Islamic terrorists aren’t attacking churches, they’re attacking schools and newspapers.
In 2001, Bush called for a “crusade” against Islamic terrorists. His choice of words caused many to cringe, although as it turned out he was on the money. The last thirteen years have been a never-ending battle between Judeo-Christians and Muslims that has destroyed much of the Mideast, just like Crusades 1.0. Also just like the original crusades, this latest effort has been a colossal rort, rife with waste, chicanery, profiteering and downright theft. Bush said “crusade,” and by golly, he meant it. (In fact, you could probably argue that most wars we fought in the 20th Century were crusades, from WWII to Vietnam, where the uber-Catholic Dulles brothers supported the Catholic Diem against Ho Chi Minh, to our cold war on “godless Communism.”)
This week at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama again used the C-word, but in a very different context and to different purpose. He was attempting to decouple “Islam” and “terrorist,” and specifically to argue that Islam isn’t the root cause of terror, but rather poverty and unemployment are. (Specifically, he cited the crusades as an example of “terrible deeds” done in the name of religion by the West.)
The link between terror and Islam is much stronger. Now not all Muslims are terrorists, true enough, but an astounding number of terrorists are Muslim, enough so that it’s hard to pass off as coincidence. There’s a very obvious reason why it could be the religion itself which is the cause of terror: It’s a religion with a set of beliefs fundamentally at odds with those that underpin our modern society.
Consider free speech. It was telling that even as many in the world held up “Je suis Charlie” placards, in Sydney and other places many held up “Je suis Muslim” signs, showing solidarity with the killers, or at least their intent, rather than the victims. How do “moderate Muslims” suggest we avoid Charlie Hedbo tragedies in the future? Ban any mockery of religious figures. Period. That is, they’re not on the side of free speech, but on the side of religion. Nor is this antipathy to free speech just on issues related to religion. The leaders of virtually every Islamic country, from Iran to Egypt to Saudi to Turkey, have instituted severe restrictions on the press.
Or consider women’s rights and education. Boko Haram, the popular name of the Nigerian-based Islamic terrorist group that raided a girl’s school and kidnapped 276 girls into slavery, actually means “education is forbidden.” And the reason for the Afghan Taliban’s resistance to the Takari government in the 1980’s was first and foremost because they disagreed with the Russian’s insistence on educating girls and other reforms. Recently their Taliban brothers in Pakistan raided a school and killed 145 children and teachers as a reaction to the world’s sympathy for the attack on Malala Yousafzai. Even in those Muslim countries where women are not killed for the crime of education, they’re still controlled and limited in everything from dress to driving a car, e.g., Iran and Saudi.
Keep going down the list—democratically elected governments, freedom to worship, independent judiciaries, tolerance of minorities, etc. It’s a long list, and Islam is at odds with most of it.
(All religions, including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism have fundamentalist wings who espouse terrorism. However, those differ from Islamic terror both in scale and scope. Also, most adherents to those religions have been able to accommodate their belief systems with the modern world and decry terrorism.)
In short, the problem isn’t just that radical Islamists have adopted a set of violent tactics that we abhor, but rather that the belief system itself just doesn’t fit in a modern world. It’s Islam that is the problem and that needs to change. Obama prevaricated because we are faced with, to use the words of Al Gore, an uncomfortable truth: Our devotion to religious tolerance and democracy doesn’t really work so well when dealing with a religion that doesn’t believe in either tolerance or democracy.
One of the reasons we’re hesitant to just come out and say this is because most people belong to a different religion. If a Christian criticizes Islam, for example, it’s seen as self-serving. Well, I’m an atheist. I have no God in this fight. And it’s because I’m an atheist that I object to letting Islam off the hook for terror. Islamic terrorists aren’t attacking churches, they’re attacking schools and newspapers.