of the responses they get on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve noticed plenty of intelligent counterarguments to their views by Hindus and yet they somehow always manage to fail to acknowledge them under the basis that they’re getting too many hate comments. Moreover, they collectively blame Hindus for these hate comments to dismiss criticism and that is an explicit form of Anti-Hindu bigotry. Even if I experienced overwhelming hate by Muslims across various social media platforms, that wouldn’t give me the right to argue that all Muslims behave like that. The scant few polite Muslims who I’ve debated and taken seriously when they provide criticisms shouldn’t be blamed for how the majority across social media behave themselves. Overall, I don’t understand why Ex-MNA can’t grow a spine over fucking internet comments. That is why I see this claim of the barrage of hateful Hindu comments as a dishonest argument from Ex-MNA in order to purposefully ignore criticism.
Most of the prominent Ex-Muslim Atheist activists of the West seem to push for Twitter campaigns to gain notoriety and increase the chances of their plight being heard, but I’ve begun to question this method. While it is important for Ex-Muslims escaping from despotic regimes, how useful is it to expend time and effort over issues of being blocked on Twitter and Facebook? They can end-up spending several weeks or a month on these issues, but do they truly matter? Consider the fact that both Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard hedged their bets on internet campaigns to gain notoriety throughout the US. The polling numbers have shown that these strategies have spectacularly failed. Neither Tulsi Gabbard’s Joe Rogan Podcasts or her interview with The Intercept had any measurable impact in polling; nor did Andrew Yang going across political isles in his social media campaigns with his interviews from people like Joe Rogan to Ben Shapiro (also, when writing this, I seriously forgot Ben Shapiro’s name and had to do a google search using his iconic catchphrase to remember it). Given that two candidates aiming for Presidency barely made any impact when placing so much stake on internet campaigns, what does this reveal about the utility of Ex-Muslim social media campaigns? They might honestly just be wasting their time with no meaningful difference in having their aims met – whatever those aims might be.
Here’s the last of the discussions I’ve had with Ex-Muslims of North America on Twitter (likely because they feared it could impact their public image) and I’ll just let the readers be the judge of them:
The person I mainly had conflict with and the main reason I will no longer support Ex-Muslims of North America (@ExMuslimsOrg is Ex-MNA’s twitter handle):
The conversation on Twitter:
And these “gems” from Sarah Haider conveniently ignoring the Hindus who were killed in the Delhi riots and shutting down criticism by arguing about the “sheer volume” as a way of ignoring criticism and then immediately going into xenophobic comments about India’s level of civil discourse:
Overall, my personal experience has led me to believe that they’re anti-National and not Pro-Secular, they don’t seem to understand that those aren’t the same goals that reach the same outcomes, and judging from my own experience with other Ex-Muslims like Harris Sultan, my more recent interview with Armin Navabi, and my assessment of Ex-MNA after being a bystander watching their organization for more than a year . . . I think Ex-MNA and most other Ex-Muslims associated with them only care about hearing themselves talk. If anyone disagrees with them, then they try to argue the other person is wrong because their views don’t align with how they hear themselves talk about themselves. Bots aren’t necessary, Ex-Muslims of North America’s dialogue isn’t on par with the intellectual traditions of India so they don’t even try to engage in honest discussions. Sadly, any compassion Hindus such as myself have for Ex-Muslims suffering under despotic regimes or even in democratic countries is met with suspicion and contempt; thus, there is no goodwill left to believe in. I don’t make that decision lightly, but I can’t honestly support an organization that treats anything Hindus say in their defense with derision and even less so an organization that isn’t acknowledging Hindu human rights. If there’s any Western Ex-Muslims part of this organization reading this, although I doubt it considering they only seem preoccupied with hearing themselves talk in an echo-chamber, you did it to yourselves.