As we were confined to our sickbed anyway last week, the Posse took the opportunity to catch up on our reading.
First up was Robert Spencer's excellent The Truth about Mohammed. A somewhat slender tome, we found it easy going despite (critics might say because of) the stupendous amounts of drugs that were coursing through our system.
People who haven't read Spencer may assume that he's a sensationalist hack trying to turn a quick buck off of controversy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Spencer is nothing if not methodical. He is at core a thorough research and this slender volume amply hammers home the point that Mohammad was not a very peaceful guy.
Indeed, unless you were one of his converts and a male, you wouldn't have a lot of nice things to say about him. His treatment of women was horrible and there was this amazing tendency for Allah to give him a special dispensation exactly when he was about to break a rule (amazing how self-proclaimed prophets get to do this).
This is an essential piece of reference for anyone who wants to serious debate Islam and its role in modern society. What is more, it does not abuse, denigrate or criticise (except in the mildest ways) its subject. (One such mild criticism is Spencer's noting that when one of Mohammed's wives is accused of impropriety, Mohammed needs a divine reveleation to come to her defense, rather than doing so reflexively at a matter of love or trust).
Our only complaint is that the book is too short. We would love to see a more extended examination of Mohammed's life and it is clear that Spencer knows a lot more than he is sharing.
One thing that is not in question is that Islam needs to make an honest reckoning with the West. When its apologists claim it is a "religion of peace" they need to be called out for the liars that they are. When we are told of Islam's tolerance, we need to reply by asking what the penalty is for leaving Islam (hint: you don't live to tell about it).
People should be free to differ and we favor freedom of religion. But honest debates require honesty.
More and more, the debate about Islam resembles that about gun control: you have a minority of self-appointed experts who lie unabashedly to get their point across and support their policy. Any encounters with facts are brushed aside or ignored - or the source of the truth is smeared as a bigot and/or racist.
Instead of "gun nuts," people who question Islam are "Islamophobes." Fine. Count us in. We think fearing a religion that has its own word for relgious war, whose very founder promised paradise to those that died in battle spreading it - we call that a bit scary.