After Paris Attack, Salon Publishes Piece Critical of ‘Religion’


Salon published an article titled “We must stop deferring to religion: Laughable absurdities must be laughed at.” The piece, which directly connects the murders in Paris Wednesday to Islam, is a departure for a magazine which has spent nearly a decade beating a drum against Christian theocracy in America even as it attacks critics of Islam as Islamophobes.

The piece, by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Tayler, argues Islam has become the nameless extremism which must be named.

On and on the politicians’ avowals of support go.  Yet one word is absent from all the grave, aggrieved verbiage.  Surely their audiences will supply the missing noun, the prima facie yet material motive for the otherwise puzzling “exceptional barbarity,” the hitherto inexplicable “horrific shooting,” the nameless “extremism” – Islam.  Attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar!” don’t leave room for doubt.

Of course the author doesn’t quite stick to his guns on this point and eventually retreats into a more generalized criticism of religion in general. He writes, “Faced with this uncomfortable but persistently deadly reality, what should we and our politicians (and pundits) do?  For starters, we need to cease granting religion – and not just Islam – an exemption from criticism.”

This is somewhat laughable given the degree to which religion–at least one religion: Christianity–has been the subject of criticism at Salon for years. Just six months ago Salon published a piece with the subhead “Christian right’s plan is simple: Dominate courts, state legislatures, and push their twisted morality on all of us.” Substitute Islam for “Christian right” in that sentence and someone at Salon would be denouncing it as Islamophobic. Here’s a sample of the tone of the piece:

Should the Christian Right help the GOP retake the Senate, the Piper will need to be repaid. This prospect should terrify every secular, liberal American to his bootstraps. The Hobby Lobby case is yet another reminder that those who wish to transform America’s secular democracy into a tyrannical theocracy are on the march.

Are you terrified of the coming Christian theocracy? Perhaps you’ll be less worried when you learn that Salon has been flogging this particular boogeyman for almost a decade. Even as it routinely accuses critics of Islam, like the atheist Richard Dawkins, of Islamophobia, Salon has been warning us about nascent Christian fascism. In 2006, Salon’s Michelle Goldberg wrote a book titled Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. Salon helped her sell the book by publishing a lengthy excerpt. In 2011 Salon returned to the creeping menace of Dominionism as a way to attack GOP candidates Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann. This is the sight, after all, that even accused the horror film The Conjuring of being a “right-wing Christian film” by which the author meant that it was “deeply reactionary” and “profoundly misogynistic.”

The site has taken a very different approach when the subject was Islam. Even yesterday, the site seemed more focused on attacking purported purveyors of Islamophobia than engaging radical Islam. Here’s a piece attacking Richard Dawkins for connecting the murders to Islam (note the update which completely undercuts the headline) and here’s one criticizing Laura Ingraham for much the same reason.

So, yes, it is about time Salon admitted there is a problem with a religion other than Christianity. And if the author of the piece seems slightly hesitant to single out Islam, one of the people he quotes in the story is not as reluctant. Inna Shevchenko, the leader of the topless protest movement Femen in France, says of the murdered cartoonists, “They do not deserve to have the reason for their deaths suppressed. They were killed for Islam … in the name of Islam.”