Saturday, September 16, 2006

Faith and the Sword: Spoiling for a Fight

Pope Bendict's quotation from an obscure medieval text, taken out of the context of his recent Regensburg, Germany speech, has riled the Muslim world.

These are the exact words he uttered, quoting a 14th-century text: "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." Maybe not the best choice in a speech calling for dialogue.

It is the suggestion or misinterpretation of "jihad" that is so galling to Islam's vocal defenders who, ironically, reinforce the stereotype they spurn. So here we go again.

Angry Muslims chafe at the suggestion that Islam is a faith built on holy war. But lost in the swirl of angry Muslim rhetoric is the historical fact (at least in the past 50 years) that Islam, as practiced by very visible and vocal extremists, is inextricably tied to religious violence.

Islamofascism is the terror of the world.

It is not a Western fabrication that the last words heard by victims of their violence (like beheaded Nick Berg) is "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great"). (Indeed, they videotaped it so we would hear it. Talk about spreading faith by the sword...)

"Islamic Jihad", anyone? Hezbollah -- "the party of God"?

No wonder Melanie McDonagh in the London Telegraph writes: "It looks, from this miserable episode, as if you can only have a conversation that deals – however remotely – with Islam on Muslim terms. Not much of a dialogue, then."

No -- in the early 21st century, Islam has done most of its talking with the sword.

The question for our time is, does the West have the steel to fight back?

UPDATE: 5 churches shot at and firebombed in Palestinian areas. Terrorist have no sense of irony: "In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the 'Lions of Monotheism' claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying they were carried out to protest the Pope's remarks in a speech this week in Germany linking Islam and violence." (Emphasis added).

UPDATE 2: A Catholic nun is shot to death in Somalia and a Muslim cleric calls calls for the pope's execution.

Clifford May (former NY foreign correspondent wrote): "In his speech this week, President Bush said, too, that the war in which America is engaged is not a 'clash of civilizations' but a 'struggle for civilization.' Perhaps that suggests another way we might characterize the ideology against which free nations are struggling: It is barbarism. There have always been barbarians at civilization's gates. Maybe it's time we accepted that, and resolved to fight them – wherever they are and for as long as it takes. Maybe we have to make up our minds that, difficult though it will be, on our watch the enemies of freedom – whatever their ideology -- will not prevail."

UPDATE 3: Jeff Jacoby writes: "If it weren't so sickening, it would be farcical: A line in the pope's speech suggests that Islam has a dark history of violence, and offended Muslims vent their displeasure by howling for his death, firebombing churches, and attacking innocent Christians. One of the points Benedict made in his speech at the University of Regensburg was that religious faith untethered by reason can lead to savagery. The mobs denouncing him could hardly have done a better job of proving him right. . . . While the rioters and those inciting them routinely insult Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, they demand that no one be allowed to denigrate Islam or its prophet. It is a staggering double standard, and too many in the West seem willing to go along with it. Witness the editorials in US newspapers this week scolding the pope for his speech. Recall the State Department's condemnation of the Danish cartoons last winter.
Of course nobody's faith should be gratuitously affronted. But the real insult to Islam is not a line from a papal speech or a cartoon about Mohammed. It is the violence, terror, and bloodshed that Islamist fanatics unleash in the name of their religion -- and the unwillingness of most of the world's Muslims to say or do anything to stop them." Indeed. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

America's enemies in plain sight

Mark Steyn is on the money. Again. Money quote:
Five years on, half America has retreated to the laziest old tropes, filtering the new struggle through the most drearily cobwebbed prisms: All dramatic national events are JFK-type conspiracies, all wars are Vietnam quagmires. Meanwhile, Ramzi Yousef's successors make their ambitions as plain as he did: They want to acquire nuclear technology in order to kill even more of us. And, given that free societies tend naturally toward a Katrina mentality of doing nothing until it happens, one morning we will wake up to another day like the "day that changed everything." Sept. 11 was less "a failure of imagination" than an ability to see that America's enemies were hiding in plain sight.

They still are.
Read the whole thing here.

Been busy

Been a busy past couple of weeks: sending our son David on his mission, caregiving to my parents-in-law who've been living with us for the summer while remodeling their newly-purchased home, my father-in-law's hip replacement surgery, the near-simultaneous move-in to their new remodeled home, bishoping in a BYU student ward (zero to 60 in a couple of weeks as we organize), lots of work at work, company and friends visiting. No time to blog. (Although lots has happened world-wise -- it's not that I haven't been watching. It's that I haven't had the time, or, frankly, the desire). Amends. I'll post some more.