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Thomas Paine
Deism versus Islam

Islam and Violent Trends

Don Feder February 15, 2003

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to say a few words to you - Nigeria, the Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Armenia, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Chechnya, Russia, the Kashmir, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

What do they all have in common? In each country or province, there is an ongoing struggle involving Moslems and non-Moslems. Samuel Huntington, author of "The Clash of Civilizations," tells us that out of 22 active conflicts in the world today, 20 involve Moslems and someone else - Moslems and Christians, Moslems and Jews, Moslems and Catholics, Moslems and Orthodox, Moslems and Hindus.

This phenomenon might be explained in one of three ways:

Possibility #1 - For some bizarre and inexplicable reason, no one else can get along with Moslems, and so we all are driven to make war on and persecute them. By the way, many Moslems - who have an active persecution complex, notwithstanding that they are the ones usually doing the persecuting - firmly believe this.

Possibility #2 - These jihads, terrorist wars, religious persecutions and instances of ethnic cleansing all are the work of Moslem militants, extremists, fundamentalists, fanatics who have somehow, again inexplicably, gotten it all backward and transformed a religion of peace into a religion that looks remarkably like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. I'll let you in on a secret: World War II wasn't the work of Nazis and Japanese militarists, but of Nazi militants and fundamentalist Japanese militarists.

Possibility #3 - In fact, Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a religion which, throughout its 1,400-year history, has lent itself well to fanaticism, terrorism, mass murder, oppression and conversion by the sword.

Long before the age of political correctness and multicultural indoctrination, Winston Churchill, that keen observer, described Islam as, "that religion which above all others, was founded and propagated by the sword - the tenets and principles of which are incentives to slaughter and which in three continents had produced fighting breeds of men (and) stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism."

It's so obvious that it hardly bears repetition. You don't have Orthodox rabbis hijacking airplanes in response to Jews for Jesus. Jesuits don't shoot up Baptist seminaries to protest the Reformation. Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints don't tell you they'll cut your throat if you don't accept the prophetship of Joseph Smith and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Buddhists don't put out contracts on those who offend them. Hindus don't call members of other religions, dogs, pigs and the sons of apes.

And still our leaders desperately insist that Islam is a religion of peace. As the body count mounts, and the atrocities become more outrageous, the pronouncements become more bizarre. Islam is a religion of peace.

No, wait, it's not just a religion of peace, it's also a religion of tolerance, charity and compassion. Jihad isn't holy war. Why no indeed, it's a spiritual struggle, an effort to overcome bad habits, a Tony Robbins-style self-improvement program. Said the White Queen to Alice: "When I was young, I practiced believing three impossible things before breakfast. Now, I can believe anything." At times it seems like the White Queen is advising the White House on Islam.

This morning, you've had lectures about Islam by some distinguished experts. I am neither - distinguished nor an expert. But I spent 20 years of my life as a journalist observing the affairs of men and nations. I believe in common sense, in arriving at conclusions based on the evidence at hand, and in logic. And when I encounter something as absurd as the establishment's pronouncements on Islam, I want to know why?

Why do our leaders insist on telling us these soothing lies? And why does a credulous public readily believe them? Basically, there are three reasons for these delusions about Islam:

Reason #1: Pragmatism. Arab Moslems have the oil - energy resources on which the West, thanks to environmentalists, is heavily dependent. Further, a number of Moslem states are ostensibly allied with us - Egypt and Saudi Arabia most prominent among them. Our leaders have decided that to tell the truth about Islam would offend our Moslem friends and suppliers - the guys we supposedly need to help us control the extremists and keep the pumps operating. By the way, relying on Saudi Arabia to control Moslem "extremists" is like expecting Tony Soprano to fight organized crime.

Reason #2: The American tradition of tolerance. Religious tolerance was one of America's founding principles. It was enunciated by George Washington, in his message to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. From America's inception, we had no religious test for public office. There was no established church. There was no official persecution of religious minorities. Compared to the Old World, the New World was blessedly free of sectarian strife.

And, lo, it was good. America grew up without an official church, but with thriving religious communities. In the 1950s, when I was growing up, it was an article of faith that religion is a social good. It didn't much matter which faith an individual professed - whether little Johnny took communion, or wore a skull cap, or lit candles and burned incense - as long as he believed in a God who required moral conduct, that was enough.

In this frame of reference, candor about Islam seems like vile bigotry, the type of religious intolerance that goes against the American ethos. The problem is, today's situation is unique. America has never experienced a phenomenon like Islam before. The closest we came to it was in our encounters with fascism and communism in the 20th century - ideologies that were, I hasten to add, quasi-religious in character.

How does one tolerate the intolerant? How does one accommodate a creed that elevates homicide to a religious obligation, which - in the name of its faith - is killing Christians, Jews and Hindus the world over - a religion which, given the opportunity, would remake America in the image of Saudi Arabia or Iran?

Reason #3: Fear. If Islam isn't a religion of peace, what are the implications for the West and others in a world with almost a billion Moslems - a world where Islamic states have powerful armies, ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist auxiliaries and millions who are willing to die - and kill - for the glory of Allah and his prophet?

What are the implications for Europe, with its burgeoning Moslem populations? What does it mean for the United States, whose Moslem population could reach 10 million by the end of this decade? What does it mean for the West, where a new mosque opens twice a week?

It's simply more comforting to tell soothing lies than to confront unpleasant truths. The West has become very adept at this. Consider the lies appeasers told about Nazism in the 1930s. (When Hitler first came to power, commentator Walter Lippman hailed him as a sincere nationalist. After Munich, Neville Chamberlain said the Fuehrer was a man he could do business with.) During the Cold War, liberals closed their eyes to the reality of communist brutality and imperialism. Today, our elite - the media and academia, Democrats and Republicans - are doing the same with Islam. Call it old appeasement in a new bottle.

Regrettably, avoiding reality doesn't change reality. In and of themselves, words do not alter that nature of things. We can tell ourselves until we're blue in the face that Islam is kinder and gentler - a Methodist service, but in Arabic, with prayer rugs and sans shoes - and terrorists will still be trying to kill us in the name of their god.

In the Third World, the Islamic advance will continue to creep down the West and East Coasts of Africa, into the Balkans, the Indian subcontinent and East Asia. Islamic immigration to the First World will continue to challenge Judeo-Christian civilization. And millions the world over will continue to believe that they have a divine mandate to conquer us, to rule us and - if we resist - to kill us.

What should our response to Islam be? That's the subject for another speech. However, in closing, let me repeat something I said a moment ago - because it bears repetition - hiding from the truth doesn't change it.

In the 20th century, Western man became expert at make-believe - one reason for the decline of the West. After the Second World War, we told ourselves that the danger was over. The United Nations would make war obsolete. (Today, the UN is trying to make deterrence obsolete.) After the Cold War, we supposedly had reached the end of history. Still, history rolled merrily along. In many ways, the world a more dangerous place today.

When your head is firmly in the sand, another part of your anatomy is fully exposed.

The author is a former Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist. He recently began a daily talk show on WROL radio (950AM) in Boston. This article is a reprint of a speech presented at a symposium in Washington, D.C. on "Islam: Muslims & The Judeo-Christian World - Where to From Here?".

The symposium was sponsered by the Christian Coalition of America. Other speakers included Joseph Farah, Daniel Pipes, Bill Koenig and Labib Mikhail.

Excerpts from Will Durant's The Age of Faith Pages 162-186 Pub. 1950

 

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