The propaganda at the Islam Comic Book and the Ameristan website is disturbing. The comic is particularly scary because much of what it says is true: the author picks out the weirdest stuff in the Qur’an and the hadith that he can find and airs out that dirty laundry for everyone to see. Because the stuff is actually in there—anyone can look it up—it lends a very real credibility to the idea that Muhammad was a freak and that all Muslims must therefore be crazy to follow him.
Some instructors in religious studies might be inclined to ignore this sort of propaganda as beneath consideration, but I think that is the wrong approach. I think we should draw attention to it as often as possible and laugh at it until our students won’t be able to take it seriously.
We should remind our students, 1) that all religious traditions have skeletons in their closets (like when Lot serves as a model for hospitality in the ancient Jewish tradition by offering up his daughters for rape), and 2) these skeletons do not typically inform contemporary practice, any more than the three-fifths rule in the original American constitution informs today’s supreme court decisions. Then we should read the famous open letter to Dr. Laura that circulated the internat a few years ago.
For rhetorical effect, the letter is best read aloud.