Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Islam in the West, Part Three
Religion in the west has been depoliticized. Our relationship with God is now a wholly private affair. Religious authorities have seen their influence reduced in the political arena. For the most part, this has been a good thing. Inasmuch as there is no state religion or bar to adherents of different faiths to participate in the political process, for the most part, the separation of church and state has worked.
Until recently, world affairs were understood, if not approved. Military or political coups, new governments and surprise opposition governments all fell into 'Plans A, B or C.' Irrespective of the origin of those governments, secularism was understood to be the thread of diplomacy and treaty. We knew how to deal with the world around us.
That all changed with the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. The Ayatollah Khomeini initiated religion as the primary force, the raison d'etre of the State.
There are other states that have religion as foundational. Israel, Singapore and a host of other countries where religious influence is strong. Ireland and Poland are two such examples. Still, in those countries, religion does not trump the inalienable right to free choice and free will.
Not so in the Islamic Republic of Iran and for that matter, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). In those countries, clerics were elevated to high positions of authority and influence. They became the aristocracy, the ruling class. There was no longer a government or judiciary that was outside the sphere of religion—as interpreted by themselves.
The Iranian mullahs and the KSA didn't just include religion in the public square, it became the public square.
While it is a common discussion to argue the merits of a society filled with more religion or less, it is a wholly different matter when including and discussing Islam. Apples and oranges, as they say.
It is a fact of history that Christianity was at one time a more barbaric religion. Influenced by power, politics, fear and greed, the powers that dominated Christianity committed their own share of sins. Nevertheless, Christianity moved forward into the primary skeletal structure of free societies. Taking the cue from their religious forbearer's, the Jews, Christians developed the 'uber ghetto,' a society that found 'live and let live' the operative bywords. One can argue it was the Reformation, the printing press or trading treaties that followed wars, but in the end, the tolerant 'State' evolved.
While it is true that western countries at war always invoke God's blessing, we distinctly remove God from the battlefield. We ask his blessing in our endeavors, but we also understand that God despises war and the ensuing tragedies. Very different than Islam, where political battles migrate to sacred status.
Islam is different. Not only has that religion not reformed, it's evolution has been regressive. As I wrote earlier... “it is only through strength and forcefulness that a Muslim can truly be a Believer. He must force himself and his beliefs upon others with no quarter for mercy or compromise, if he is to fulfill his destiny as God's agent on earth.”
Examine the differences between two important religious minorities in the US, Jews and Muslims.
Jews are universally recognized for the their levels of education and achievement. The contributions they have made to the betterment of society are immeasurable. They are recognized universally for their charity and social involvement to improve the world we live in. Regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, they are participants and contribute. They are a model of a group that takes care of it's own and anyone else in need. This is not a new phenomena. It has been going on for centuries. What is remarkable is that despite centuries of persecution, Jews picked up their bootstraps and thrived.
Unlike Jews that wanted to integrate and contribute, Muslims do not want to be a part of our world- unless it is on their terms. I wrote earlier, "For almost 14 centuries, Islam has remained the same. To somehow think we are looking at a 'new and improved' Islam, as presented to us by the apologists is only to fool ourselves. The call to Islam is coming from the fundamentalist movements, the same groups who utter medieval calls to slaughter this group or that group. They call for the establishment of Sharia Law as the bedrock of their 'new' society. They want to turn back the clock, as if it could be done..."
We are being told to sublimate who we are in order to accommodate ideas that we have dispensed with centuries ago. Moral relativism it seems, negates our own evolution and asks us to regress into a society and culture that we know to be cancerous. We are being asked to suspend belief in universal truths. To clarify the matter and to underscore the significance, refer to a piece by Paulie, at The Commons.
The popularity of bin Laden, the idolizing of Yasser Arafat as a 'liberator' only serve to highlight the wide chasm that separates the West from Islam. That Muslims seek approval and recognition as a religious and political group, through victimization, rather than achievement, is telling. Islam feels no need to achieve. The very existance of Islam and Muslims are reason enough to demand our subjugation. We are 'dhimmi,' second class, no more and no less.
Islam is attempting to exploit moral relativism and use it a a weapon. Somehow, we must embrace those that call for the destruction and demise of certain people's and homelands. We are being asked to discard our beliefs and ideals if they in any way conflict with any Muslim objective. If we recoil or reject that notion, we are evil and racist. Somehow, we must accommodate them.
We in the west are happy to live in pluralistic societies. The opportunities to share the opportunities we have is in large part our distinguishing feature. The immigrants who preceded us were all eager to take us on our offer to succeed. We would not dictate a particular religion, we would not impede religious practices or ethnic customs or traditions. All we asked in return was to join us and participate in the very way of life that made it all possible.
Now we are told, that the problem with America is us. We need to cease being ourselves, we need to discard the very values that made us great. If we don't, we are told, we will pay the price. As I said at the beginning of this piece, free choice is unacceptable.
America is unique in many ways, not the least of which is how we celebrate religion as a community.
We willingly share those religious beliefs that are universal and elevating. We want religion to bring out the best in us all, regardless of faith.
Now we are being asked to accept the values of Islamic fundamentalism, dressed up. Other religious beliefs are irrelevant if they remain in conflict with Islam. We are told that if we don't accept the conditions placed on us, we are at fault and all that befalls us is only a response to our failure to accommodate those making the demands.
Clearly, this unacceptable to Americans.