Racism Runs Through the Arteries and Veins of the United States

It appears that my 6-year-old son, Zayn, doesn’t think Muslims are American. When my ex-wife recently talked to him about his being Muslim, he responded: “I’m not Muslim! I’m American!” Zayn, by the way, goes to a school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the vast majority of students are Muslim.

What does it mean for a precocious 6-year-old to say he isn’t Muslim, that he’s American? What does it mean for a Republican presidential candidate — for candidates — to say that Muslims are not or cannot (really) be American?


Of course people have been raising weary — and worried — eyebrows regarding Donald Trump’s comments about the need to create Muslim databases, and his suggestions along the lines of internment camps.

What has been less discussed is the manner in which Trump — a billionaire businessman who knows full well the importance of giving his customers what they want — is not inventing these anti-Muslim sentiments. He is, in a very real sense, reflecting the sentiments and aspirations of his droves of supporters. And these same sentiments are being catered to with varying degrees of emphases by other Republican hopefuls.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric — and bigotry — wins elections. This is being tried and increasingly successfully tested in Europe. The far right in Britain, France, Denmark, Belgium are winning significant electoral victories in local and national elections.

It’s not surprising — or coincidental — that anti-Muslim sentiments are being openly expressed by U.S. presidential hopefuls at the same time that we’re witnessing some of the worst acts of police brutality against Black people since the 1960s.

Police shoot and kill blacks almost twice as frequently as any other racial group. … “Black people were about four times as likely to die in custody or while being arrested than whites.” …

The militarization of local police has been growing ever since the Pentagon and U.S. Department of Justice decided to give away surplus weaponry from Iraq and Afghanistan. The heaviest weaponry is often used by SWAT teams during drug raids, where … communities of color are targeted for nighttime raids. They face few consequences for making mistakes, such as maiming or killing people and pets and ransacking homes and personal property. These same teams were deployed in Ferguson to confront protesters after [Michael] Brown’s killing in August [of 2014], exacerbating violence instead of quelling it.

These are the days of Black Lives Matter. These are the days of Ferguson. These are the days of Trayvon Martin. These are the days of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. These are the days of countless Black men and Black boys, Black women and Black girls who are unnamed and unrecognized as they are dehumanized and brutalized.

Screenshot 2016-02-05 11.17.18

It’s not a simple quirk of fate that massive structures of institutionalized racism — whether against Blacks or other minorities — are being exposed (it’s come to the fore, for example, that the NYPD sets arrest quotas for minority police officers against their own minority communities). It’s not a simple quirk of fate that all these facts form the backdrop against which anti-Muslim rhetoric is becoming manifest.

It’s not a simple quirk of fate because: Racism runs through the veins and arteries of the United States.

Racism runs through the veins and arteries of a United States that bears within its collective unconscious the blood of 10 million of Native Americans.

Racism runs through the veins and arteries of a United States that was built on the broken backs, in the ravaged wombs, through the blood, toil, sweat and tears of 250 years of slaves and slavery.

Racism runs through the veins and arteries of a United States that interred over 100,000 Japanese Americans during WWII, that discriminated against Italians, against the Irish, against the Jews.

At the same time, racism is part and parcel of the Western intellectual tradition. And this, I realize, is a somewhat radical statement on my part.

Racism — the idea that a certain group of people or peoples is or are inherently different from, and inferior to, the dominant group — was central to the colonizing missions of Europe, of which the United States is heir.

The Christian doctrine — let us recall — “Thou shalt not kill” was altered to “Thou shalt not kill a Christian” to justify the “civilizing” missions carried out around the world. Of course Christian missionaries were central to those colonizing missions: whether in Africa, the Middle East, or the so-called New World — as if to say that that part of the world didn’t have a prior existence until European settlers came to those shores.

The popular philosophical problem of whether a tree makes a sound when it falls if no one is there to hear it perhaps should be re-formulated to “Does a falling tree make a sound if a European is not there to hear it?”; since, of course, these lands were inhabited and lived in and named, and their trees — on occasion — felled, by “indigenous” people.

Which, incidentally, is another problematic term, just as “native,” given the colonial construction of “natives” and the “indigenous” as being different from those of us going over there from Europe.

You need only consider the fact that Europeans are not referred to as “indigenous” or “natives” to gain a better sense of the “Othering” that happens through the process of naming and referring to Brown and Black people as “indigenous” and “natives.”

Language is always embedded in and re-creates structures of power. Similarly, white Americans are — in everyday conception — constructed as “American,” and not as having immigrant roots — regardless of how many or how few generations may have been living here. Whereas the same is not true for non-white Americans. The idea of where one is really from always gets applied to people of color.

For example: I have a fairly recognizable British accent. And yet, the number of times I’m asked by well meaning white Americans where I’m from is telling. (Incidentally, I don’t usually face the same type of questioning from non-white Americans.)

Another illustration: When my former wife and I were in Morocco studying Arabic a few years ago, we were traveling with some people from our Arabic program — students who were mostly from the U.S. and a few from the U.K. One student, who was a Brit, and white, was talking to my wife rather excitedly because another male student from Scotland had just joined the program. My wife pointed out: “Hasan’s British.” To which the other student replied, quite innocently: “Not really,” and then immediately realized what she had said because she looked embarrassed.

Historic European colonizing missions and civilizing missions have simply been renamed as democratizing missions by the U.S., as it promotes — and has been doing so for many decades — its own brand of rule, which, in effect amounts to rule that meets the needs of U.S. imperialism. In fact, as Noam Chomsky argues in his book Deterring Democracy, the U.S. has very little interest in promoting “democracies” that do not serve its interests. This has been shown time and time again.

But all this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. And I claimed earlier that racism is part and parcel of the Western intellectual tradition. It could be contended that all I’ve been describing is part of politics and the logic of nations and, of course, capitalism.

It is my argument that the Western intellectual tradition is fundamentally rooted in the idea of “Othering,” of creating difference, of degrees and levels of preference and subjugation.

Screenshot 2016-02-05 11.24.45

Let’s consider the history of this largely binarized approach to the world — the “Us” vs. “Them” worldview. It is rooted in the modern approach to knowledge and to the self. The modern self is derived in a significant way from the father of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), and his notion of cogito ergo sum. When Descartes declared “I think, therefore I am,” which followed from his radical skepticism, he declared his own self as the source of all knowledge.

This was in complete contrast to a premodern understanding of the self as being rooted in God as “the ground of Being.” In premodern knowledge systems, there was a fundamental inseparability of that which is known, the knower and knowledge. Descartes marked the modern break of the object (that which is observed) from the subject (the person who observes), and the birth of the modern self. According to philosopher Martin Heidegger, “at the heart of [Western] modernity is the rise of an absolute subjectivity, such that the world appears to man as if it were ‘for’ him […] as picture.”

When I think about looking out the window of a moving train, for example, and look at the trees passing by, I see a two-dimensional image of a tree, followed by another, and then another. At no point do I experience the three-dimensional “reality” of the tree as such, whose three-dimensionality my mind fills in, as philosopher Matthew B. Crawford points out in his book The World Beyond Your Head.

But, we must remember that each age, and the styles of thinking of that age, are defined by certain parameters of thought. When we speak of the world as picture — even if we may not consciously do so — we are immersed in a particular worldview, simply by living. We’re drawing on a view of the world as a movie. How often have you had the experience — I know I certainly have, probably because I’m a bit of a film geek — where you look at a series of events and think “That would make a great scene in a movie”?

The premodern view of the world was one where the world existed objectively and separate from our perceiving it, as a thought in the mind of God, as a Theophany, as a reflection upon the veil of Maya.

It is a fundamental epistemological need of the West to have an “Other” that is radically different from and separate to it. It is in light of these things that it needs to be understood why Islam and Muslims are being seen as fundamentally “Other” in the West.

The “Othering” of Islam and Muslims has been a long process throughout Western history, about which Edward Said famously wrote in his epochal Orientalism. This is not to say that other people and ideologies have not been “Othered,” but it seems that Islam and Muslims constitute the most obstinate of “Others.”

Islam — within this particularly Western imaginaire — is emblematic of religion as such — a “religion” that the West is supposed to have overcome. Islam has come to signify all that the West has supposedly consigned to the trash heap of history.

At the same time, Islam has come to also serve as the catchall for the deep sense of dis-ease that we all feel with the world, from the far-reaching corruption of corporations and their long-time bedfellows, the politicians. And who is to blame for an environment that is on the verge of complete collapse? Who will be taken to task for the raping and pillaging of a Mother Nature that can no longer bear such burdens? Not us. Anyone but ourselves.

So, what does it mean for Republican candidates to say that Muslims are not and cannot (really) be American?

It means that Muslims constitute the currently most convenient scapegoat for so many ills of the world — when, if we are truly honest, everyone in the U.S., and in the West in general, has to at the very least accept a degree of responsibility.

  • Most Viewed This Week on TIM

  • Latest comments on TIM

  • About the autor
    Hasan Azad

    Hasan Azad is a doctoral candidate specialising in Islamic Studies at Columbia University. @1hasanAzad

    Latest at tim

    See our Current issue

    Join our Newsletter

    Enter your e-mail address below to receive periodic updates from The Islamic Monthly.

  • Follow us on

    • Luz Bridgewater

      Nicely written article…rarely seen these days…..Well done sir!

    • Ajax

      This article reads like an SPLC press release. It is absolutely fanatical in its hatred of Westerners and Western civilization. Assuming there’s any point to this at all. I’m going to deal with these claims one by one, although in my experience people who write stuff like this are not amenable to rational discourse or claims based on evidence.

      The West is Racist: The fact is that Westerners are probably the least racist people in the world. Overall, Europeans exhibit a relatively weak attachment to national tribalisms, a strong tendency to overturn their own traditions, a strong tendency to value freedom and individualism and a strong tendency towards meritocracy. These are traits which have been instrumental in making Europe a successful civilization. Foreigners are quite readily accepted—-unless said foreigners exhibit hostile tendencies, in which case, well, this creates tension and all sorts of problems. On the whole, Europeans have created high-trust societies, with constitutional government and relatively low levels of corruption, while much of the rest of the world has remained tribalistic in the way its societies are structured. This is why, precisely, much of the third world is flocking to Western countries. If we’re such racists, why do these people want to come here?

      Anti-Muslim bigotry wins elections: As far as I know, no far right parties have been elected anywhere in Europe. Even in Hungary, Victor Orban’s party is about as conservative as it gets. Last year Orban had Richard Spencer, who runs the far-right NPI in Wasington, arrested. For the most part, anti-immigrant parties and demonstrations are suppressed by governments. Just recently Marine Le Pen, whose policies would have been considered normal sixty years ago, was arrested and charged with hate speech propagation.

      “Black Lives Matter”: This is not an era in which blacks are being arbitrarily attacked and brutalised. You can look up U.S. justice Dept. Statistics that show that blacks are disproportionately involved in crime, and this is the reason they get more attention from police. They also tend to resist arrest. The whole Michael Brown thing was a fiasco and just blown up by the media to make it look as if Brown was innocent. The media constantly does this. The same goes for the other examples. Per capita, blacks commit much more crime than whites. This is just a fact. General crime rates are lower amongst whites, and phenomena like white on black rape are virtually nonexistent.

      “Racism runs through the veins and arteries of the United States”: This is itself a racist statement. You are saying that White people are racist by nature. How do you know this? Do you have a genetic study identifying White American genetic patterns as selected for greater ethnocentrism by natural selection?

      Japanese internment: the Japanese were detained temporarily in camps because of their potential role in espionage. This is the kind of thing that is fairly normal in wartime. As Cicero said, the one thing a society cannot withstand is treason from within.

      Italians: Americans denigrated the Italian community because of its connection with organized crime. Organized crime and conspiratorial activity generally is a serious detriment to basic law and order.

      The Irish: I am of Irish extraction myself, but a certain antipathy towards the Irish on the part of 19th Americans is understandable. The Irish were Catholic. The Average American was Protestant—-and derived from a very idiosyncratic form of revolutionary Protestantism at that—-17th century Puritanism. The founding mythology of the U.S. is Whig trade liberalism and “anti-popery”. This isn’t racism; it’s that the average WASPish American saw a Catholic subsistence farmer as a backward throwback, and an obstacle to “progress.”

      Us and Them: This is largely a Semitic invention, not a European one. Before being Christianised, Europeans were polytheistic pagans, who simply didn’t look at the world in such cut and dried terms. A tendency to look at the world in terms of absolute good and evil has it’s origins in the Abrahamic mentality, to which even a quick perusal of the OT will testify. Everybody, according to the OT is evil except the Hebrews—-the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Amalekites, the Babylonians, everyone on and on. Christianity also overlaid a Zoroastrian dualist component which reinforced this, but again this was not European.

      The reason we get so much of this “us and them” stuff today is not because Europeans are racist but because Hollywood projects this mentality outward, and Hollywodd is run by people of Semitic origins. So also this fantasy about an “American Dream” which is entirely a fabrication of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The “us and them” stuff serves them pretty well, because they then get white males to go fight wars for them in the Middle East in the interest of Israeli security, and then blame the wars on them when they get back home.

      “Indigenous” Europeans are indigenous—-to Europe. People don’t say this because they just assume it.

      Everyone knows that white Americans are not indigenous to America. “Natives” are not either: they came from east Asia about 12,000 years ago.

      Slavery: One of the largest slave-trading territories was the Ottoman Empire. Slaves have existed and been traded in all the Muslim territories since the beginning. In fact societies all over the world have had slave-based economies. It is not unusual. Muslims used go on raids all up the coast of western Europe and plunder villages for slaves. Where do you think the women ended up?

      Descartes: I am about as un-Cartesian a person as you are ever likely get, but I have to say that Descartes cogito is simply a thought-experiment, not an ideology. It is a method for gaining certain knowledge about abstract philosophical problems, although it doesn’t really work too well. It is not a product of or endorsement of egotism in the moral sense. If you think this you are reading too much into it. The Cartesian legacy is certainly dubious philosophically, but it has nothing to do with racism or politics. Descartes’ main achievement is in mathematics. Cartesian physics was mostly a failure, as was Aristotle’s.

      The World as Movie: This is your problem—-you watch too many movies. You are therefore very confused. You seem to be saying that Descartes introduced a radical subjectivity into philosophy, which makes us see the world as a movie, because real trees don’t get into our consciousness. I don’t really know what to say to this, other than that you should go back and read a dead white male like Aristotle if you want to understand what Heidegger is actually talking about. Heidegger’s philosop[hy might be takes as one long elaboration on the Aristotlelian dictum he psyche ta onta pos esti panta.

      The “Other”: Tribalism is simply a long-standing biologically-based group behaviour that helped people survive at certain points in our ancient past. You can see obvious pack behaviour in wolves or birds, and nobody calls it racism. What I would suggest is that you stop getting your view of the world from Hollywood movies and mainstream news media. The people who run these things want to balkanize the country along ethnic lines because it gives them more control on the divide and conquer principle. So they say things to weaken the white majority and turn other groups against us. But the fact is that in most countires there is normal hegemony of interest and influence that simply arises from the ethnic majority. Most political candidates in Norway are Norwegian becuase the population is Norwegian, not because they’re racist. The same thing is true of Pakistan or Japan or anywhere else. To all societies there are people who are “Other.” Islam divides the world between believers and infidels. Jews divide the world between themselves and Gentiles. Far east Asians are known for very high levels of ethnocentrism generally.

      Islam: I don’t think anyone blames Islam for environmental collapse or anything else other than terrorist activity and a certain degree of fanaticism among certain proponents. Most people know that even this is a partly a result of Western foreign policies and feel responsible for it. And no one with any knowledge of history can ignore how much of a role people like Avicenna, Al-Farabi, Averroes, etc. played in the course of the Medieval university and subsequent Western scholarship. People don’t read Avicenna but they don’t read Thomas Aquinas much either. We reject Islam as a social system and a political model because we rejected theocracy centuries ago.

      All cultures are expansive at different points in their history. This is a normal thing. The second largest emipire in the world after the Brititsh Empire was the Mongol emipre of the Middle Ages. Forgive me, but these people were not white. Islam itself is an expansionist religion, and at various points has and continues to expand through violence. so if you’ll pardon the figure of speech, stop calling the kettle black.

      • Raffey

        Mr. Ajax! Your rant is so “other” oriented I am positively stunned. Rather than addressing subjects in their own right, you compare everything you touch. If you could not compare yourself to others, you would vanish.

        Dig deep sir, for this essay merely sees what you cannot. You are your own person, with or without the success or failures of others.

        • Ajax

          I do address them more or less one by one, about which you haven’t said one word. All you do is label me “other-oriented.” I’m fully aware of what the original article is and says. It is anti-White hate propaganda.

          • Raffey

            Mr. Ajax, Iet us back up a bit and give you your due. Judging from your rant, your intellect seems to be in good working order. You have made a good effort to educate yourself and learn about various issues. I commend you for addressing so many different points, one by one.

            Now, let me apologize. I knew from your rant that you were a binary thinker, so I manipulated you into exposing your limitations and you replied in the most predictable of ways. First, you labeled this essay “anti-White hate propaganda”, then you insulted me and finally you cursed at me.

            This essay is discussing “Binarized” thinking, which means the way in which people process information, not the information itself. Instead of discussing the subject, you discussed the information. In fact, you did not say a single word about the subject. But that is the problem with binary thinkers of the West, they cannot understand there are other ways of thinking.

            In Western education, people used to debate the question; should we be teaching children “HOW to think, or WHAT to think. The question was resolved by teaching binary thinking only, and none of the 6 other forms of critical thinking. It was also decided to teach by rote alone, and ignore all other forms of teaching by which children learn. You sir, are an example of the results of those decisions. You were taught “binary-thinking” and you were taught by rote. While you memorize the facts, you can only think about those facts in one way. As a result, when people challenge your thinking, you mistakenly believe we are challenging your facts. That simply is not true, but you cannot separate facts from thinking because you only learned to think one way. Let me explain how you think.

            When your mind processes information, experience and observations everything goes through the same channel that separates it into good or bad, right or wrong, black or white etc. and so on. When your brain sends something to the good pile, it creates a negative reinforcement as well. When your brain sends something to the white pile, it creates a black reinforcement as well. Hence everything stored in your mind has both a positive and negative side to it. As a result of the way your brain was taught to sort information you cannot make distinctions in any other way. To you, there is good, white and right and there is bad, black and wrong. You cannot conceive of black being good, white being bad, right being wrong, or wrong being right. It is always, for you, one or the other. If white is good, then you think black must be bad. To you, right is always right and wrong is always wrong. The discomfort – anger – a you are feeling as you read my reply is the result of binary thinking.

            If I recall correctly, there are 7-critical thinking skills and 6 ways to learn. Let me give you an example. A man from the Middle East says stealing is the worst crime a man can commit. I tell the nice man from the Middle East that I always thought murder was the worst crime and ask the nice man to elaborate on his thinking. The nice man from the Middle East explains that stealing a son, a father and a husband from a family is the worst form of stealing he can imagine. You see, Ajax, the nice man from the Middle East and I thought differently about the subject, but we were in complete agreement on the facts.

            Let me give you another example. A nice man from a different part of the Middle East has several wives. I tell him I prefer Western culture’s insistence on just one wife. The nice man from the Middle East tells me he could never abandon his first, second or third wife to marry another. Unlike Western men who divorce their wives and leave them to raise their children alone, he keeps all of his wives and all of their children in his home where he can care for them. He would never disgrace his wives or himself by divorcing them. In his part of the world, marriage truly is “until death we do part”. Once again, two people think differently about a subject, but agree on the underlying goodness and decency.

            Ajax, you carry on quite a bit about Jews running Hollywood. As a result of the way you think, this is a bad thing. Your binary thinking process makes it difficult for you to understand a culture that teaches many forms of critical thinking in their homes, societies, schools and synagogues is the reason so many Jews have such extra-ordinary accomplishments in science, math, economics, finance, literature, theatre, education and more. People with different thinking skills will always out-think people with just one thinking skill.

            Now, are you ready to discuss thinking, or do you just want to keep throwing facts around?

            • Ajax

              To put it in a nutshelll, what the author is dressing up with all this pretentious critical theory verbiage is just the fact that he’s aggravated by having to call himself a Muslim OR an American. Well, that’s an easily explicable thing. It is becuse Muslims for the most part don’t assimilate. They identify as Muslims. They come from places like the Middle East or Iran or Pakistan, so they don’t identify with the majority culture in America. Their religion is very important to them. They also haven’t been here that long.

              I myself am Canadian, my ancestors have been in Canada for 200 years, and nobody calls us American, although we’re in America and are Americans. Most Canadians consider their primary identity as deriving from the constitutional order than from the geographical location so nobody cares. I live amongst French Quebecers and they don’t call themselves American or Canadian, but Quebecois. I’m an angloplone, so If I went into a tavern in the East end of Montreal and started calling myself Quebecois (a blood and soil kind of term) I’d end up in the hospital. And this is despite the fact that my great-great-great-great grandfather came here in 1815. This has nothing to do with “Western” ways of processing information.

              The rest of what you say is nonsense, and really doesn’t deserve a response. I realize now that you are probably a young person so what I would recommend is that you get off the Frankfurt school stuff and read some real books on philosophy or history or science—-anything but critical theory. Derrida et al really are nothing but a big rabbit hole. If you do this you may eventually be able to distinguish thought from political propaganda and mindless verbiage.

            • Raffey

              Let me see if I can work this out. First you tell me Muslims do not assimilate, then you tell me that your family has lived in French speaking Quebec for 200 years and yet, you still have not assimilated by learning French? If your view of assimilation does not mean learning the language, what else could you mean?

              We must not ignore the little dart you threw in about Derrida and the Frankfort School in this post with your previous post regarding Jewish control of Hollywood films. Clearly you do not approve of Jews or Muslims. But wait, French Canada is largely Roman Catholic. In fact, Roman Catholics are the largest Christian denomination in all of Canada. But you are not a Roman Catholic are you? But wait, you condemned monotheism, so I’m betting you are an Athiest. If you are not an Atheist, you are definitely an Evangelical Christian or a Fundamentalist Christian.

              Why Ajax, you really do have a problem. More than a thousand years before your family arrived in Canada, Catholics had conquered the Americas and spread their religion on both continents and your family did not assimilate into the culture into which they moved. As a result you feel like an “outsider” in the only country you have ever known. Ajax, take your own advice and assimilate; learn French and convert to Roman Catholic.

              Or, you can take a lesson from the nations leading the world today. For example, in Singapore the vast majority of people speak at least two languages, with the majority passable or fluent in three or more languages. Singaporeans are also at the very tippy the top in educational attainment in the entire world (America is an embarrassing 28th and dropping fast). Having lived in Singapore, I can also tell you that most people are also, well-versed in the different religions practiced in their country. In fact, Singapore was the only place I’ve known where people of different faiths attended services together. We gathered under a large arbor on top of a mountain with a stunning view of the ocean and waited to learn if a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, an Agnostic or an Athiest etc. would be leading services that day.

              As a result of a culturally educated population, assimilation is easier in Singapore than anywhere else in the world. Singaporeans do not experience the racial, religious, language or country of native origin problems we experience in the West.

              As America moves ever closer to a minority-majority population, I have high hopes we too, will lay the problems the grow from bigotry and racism to rest. I hope you are able to make some peace with your situation as an outsider in your country as well. Have you considered moving to an English speaking part of Canada where you would fit it at the local bar?

            • Ajax

              You’re an idiot.

            • Raffey


            • Good heavens, what arrogance! My first estimate is that the probability you have correctly identified Ajax’s mental processes is less than 10% — and the probability that you comprehend the essence of critical thinking is even less.

            • Raffey

              Mr. McConnell –If you want to vent your emotions, please go to websites where other people want to share and discuss their emotions with you as well.

              This is not the place to vent your emotions. If you disagree with me, please tell us what kind of critical thinking skills Ajax has applied to the subject?

              Do you agree with everything Ajax wrote? Is there anything he wrote that you disagree with? Do you disagree with everything I wrote? Do you agree with anything that I wrote?

              Again, I remind you that people care about your thinking here, not your feelings.

            • ‘Mr. Ajax! Your rant is so “other” oriented I am positively stunned.”

              “If you want to vent your emotions, please go to websites where other people want to share and discuss their emotions with you as well.”


              “ If you could not compare yourself to others, you would vanish.”

              “This is not the place to vent your emotions.”


              “Do you disagree with everything I wrote? Do you agree with anything that I wrote?’

              “My first estimate is that the probability you have correctly identified Ajax’s mental processes is less than 10% — and the probability that you comprehend the essence of critical thinking is even less.”


              “Again, I remind you that people care about your thinking here, not your feelings.”

              In your case, however, I doubt if many people are interested in “your thinking”. If there’s a chance you’d like to learn a little about critical thinking, then I’d suggest that you read the following chapters I wrote at http://www.zenofzero.net : Ia through Ii, R, S, T1, T2, and X16 through X19. I could add something similar to “then, get back to me”, but if you did that, it would only serve to demonstrate that you still don’t have a clue about the essence of critical thinking.

            • Raffey

              Mr. McConnell, you are an extra-ordinarily fine writer. You express yourself very well. Your granddaughter is a lucky girl. You say you want to make your work better and welcome comments. Well, here is mine. Your writing is so good your few and minor errors stand out like sore thumbs. This is not a stumbling block in the work of lesser writers, but it is in yours. Self-publishing tends to tempt people into skimping on the editor step.

              Of course, I have just skimmed a few pages of your book. Your odd directions on what you thought I should read were quickly explained by your TOC. Your attitude towards me was explained by your need to establish your authority with degrees and titles you have earned from others. Perhaps, this is the way you test your readers, to sort the informed from the ignorant. If so, have fun. I doubt you can see anything but perfection in your granddaughter, regardless of her ability to understand your work or her willingness to adopt your point of view as her own.

              You say you are seeking to give your granddaughter answers to the same questions as those who believe in G-d seek to give her. While the G-d believers turn to biblical texts for answers you offer her your own. Just like every other human being, you cannot prove or disprove any answer, not even your own. All your citations of Socrates and poets and philosophers and thinkers in history cannot help prove or disprove your unprovable beliefs. Your granddaughter hears her father speak of G-d and she hears you offer another point of view. Like you and like her father, she must answer the unanswerable with beliefs.

              Your attitude and emotional responses to me, suggest you have been deeply hurt in your life. Experience suggests your children was no picnic. If so, it is hard to build a life on such a hard foundation. Many people seek to cushion themselves against human hardness with G-d. Others seek to harden themselves even further. My uncle was a scientist who did work on the space program helped put man on the moon. He often gave us kids science lectures and nothing captured me more completely, than his certainty that someday, scientists would discover G-d.

            • I started my original “reply” to you (see above) with “Good heavens, what arrogance!” In your latest reply, you display it again: “Your attitude towards me was explained by your need to establish your authorities with degrees and titles you have earned from others.” Do you have difficulty expressing your thoughts in words? Is English not your native language? Or do you really have the gall to assume, from a single, minor encounter, that you have the competence to offer a useful psychological analysis of me that “explains” my motives?!

              You add additional, blatantly arrogant analysis: “Your attitude and emotional responses to me, suggest you have been deeply hurt in your life. Experience suggests your childhood was no picnic.” Have you considered other possible “explanations” for my “attitude”? What about the possibility that I simply agree with Socrates, “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance” [or I think better: there is only one good, willingness to learn, and one evil, refusal] and that when I see such ignorance as you have displayed, I attempt to curtail resulting evil, in hopes of benefitting humanity.

              And for all possibilities, what is the probability that each is true? Do you disagree with my stated assessment that a valid Ph.D. is a “Professional Humility Degree”? Have you learned to apply anything that you claimed to have learned about critical thinking? Do you know nothing about evaluating probabilities based on evidence? I assume not, based on your statement, “Just like every other human being, you cannot prove or disprove any answer, not even your own”, because thereby, you display you understand neither the difference between closed- vs. open-system truths (see Chapter T1) nor (see Chapters Ih and T2) the essence of the scientific method (viz., Bayes’ method).

              With respect to your comments about my “beliefs” have you considered the thoughts of others? Here are some examples (from Chapter Ih) that you could profit from considering:

              • Believe nothing… merely because you have been told it… or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide. [The Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), c.500 BCE]

              • The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see. [Huang Po (a Zen master who died in about 850)]

              • A wise [person]… proportions his belief to the evidence. [David Hume]

              • To believe without evidence and demonstration is an act of ignorance and folly. [Volney]

              • In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing. [Mark Twain]

              • The house of delusions is cheap to build but drafty to live in. [A.E. Housman]

              • For ages, a deadly conflict has been waged between a few brave men and women of thought and genius upon the one side, and the great ignorant religious mass on the other. This is the war between Science and Faith. The few have appealed to reason, to honor, to law, to freedom, to the known, and to happiness here in this world. The many have appealed to prejudice, to fear, to miracle, to slavery, to the unknown, and to misery hereafter. The few have said “Think” [or, I would have preferred if he had written, “Evaluate”]; the many have said “Believe!” [Robert Ingersoll]

              • Faith [is] belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. [Ambrose Bierce]

              • It is wrong always and everywhere for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence. [William Kingdon Clifford]

              • The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin… The foundation of morality is to… give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge. [Thomas Henry Huxley]

              • Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. [Aldous Huxley]

              • We should be agnostic about those things for which there is no evidence. We should not hold beliefs merely because they gratify our desires for afterlife, immortality, heaven, hell, etc. [Julian Huxley]

              • What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires – desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way… So long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues. [Bertrand Russell]

              • Credulity is belief in slight evidence, with no evidence, or against evidence. [Tyron Edwards]

              • In spite of all the yearnings of men, no one can produce a single fact or reason to support the belief in God and in personal immortality. [Clarence Darrow]

              • Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence. [Richard Dawkins]

              • I am an atheist because there is no evidence for the existence of God. That should be all that needs to be said about it: no evidence, no belief. [Dan Barker]

              • We ought to do what we can towards eradicating the evil habit of believing without regard to evidence. [Richard Robinson]

              • Don’t believe anything. Regard things on a scale of probabilities. The things that seem most absurd, put under “Low Probability”, and the things that seem most plausible, you put under “High Probability”. Never believe anything. Once you believe anything, you stop thinking about it. The more things you believe, the less mental activity. If you believe something, and have an opinion on every subject, then your brain activity stops entirely, which is clinically considered a sign of death, nowadays in medical practice. So, put things on a scale or probability and never believe or disbelieve anything entirely. [Robert A. Wilson]

              With respect to your uncle’s “certainty that someday, scientist would discover G-d” and your claim that your uncle was a scientist “who did work on the space program and helped put man on the moon”, do you appreciate 1) the difference between a technician (even one of outstanding competence) and a scientist (who must hold all convictions no more strongly than relevant evidence warrants), and 2) the horrors perpetrated by those holding convictions more strongly than evidence warranted? In that regard, here are some more thoughts for your possible benefit:

              • The importance of the strength of our conviction is only to provide a proportionately strong incentive to find out if the hypothesis will stand up to critical examination. [Peter B. Medawar]

              • Believe nothing with more conviction than the evidence warrants. [Arthur M. Jackson]

              • Conviction is something you need in order to act… But your action needs to be proportional to the depth of evidence that underlies your conviction. [Paul O’Neill]

              • A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions… Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. [Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)]

              • To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing. To be on the alert is to live, to be lulled into security is to die… A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it. [Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)]

              • Martyrdom has always been a proof of the intensity, never of the correctness of a belief. [Arthur Schnitzler (1882–1931)]

              • Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not quite clear to him. [Paul Eldridge (1888–1982)]

              • Men love their ideas more than their lives. And the more preposterous the idea, the more eager they are to die for it. And to kill for it. [Edward Abbey (1927–1989)]

              • The final delusion is the belief that one has lost all delusions. [Maurice Chapelain (b.1906)]

              As my final attempt to assist you, I strongly encourage you to never again say, “Gottcha”; doing so grossly offends a long line of admirable Jews, of course including Hillel, Spinoza, Freud, Emma Goldman, Einstein, Emma Noether, Maslow… But I do thank you for your suggestion about how to improve my book. I agree that “self-publishing tends to tempt people into skimping on the editor step.” For me it’s just that, being retired and on a fixed income, I can’t afford to hire an editor. I therefore just do the best I can.

            • Raffey

              Wow. Since I do not believe you did not go to all that trouble to try and assist me, I wonder what made you write all that stuff? Obviously, these are the kinds of things you think about a lot. But what motivates you to push your thoughts onto other people. My goodness, if I attempted to dissect all that you write, I would have no time for anyone but you.

              You cite great thinkers as though you believe you are their equal or the citations alone validate you. Perhaps you are their equal, but so what? That is the sort of thing others must decide, not you. Yet you think well enough of your own thinking to write it all down. You call it a book, and that is fine. But so far, it reads more like a man who feels misunderstood, perhaps under-valued and wants people to remember him as a great thinker.

              You say you are writing it for your Dear granddaughter (a sixteen year old girl). But I do not believe you. Has your granddaughter read it. If so, I would like to read her responses.

              I agree gotcha was a dumb thing to write. But what does “gotcha” have to do with Jews? Are you baiting me on that premise, or inferring I am genetically, socially, religiously, or intellectually inferior in some way or what? Really, what does gotcha have to do with Jews?

              Inasmuch as this is the Islamic Monthly, why didn’t you make attributions to those from Islam who have made such extra-ordinary contributions to your own thinking? Surely, you know that your profession is based on scientific contributions made by Muslims. Whatever would you have done without zero or algebra?

              With all due respect, your credibility is rather low. Stop telling people what you think and who you think you are in the world and put your name on your book, identify yourself, put in some links so we can read all those scientific papers you say you wrote, tell us who employed you and in what capacity.

              As far as my dear uncle goes, he was responsible for engineering materials beginning on the Apollo program. Man could not go to the moon and get back to earth until my uncle created the materials that could endure that kind of travel. Demeaning the accomplishments of another scientists does not make you better in any way. In fact, it exposes you as a very small man.

    • Guy Tintintininbaum

      I always think it is hypocritical when Muslims discuss racism against Muslims but ignore people using the words like Abeed and Muslim racism. Where was the Muslim outcry at the ethnic cleansing in Libya? Oh, ya, it doesn’t hurt until it hurts you. If you want to solve racism you should start by calling it out in the Muslim community. No one cares when a hypocrite calls wolf.

    • Ajax