On the November 14, 2017 episode of his show, Alex Jones got a little bit too clear about his feelings about Islam. While he generally tries to walk a very fine line where he attempts to not look like a bigot while still giving not so subtle signals to the bigots in his audience that he knows they're right about what's what.
Typically, when he wants to saber-rattle about Islam, his tactics involve arguments that boil down to "people keep committing these acts of terrorism, so we can't keep taking risks." This is a flimsy argument, but it is rock solid compared to Alex's rhetoric on the 14th.
He begins by laying out his premise, playing the role of the bullying older sibling who's been caught in the act by their long-suffering mother and the only defense for his clear-to-everyone bullying, we all know it well: "he started it." That's right. Alex Jones gave the world a "the Muslims started it."
[In advance, please forgive my use of the term "the Muslims" when discussing various groups of Islamic faith in the region, at that time in history. I recognize that there were many different groups from Turks to Moors, to many others and I don't mean to sound insensitive or stupid; I am just playing on the court that Alex has invited us to.]
As a theme, when he wants to get into the clashing between Christian and Muslim, Alex Jones frequently name-checks the Crusades. He gives a couple vague details about them, and his audience assumes he's a scholar.
In this case, though, he seems to be talking about the period of Islamic expansion that occurred between 622 AD- about 750 AD, beginning with the time of Mohammed and carrying on after his leadership. There are a couple of important things that need to be pointed out about Alex being mad about this, some 1260 years later:
- This is not The Crusades. Those came a couple hundred years later and are absolutely not a cut and dry case of "one side is out of line, the other corrects it." What Alex is describing as "you Muslims started it" is very common behavior of empires back then (and much later in history than we would like). He never makes these same protestations about Rome or Greece, or Alexander the Great, which I'm guessing is a coincidence.
- He can't even make the argument that the Muslims did things any more barbarically than other people around that time. Tales of wartime atrocities connect all cultures, from the Mongols to the Hellenic peoples. All these groups murdered and pillaged, they all raped and took women as "war plunder" (shit, this is the main reason there's a plot in The Iliad), and they all enslaved the vanquished. The period up to 750 or so that Alex is clearly describing was a period where the Muslims were behaving like pretty much every other group in the area.
- The Muslims did not get to the southern edge of France. France was not a united entity at that point in history and wouldn't be for a while. It was formerly Gaul, but at that point, when the Muslims were expanding, France had the vaguest idea of a cultural identity, but was politically a group of disconnected Germanic tribes. Alex is presenting this as a situation where the Muslims couldn't get past that great white France, but that just doesn't reflect what France was at the time. It wouldn't be until about 20 years later that Charlemagne would ascend to be King of the Franks, and about 30 years after that when he has unified most of the area we now know as France. What I'm saying is that France didn't really exist for the Muslims to be stopped by.
- Also, while we're on the subject, Germany didn't exist in any meaningful way until the aftermath of Napoleon in 1814. There were many tribes that were Germanic, there were states that ultimately you would consider Germanic in origin (Prussia, Austria, e.g.), but Germany was not confederated until way after all this bullshit he's talking about.
As if all of that muddied history to justify bigotry isn't enough, Alex Jones has the nerve to get back on mic as he's going out to commercial to really make it clear that he hates Islam with a passion and thinks that the 700's are on the march again, and it's up to him and his rag-tag gang of "patriots" to save Christendom.
It never ceases to amaze me how cowardly Alex can be when trying to make a point. He wants his audience to think that these negative things he's describing apply to all of Islam. That's why he screams and repeats "Islam Is That;" he is trying to drive the message into his hypnotized listeners' heads. In order that he not be held accountable, however, if one of his listeners does follow his logic to its natural conclusion and hurt a Muslim, Alex covers his bases and pretends that all he's talking about is the "Orthodox Wahabbist form" of Islam, which is a branch of Islam that is routinely criticized by moderate Sunni and Shia Muslims alike, and has been waning in influence for decades. Alex is pretending he's scared of this terrorist idea, when what he's really scared of is people of diverse backgrounds not having to feel othered in society.
This clip is really bad for any number of reasons, one of the biggest being that an inescapable piece of this rhetoric is calling for violence against people because of their religion/race. At the end of the clip, Alex is saying that the Muslims got stopped at the border of France (again, didn't exist back then), and the border of Sweden (more on that in a second), and that they will get stopped again. When you employ elementary misunderstandings of a bloody history of religious wars, and then say that one side is going to be stopped again, how else should someone take that than to hear, "eventually, we will need to literally kill Muslims?"
It's painfully irresponsible.
So, back to Sweden. Interestingly enough, looking through Sweden's history, you don't see any time when the Crusades or any Arab invasion was stopped at the border of Sweden. In fact, the only real involvement the Swedes had with the Crusades was to be on the losing end of a battle with the Novgorod Republic, who were Eastern Orthodox Christians who inhabited some areas that would now be Russia and Finland.
No hoards of Muslims that were stopped on the border of Sweden to be found. But what you can find, and I find this so amazing, is that you can absolutely find evidence that Swedes going back as far as the 7th century had some cultural and economic contact with Islamic countries, based on archaeological finds. It appears that they had non-hostile relations dating pretty far back, so Alex's entire premise really just falls apart.
Now, beyond that, Islam does not love pedophilia and slavery, as many times as Alex does like to repeat those things. You can find pedophiles and enslavers within any group, and it is up to you how you would like to imagine how identical the individual and the collective is.
Alex says that there are seven Muslim countries in the world where slavery is legal, and to that, I argue "so what?" But, since I know we need a better argument than that, here is why that is irrelevant:
- According to information reported by the Walk Free Foundation, ALMOST 9 TIMES THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE ARE ENSLAVED IN INDIA THAN IN THE HIGHEST RANKING MUSLIM COUNTRY (Pakistan). India is approximately 14% Muslim as a population, and 80% Hindu. India's enslaved population is larger than the next nine countries put together.
- There are 1.3 million more enslaved people in China than in the highest ranking Muslim country (Pakistan).
- We have a private, for-profit prison system in our own country that allows us to continue to reap the benefits of slavery, while pretending that's not what we're doing. Our current system is so immoral, it is largely indistinguishable from the days of convict leasing. We should be ashamed that we allow for-profit prisons to exist and steal the lives and labor of so many wrongly convicted, or over-severly sentenced, people out there. We have 2.4 million people incarcerated in this country, and many of them are forced to work for very negligible pay (or none). If you go ahead and consider all of them enslaved, the United States has a slave population that is .3 million higher than the highest ranking Muslim country (Pakistan).
What I'm getting at is that slavery is a very real, and very serious problem in our world today. However, it is not a problem that is specific, or even more pronounced in the Muslim world. These sorts of attempts to paint the issue that way, what they end up accomplishing is not helping bring about the end of slavery world-wide; all they do is give dumb listeners fake reasons to hate strangers.
So, to summarize, because I think this is getting way too long: Alex Jones does not know history or statistics, and he is using very dangerous violent rhetoric to present a worldview steeped in an us vs. them mentality regarding religion. He is playing with fire, and knowing how unwilling his audience is to correct him or research his claims, these are the sort of messages that could really get some people hurt. We hope that is not where this ends up.
And, just a quick point to end this post. The only people who want this sort of rhetoric out in the world, and the only people who truly benefit from it, are the very small population of zealot terrorists in the world who use religion as their marketing strategy.
Reasonable Christians don't want a Holy War. Reasonable Muslims don't want a Holy War. Atheists don't want a Holy War. Really, the only people who do seem to be Alex Jones and ISIS.