I can't say I am in favor of Islam as a religion. I tend to think religion is silly. But people are people and need to be treated as equals in the public square irregardless of their religion. Although I think Islam deserves plenty of criticism for the way moderates all but condone religious violence through their silence I draw the line at xenophobia, it amounts to painting with far too broad a brush.

"Why hasn't anyone got any guts? They've got terrorists amongst 'em... They want to be here so they can go and hide in all the farm houses... This town has every nationality... but Muslims do not fit in this town. We are Aussies, OK."

This is a quote from a public meeting in the City of Camden, New South Wales. A Muslim group has bought land and proposed to build an Islamic school. It sounds like they picked the wrong town as Camden has twice managed to keep McDonald's from building there (Now that is a noble cause, stick to that!)

This is one area that I think the US is doing better on than the rest of the world. I realize that Muslims are often heavily discriminated against, but there is little of this openly hostile xenophobic bile being spewed in the states. We've had enough history of race and religious conflict that we at least seem to get along at a low simmer. Not so for Europe or Australia where it seems that Europe is finally having to come to grips with the social realities of globalization.

It does make me sad that people equate all Muslims with terrorists and all Muslim schools with radical madrassas. The Muslim side isn't all in the right either though. They need to do a much better job vocally opposing extremists and allowing modern elements to come out against the medieval Sharia system.

Overall I wish people would grow up, realize that if they shed the false hope of their tired old book and actually talked in a real way with their neighbors they would be able to work things out. Unfortunately I think the biggest fault of religion is it's ability to set groups apart from one another while simultaneously igniting animosity. After all, if you are right about GOD then the other guy is wrong. If the other guy is wrong you can't be around him without risking your eternal reward. At the same time you cannot abide blasphemy, thus sparking tension against the 'other' you so desperately want to avoid.

Ironically both Islam and Christianity speak of treating the 'heathen' with respect. Of course they both sprinkle in a good share of 'kill the heathen' verses as well, which creates a catch-22 which helps to keep intolerance simmering just below the surface and gives radicals just enough ammunition to remain a problem.

This duplicitous hypocrisy is the fundamental problem with religion for me. The minutia of metaphysics is all bluster and basically meaningless. It is the certainty of truth mixed with blatant hypocrisy that really matters in the world. Unfortunately for Muslims in Camden the basic problem of religion is biting them back and neither side understands the deeper problem behind the vitriol.