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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

9.18.2006

The Religion of "Peace"---The Peace of the Grave

Is anybody suprised that radical Muslims have met the Pope's muted criticism of their violent history with still more violence?

Cap'n Ed hopes the Pope stands firm:

If Islam is ever to peacefully co-exist with other faiths in the manner that Christendom finally learned how to do, then it has to start abiding questions and criticisms without resorting to violence. Islam has to learn to persuade and to attract people through reason, not through forced conversions and coexistence through violent supremacy. Muslim leaders around the world still believe that our faith can only exist at their sufferance, and any question of their doctrinal beliefs has to be met with violence or demands for apologies, not with rhetoric, facts, and reason.

We cannot enable that to continue. We must demand that they renounce violence and intimidation. When you apologize and retreat, they understand that as a triumph for their religion, a victory won with force and threats rather than through intellectual engagement. This encourages more of the same. The West had the opportunity to stand up to the same angry hordes earlier this year during the controversy over the Danish editorial cartoons that depicted Mohammed, and many of us gave into the threats and violence rather than stand up for the freedom of speech, religious practice, and editorial commentary. In both cases, Muslims ironically proved the point of the criticism leveled at them.

Do not apologize for speaking the truth. Stand up to the threats and violence and make the world understand that no one of any faith or of no faith at all has to be cowed or intimidated into silence. Your predecessor, John Paul the Great, risked his life by providing a beacon of courage against the might and will of Communism, and he outlived it in the end. We won't outlive the violent nature of radical Islam, but we can provide the basis for Christianity's survival by standing against it now.


As do I. The Church has ever stood as a beacon of truth against barbarous evil; it must do so now.

Thomas F. Madden is worth quoting at length:

The pope resurrected Manuel II in order to make a point. He noted that the learned Manuel was well aware that the Koran states that “There is no compulsion in religion.” But he also knew, as someone who had been on the business end of jihad himself, that the Koran also speaks of holy war. With “startling brusqueness,” the pope continued, Manuel tackled this seeming contradiction by saying “’Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’ The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable.”

The pope’s purpose in citing this passage is made clear almost immediately. “The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor [of Manuel’s dialogue], Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” Now here is where it gets a little complicated. (I said that it was a scholarly lecture.) Benedict asks the question, “Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?” He concludes that the Greek concept of reason, bound together with Christianity, fundamentally shaped, even gave birth to Europe. He then describes a process which he calls “dehellenization” in which Europeans from the Late Middle Ages onward have chipped away the fusion of faith and reason, placing them in completely separate spheres. This separation is the main focus of the lecture. It is, in fact, not about Islam at all. Benedict is calling a crusade, but it is one against a Christianity stripped of reason and a science stripped of transcendent truths. “In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith. Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today.”

This is a tough lecture to boil down to one sentence, but if forced I would characterize it as: Theology belongs in the university because only by studying faith with reason will we find solutions to the problems of our time. However, if instead of reading the lecture we simply cut out everything except the words of Manuel II Palaeologus written six centuries ago, then we have a good justification for Pakistan’s parliament to unanimously condemn the pope. If we further pretend that it was Benedict, rather than a long-dead emperor, who expressed these sentiments we have a sound basis for the Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon to demand “a personal apology — not through his officials — to Muslims for this false reading (of Islam).” Or we can rage with Syria’s top Sunni Muslim religious authority, Sheik Ahmad Badereddine Hassoun, who replied to the pope, “We have heard about your extremism and hate for Arabs and Muslims. Now that you have dropped the mask from your face we see its ugliness and extremist nature.”


Pot to kettle: You're black.

In this case, the Catholic Church has one heck of a lot less to answer for than Islam, which has been bathed in the blood of non-Muslims since its inception. Those ignorant of history (and public-school-educated Americans largely belong in this category) condemn the Church for the Crusades while ignoring the centuries of bloody barbarous aggression that spread Islam to the Pyrennees. As ever, Christians are to be faulted for having the unmitigated gall to fight back.

I'm still waiting for the imams to apologize for centuries of enslaving Christians, which included kidnapping them from their homes in Europe. We fought a war against the slavers; look up the Barbary pirates for the ignominious tale. Meanwhile, I'll keep waiting for that apology. No, take your time---I've got centuries left.

I've got company, anway. Doug Bandow's waiting for his apology too:

Imagine. The Pope notes the historical truth that Mohammed expanded his influence through the sword and Muslims are upset. Pakistanis marched in protest, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood demanded an apology, and Morocco withdrew its ambassador to the Vatican. Even Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, thought of as a moderate, complained that Pope Benedict's comments were "ugly and unfortunate" and should be withdrawn.

Naturally, several Christian churches were attacked in the West Bank in protest. It brings to mind the endless caterwauling in Islamic countries over the publication in Europe of cartoons that placed the prophet Mohammed in, shall we say, an unfavorable light. (One drawing depicted him wearing a bomb, for instance.) Apologies were demanded from governments that -- in contrast to the dictatorships that rule most Islamic peoples -- do not control what their people print and say.

Let's stipulate for the sake of argument that the Pope's comments were unfair and that the cartoons were offensive. But no more unfair and offensive than the treatment of Christian images in Western nations in the 21st century. And, even more important, no more unfair and offensive than the treatment of Christians and Christian images in Muslim nations.

Indeed, most of the nations hosting vociferous mobs and demagogic politicians supposedly aggrieved by the West's blasphemous attacks on the prophet and his religion do more than just suppress any public display of Christianity; these countries actively persecute or acquiesce in the persecution of Christian believers.

In some nations the oppression is overt: try to worship publicly in Saudi Arabia, for instance. Try to share your faith in Iran. Try to hold a Christmas service in Iraq. In many other nations persecution is private but systemic, allowed if not encouraged by the authorities.

As I travel the globe, I keep looking for evidence that Islam is the religion of peace and Judaism and Christianity are using violence to advance their faiths. Strangely, I have yet to discover Christian converts filling a truck with dynamite and destroying a mosque. Or congregants at a Jewish temple torching a Muslim madrassah. I'm looking for cases of Mormons hijacking a plane to crash into downtown Islamabad, Hare Krishnas kidnapping and beheading Muslim aid workers, and Bahais taking over a cruise ship and tossing overboard a handicapped, elderly Muslim.

I'm still waiting.


As am I.

Christopher Orlet looks into the future:

To judge from the reaction of our Muslim brothers, you would think Pope Benedict XVI had called for a new crusade to the Holy Land. In fact, all he did at a Sept. 12 speech at the University of Regensburg was quote a sentence from an obscure Byzantine-Roman emperor's dispute with an anonymous Persian scholar on the subject of holy war: "Show me just what Mohammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Truth, as we all know, is no defense before Sharia law, particularly against the charge of insensitivity and blasphemy. Therefore Pope Benedict, in his two (and counting) apologies, had no choice but to plead guilty and accept his punishment like a man who will think twice before he again comments on jihad, suicide bombings, terrorism or any other rite of radical Islam.

Doubtless in the days to come there will be hundreds of commentators condemning the Pope for his insensitivity toward Muslims and for stoking the flames of hatred and resentment between the Islamic community and, well, the rest of the world. Just as there will be countless pundits and bloggers applauding the Pope for finally speaking out on the subject of jihad, and for -- in their view -- firing the first official shot in the clash of religions and civilizations.

Likewise there will be those who wish the Pope had gone further. Count me among them. Rather than relying on some emperor of seven centuries past, I wish Benedict had said that holy war was an oxymoron like "tax return." I wish he'd reminded Muslims that this is the 21st, not the 7th century, that the Age of Reason began three centuries ago, and that the days of vilifying Jews and seeking their extermination should be ended.

Commentators will also seek to explain the Pope's purpose in the obscure 14th-century reference. The Pope and his crack team of theologians and scholars must have known that the quotation would raise the ire of Muslims and perhaps spark riots similar to the Danish Khartoon massacre. The Pope must have known that he'd be moved to the top of every jihadist hit list. Some of Benedict's defenders, like German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, suggest he was hoping to start a dialogue based on reason, an attribute that, the Pope acknowledges, is in short supply in Islamic countries. I sincerely hope the Vatican knew better than that. Trying to have a dialogue with Muslims -- particularly over an issue of doctrine like jihad -- is like trying to dialogue with a dog once he sees a cat. For many Muslims, their idea of dialog is, "Apologize, you infidel swine-eater! The Koran is right, you are wrong. Period."


At some point, one must wonder if Islam isn't the problem. That is, if one cares about Western civilization surviving. I've got Muslim prayer rugs purchased in Turkey; I can toss you one when the mullahs arrive to ease us into the gentle practices of Islamic law. I suspect you'll find them a bit less flexible than the Ninth Circuit.

We are in a religious war whether we like it or not. We didn't choose it. But like our Byzantine ancestors, it has come regardless. We can pretend that our enemy consists of a handful of whack jobs, but they're getting money, weapons, and shelter from too many people for them all to be crazy. We can pretend that there's a silent majority in the Muslim world rooting for us. We can even pretend that that nice quiet chap down the road who sings prayers so beautifully five times daily and gives us a cheery "good morning" each day isn't plotting to cut our heads off for not worshipping as he does. Such fantasies are a luxury in peacetime, suicide in war.

There must come a reckoning.

Muslims who reject the murderous creed of the extremists should stand with us in the defense of our homeland. Those who do not, those who aid and abet our enemies, must be treated as enemies. That is what the President meant by "you're either with us or against us." There is no in-between. There can't be.

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