Monday, September 11, 2006

Taking Islam Seriously

On the whole, I agreed with a recent ARI op-ed, "The Terrorists' Motivation: Islam," by Dr. Edwin Locke and Alex Epstein, and read it with great appreciation. Its principle point is that Islamic totalitarianism is a greater threat than most people can imagine. However, I had been saying that for years. I kept getting expressions of doubt concerning the fundamental nature of Islam, doubts that denied or questioned whether jihad against non-believers, infidels, and Western civilization in general was an integral weave of the Islamic cloth. These reservations and doubts came from some surprising Objectivist quarters.

But, going by recent observations by other Objectivists, I think no doubts remain among our number that Islam poses a mortal peril here and abroad. This is a positive way to mark the fifth anniversary of the Islamic attack on this country.

My only reservation about the op-ed can be found in this paragraph:

"It is true that many Muslims who live in the West (like most Christians) reject religious fanaticism and are law-abiding and even loyal citizens, but this is because they have accepted some Western values, including respect for reason, a belief in individual rights, and the need for a separation between church and state. It is only to the extent that they depart from their religion - and from a society that imposes it - that they achieve prosperity, freedom, and peace."
Islam is just as insidiously corrupting as is Christianity. Name me one Christian who has a fundamental, unshakable respect for reason, individual rights, and a separation of church and state. True, as the op-ed points out, Christianity's "jihadist" character has been diluted since the Renaissance (and the recent resurgence of Christianity Harry Binswanger called an aberration). But most rank and file Christians are foggy on these ideas, while most of their "intellectual" spokesmen today are outspokenly hostile to them.

Islam cannot be tamed or diluted, not unless, as I've written elsewhere, the creed is gutted of its belligerent commandments. No Islamic scholar, ayatollah, or cleric is going to attempt that kind of "reformation" without risking a charge of apostasy and a fatwah on his life. If it were ever accomplished, what would be left would not be Islam, but a creed as innocuous and pacific as the Amish. The fundamental requirement of Islam is, simply put, abject, unquestioning submission by belief, conversion, or the sword (or bomb). It is as primitive and barbaric a creed as the Mayan or Aztec.

I am certain that if those American Muslims, who, as the op-ed describes in the op-ed, reject religious fanaticism and are law-abiding citizens, are ever faced with a choice, secularism or faith, they would side with faith. I see them as a fifth column here, kindling for the kind of warlike proselytizing that is common in mosques in Britain and Europe against the "host" country. We have seen the beginnings of such "radicalization" here as we've seen in Britain and Europe, with the SUV-jihadists and the Muslims who bought thousands of cell phones in a plot to destroy a Michigan bridge, and other incidents involving violent Muslim "activism."

What we have not seen here is any sincere, across-the-board condemnation of terrorism by Muslims by any American Muslim organization. Nor are we likely to. The creed forbids it; it would demand a conscious contradiction of principles. (And I'm not even including the transparent, pseudo-pious PR statements of CAIR or the Muslim Council of America, whose spokesmen have expressed a desire to see the Constitution replaced with Sharia law. CAIR, by the way, is an offshoot of Hamas and is more or less subsidized by Saudi Wahhabists.) Islam is not Episcopalism garbed in a hajib or burkah.

Furthermore, I don't think enough critics of Islam take seriously enough the "separatist" agenda of Islam in Western countries, a separatism or move to a status of "separate but equal" reminiscent of the black power movement of the 1960's and 1970's. The aforementioned Amish may wish to remain "separate" from American culture, and have largely done so, but they are not waging a jihadist campaign to convert other Americans or incorporate Amish principles into American law, either on the street or in court.

Just as a Christian must repudiate his creed in its entirety before he can begin to respect reason, endorse individual rights, and call for an iron curtain separation of church and state (most Christians adhere to these ideas more from "tradition" than from conscious conviction), so must a Muslim his. I think I understand Islam well enough to know that a repudiation of Islam, while necessary, is ethically and intellectually impossible to the non-thinking Muslim, and certainly impossible to Muslim clerics of any rank, who have a vested interest in enlarging their credulous congregations.

Anyone who was intellectually honest enough to attempt it would need to go into hiding, as did Wafa Sultan, the woman who condemned Islam on Al Jazeera TV, to elude her Muslim assassins. (Just the other day there was an item in the paper about a Sudanese editor who criticized Islam, who disappeared, and then was found dead on the outskirts of Khartoum, executed.) Briefly, I don't think it is possible for any Muslim to mentally compartmentalize his religious convictions as Christians and Jews do, or to think and act "outside the box." He is required to maintain his Islamic identity all his conscious hours. Christians or Jews can innovate in business, medicine, science and even the arts; I am not aware of any "Westernized" Muslim making a breakthrough in stem cell research or astrophysics or industrial production.

Finally, from a purely emotional standpoint, I find the presence of Muslims in the U.S. repulsive. There is no room in their creed for individualism, independence of mind, or for any of the virtues championed by Objectivism. Informally, I call them the "Borg." I cannot reconcile the thought of mosques in any part of the country with the images of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Washington.

The image of Jefferson's statue in the Memorial rotunda next to the figure of a Muslim kneeling on a prayer mat in supplication to a fearsome ghost is too violently offensive. I refuse to ignore that contrast, nor will I accept it as a norm and shrug it off.

Islam represents a tyranny over men's minds incompatible with what this country was intended to be. Even in a semi-rational culture such as ours, there is no room for the Koran and Hadith and the Declaration and the Constitution in the same country at the same time. One could say this as well, that ultimately there is no room in it for the Bible and the Declaration at the same time, either.

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