Understandably, those troubled by the contemporary Muslim world point to the amount of gratuitous violence emanating from it and the apparent absence of Muslim anger against it.
In response, Muslim defenders of their faith -- and Western defenders such as Karen Armstrong and John Esposito -- inform us that the terror, suicide and cruelty that emanate from a portion of the Muslim world are all aberrations. We are assured that the average Muslim is as appalled as all other decent people are by Muslims who torture, decapitate and blow up innocent people.
Some recent news items from Britain, Australia and the United States, however, suggest that we can make a more accurate assessment of contemporary Islam by looking beyond Islamic terror and beyond the lack of Muslim opposition to it.
I am referring to news reports not about Muslim terrorists but about the far more mundane group of religious Muslims who happen to be taxi drivers. In Britain and Australia, Muslim taxi drivers refuse to pick up passengers who have a dog with them -- even when the passenger is blind and the dog is a Seeing Eye dog. Nearly all religious Muslims believe that Islam forbids them to come into contact with dogs. Therefore, Muslim taxi drivers will even drive by a blind person standing in the cold, lest they come into contact with the dog.
And in Minneapolis, Minn., Muslim taxi drivers, who make up a significant percentage of taxi drivers in that city, refuse to pick up passengers who have a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage with them.
This is significant. We are not talking here about Muslim fanatics or Muslim terrorists, but about decent every day Muslims. And what these practices reveal is something virtually unknown in Judeo-Christian societies -- the imposing of one's religious practices on others.
Now, many of those with a graduate degree in the humanities, and others taught how not to think clearly, will object that religious Christians do exactly this sort of thing when they try to impose their religious views on abortion, for example, on society.
But there is no analogy between a Muslim not allowing a non-Muslim to bring a bottle of wine or a dog into a Muslim-driven taxi and Christians trying to convince a democratic society to outlaw most abortions.