A good deal of seemingly judicious anti-Islamic opinion is little more than bigotry dressed up as secular high-mindedness of one sort or another.
One should be aware however that there is a certain kind of secular outlook that maintains itself by feeding off the more traditional, ‘primitive’ sort of religious devotion.
It’s as if there were essentially two ways to be an unbeliever: the more self-contained or introverted way, and the more outward-facing way, that constantly plays off other people’s metaphysical wrong-headedness.
Islam — along with good ol’ gun-totin’, evolution-denying Pentacostalism in the US — has made itself available as the perfect foil for this sort of sparring just as the traditional religious outlook in western Europe has disintegrated into untold wishy-washy kinds of near-agnosticism that the more earnest kind of atheist finds it hard to get his or her teeth into.
I’m not sure that there are many purely self-contained unbelievers out there. I strive to be one myself, but it’s undoubtedly hard not to feel just a bit provoked by the resurgent irrationalism and militant ignorance out there in the ether today.
On the other hand, it is all too easy to postpone the contemplation of the deeper, darker implications of a godless universe by instead spending one’s time blaspheming against multiple faith traditions.
It should possibly come as no surprise that Europe’s most visibly secular nations — France, Denmark etc. — have become the channels of Europe’s most overtly xenophobic currents.
What is getting lost in all this is the comprehension that the ‘ignorance’ of someone who is already at multiple disadvantages including relative poverty and discrimination is frankly an embarrassingly soft target, and that rational unbelievers have something of a duty to prioritise going after the sort of dumbness for which there is hardly any excuse.