Sunday, September 05, 2004

Recent events in Russia and Sudan, and the ongoing strife in Iraq, Israel and throughout the Middle East have brought us to an inescapable truth.

Islam, or those claiming Islam, are at the forefront of a war not seen in over a thosand years.

How we respond will determine our future.

Islam in the West, Part One of Three

When the Cold War abruptly ended, there was a euphoric if yet undefined expectation that our better selves would migrate into a new form of brotherhood. The arms race, the military industrial complex and defense technology industries would be transformed into mechanisms for the betterment of mankind. There would be miracle cures, miracle drugs, economic growth, and the world in general, would be a better place to live. We would face new challenges and strifes of course, but we would be better equipped to handle them, in kind, more humane way than the horrors of war known in the 20th century.

No, it didn't work out that way .

Now, let me pose a thought to consider: Should the American citizenship test ask the following questions?

"Do you believe that every individual has the right to believe or not believe as they see fit?"

"Do you believe in the right of individuals to renounce or change their beliefs?"

For most of us, those are questions hardly worth any serious thought.

Those questions have become very relevant now.

It is my belief the two points I raise have a lot to do with the world we live in now.
Societies have been immeasurably enriched by religion. Religion has helped define our laws and customs and religion has provided comfort and solace to individuals that no government ever could.

Equally, the same could be said for the irreligious. Secular thought has given us new ideas and torn down barriers. Secularism has been the basis for our social safety nets and the freedom to be as non conformist as we wish to be.

Until now, religion and secularism in the west have coexisted and indeed, have thrived together. They have each benefited from essential truths they each bring to the table.

The migration of Islam into the west and into western awareness has changed all that. The compacts shared by western societies have been changed.

It is an oversimplification to say a more visible and engaged Islam is responsible for all the ills we face. Nevertheless, the impact of Islam and Muslims cannot be discounted.

I do want to make clear I am not attacking all Muslims nor am I attacking Islam, per se. I am posing certain questions and drawing conclusions based on what we all see and hear. Clearly, Muslims in general, are defined in ways beyond their own control.

In the post communist era, the secularists were presented with a bonus they could never have dreamed of. The liberation of Europe unleashed generations of peoples that had no real connection to religion. In the free western societies, religious affiliations and beliefs are part of our collective mosaic. Eastern Europeans were different. They were and are not bad people- they just came from a place where all religious affiliations were frowned upon and a society that made deliberate religious affiliation were a barrier to social acceptance.

Eastern Europeans are not necessarily atheists or agnostics. However, whatever their religious convictions are, they have, out of necessity, removed religion from their exterior lives. One friend of mine from Poland cannot fathom what a political candidate's religious beliefs have to do with the ability to serve as an elected official. In candor, I have a tough time answering that question.

In any case, the secularists in the west discovered a new faith of their own- Multiculturalism. Eastern Europeans were quick converts. Languages and customs unfamiliar to us and the initial overdosing on American culture quickly made Eastern Europeans rediscover their own heritage. They wanted to preserve it in a pure a form as possible, forgetting at times that all things move forward and adapt.

The secularists, ever foes of the religious and the traditional, pounced on more conservative values, referring to those values as 'racist' and 'hateful.'

Multiculturalism, masquerading as righteousness, assaulted western values like bin Ladens call to Jihad.

To a true Multiculturalist, all is sacred and nothing is profane. Tolerance is transformed from appropriate and considered behavior into belief- the belief that all is equal. From moon worshippers to Jim Jones, all is equal in the eyes of the Multiculturalist. Secularists no longer have to present cogent and reasoned argument. They wave the religious icon of their beliefs and all must bow before the god(s) du jour. Religious people and those not so religious, but of more conservative values, yield to 'Judge not, lest ye be judged' and the values of decorous behavior. In other words, they resigned themselves into accepting the multiculturalist agenda. For the most part, they could simply ignore that agenda. Multiculturalism became an integral (and politically involved) part of the western societal fabric.

It is into this environment, Islam appeared in the west.

The Islam we are exposed to forces us all to my earlier query. Should the following questions be added to our citizenship exam?

"Do you believe that every individual has the right to believe or not believe as they see fit?"

"Do you believe in the right for individuals to renounce or change their beliefs?"

The answer to those questions affect us all. Whether or not you are religious, conservative, atheist, agnostic or a confirmed multiculturalist, the importance of the answer to these question will define our future.

In Part II, I will discuss the conflicts Islam has with western values and the conlflicts Islam faces from within.

Wandering Mind

may not be suitable for political vegans