At first glimpse, it may seem that Mark Steyn and PZ Myers have very little in common.
Mark Steyn is a cultural critic who routinely provokes Human Rights complaints and general outrage from the left side of the political spectrum.
PZ Myers is a tenured biology professor and devout atheist who routinely provokes outrage from the right side of the political spectrum with his tirades against religion.
Myers and Steyn couldn't seem more different. But as it turns out, these two individuals have more in common than the fact that they've attracted a similarly single-minded collection of zealous followers.
As it turns out, each man has a very similar attitude toward Islam.
Mark Steyn's stance on Islam has long been well known. He's an advocate of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations theory. He's even gone so far as to argue that western civilization needs to significantly bump up its fertility rate in order to prevent being supplanted by Islam.
In other words, Steyn portrays Islam as a menacing, dangerous threat to the so-called "civilized" world. He's been hauled before the Canadian Human Rights Commission for saying this.
Meanwhile, in a post at PZ Myers' blog, Pharyngula, Myers relates the story of Muzzammil Hassan, an individual who established a television station with the goal of refuting stereotypes about Islam. Instead, Muzzamill wound up murdering and decapitating his wife when she demanded a divorce.
Myers, who's never encountered a slander against religion he didn't immediately fall in love with, reaches an interesting conclusion: "it's not a stereotype, but simply a fact that Islam is a patriarchal religion of misogyny."
It's amazing that Myers, a darling of those on the left wing who want to firmly entrench atheism as a fundamental part of the progressive political movement, could walk away from such comments unscathed. Yet the progressive left that would so gleefully denounce Mark Steyn for expressing the same sentiment has remained predictably quiet in regards to the matter.
One has to imagine that it doesn't matter much that both men are approaching their argument from assumptions that are fundamentally flawed.
Separate portions of Benazir Bhutto's Reconciliation could be used to refute either man.
Bhutto's explanations of how the Koran actually mandates fair treatment of women and grants them political and civil rights would prove to be a significant challenge to Myers' sentiments. (Also, the fact that Mohammad's first wife was the first Muslim is a detail that seems to escape Islamophobes.)
Bhutto's dismantling of the clash of civilizations thesis in the closing chapter of teh book would confront Steyn with the reality that freedom and democracy, not the end of Islam, is most likely to erase any threat posed to the Western world by the Muslim world. If she were still alive today, Bhutto would remind Steyn that Western countries haven't often been good allies to Muslim democrats.
Sadly, Bhutto isn't alive to counter the fear mongering language of either man, having been martyred in the name of bringing democracy to Pakistan.
But it's amazing how much these two have in common when it regards Islam -- and equally amazing that Myers is being allowed a free pass for his Islamophobia.