When I started Being Libertarian-Canada, my anti-Trudeau memes attracted the alt-right to the page. On various posts regarding Canada’s role in the Middle East, immigration, refugees, there was a recurring theme: many of these alt-righters hated Muslims.
In response to their comments, I always ask if they know any Muslims and the answer is always a variant on “Why would I want to get to know them?”
It was extremely infuriating as at the time I started the page I was dating a Muslim.
On the other side, I’ve often heard leftists say that Islam is a beautiful religion and talk about how Muslims are such wonderful people. Given the tyranny in Islamic countries, it’s difficult to take these suggestions seriously.
I believe a skewed sampling is responsible for these statements, in both cases.
My alt-right friends tend to not know any Muslims. They’re typically in rural areas or live lives that don’t come into contact with many immigrants. Their knowledge of Islam comes from the media, which is generally not favourable to the Islamic world.
People who have worked next to Muslims, gotten to know them, have seen their generosity, typically don’t hold hostility toward Islam. We’ve met Muslims, we’ve shared their frustrations, triumphs, their ambitions, and we see a lot in common. So there isn’t antecedent hatred.
Conversely, the Muslims we know aren’t a representative sample. It’s an odd thing to hear a woman speak highly of Islam when it would be Hell for her to live in Mecca. Saudi Arabia and its Islamic opponent Iran are not favourable places for champions of leftist causes – environmentalism, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The reason why many of the Muslims we know aren’t representative samples is that both we and Muslims themselves decide who comes into the countries.
There are three cases of people entering countries: legal immigration, illegal immigration, and refugees. In Canada, the number of legal immigrants compared to illegal immigrants and refugees is at least ten times higher. Thus, if we do come into contact with Muslims or their children the chances are high we’ve specifically chosen them to come into the country. They score extremely highly on university entrance exams, they’ve impressed employers while they’re here, and they haven’t committed any crimes.
Moreover, xenophobic Muslims typically don’t want to come to live in the West. Not only have we selected Muslims to live here, but they themselves are also choosing if they want to come. Problematic Muslims aren’t coming here anyway.
Why would anyone say Muslims are good people when it’s clearly not necessarily true? It’s because nearly all of the Muslims they’ve met are highly intelligent, good, productive members of society. And the ubiquity of goodness is precisely the conclusion one would expect that they draw.
People on the right typically live in rural communities where immigrants seldom settle. People on the left have typically only met highly intelligent Muslims. Phenomenologically, this is why people draw the conclusions they do. People think thoughts based on what they know.
In steps libertarianism. We ought not to judge classes of people, but rather individuals. We don’t do class analysis that says things like ‘Islam is bad’, or ‘white people are bad’ — we simply look at individuals themselves. Do they have the capacity to make ethical life decisions? If the answer is yes, we like these people. Class analysis has no part of libertarianism.
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