Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Pope Didn’t Back Down in Turkey: Rat Choice Theory--Part 14

RJN explains that his primary purpose was to show his solidarity with the beseiged Patriarch Bartholomew I. The two Christian leaders made it clear together what Europe should require of Turkey as a condition of its admission to the EU: Genuine genuine devotion to and protection of religious liberty and the other inalienable rights of human persons. Otherwise Europe IS nothing at all.

Discussions - 32 Comments

I am not sure how anyone can say the Pope did not back down. Based on what I read he prayed towards Mecca in a mosk. Note how many Muslims go to churches, and note where they pray. That says everything.

It was worse than all that. He symbolically expressed solidarity with the tormentors, the destroyers of the Eastern Orthodox Christians. His prayer towards Mecca will be understood as but another validation of the fundamental authenticity of islam.

It disheartened those that are suffering, and ignored the suffering of generations past.

It was all rather nauseating.

And sadly, it’s become par for the course anymore, with Western leaders.

Steve and Dan: You guys simply don’t "get it." The Holy Father was acting within the highest traditions of his faith, informed by the place and context of his prayer. He was praying to the one, true God, together with other human beings created in the full image and likeness of God, who worship God given the insights available to them, for peace and.......what else? For all we know, he was praying for the conversion of not only all Muslims, but for the conversion of all Christians. Both of which God surely desires. I applaud the Holy Father’s spiritual magnanimity.

Gary:

You are right, I do not get it. I do not think the Pope is infalliable, or anything other than just a normal person. I take his actions at face value and do not presuppose they are right, good, or holy. I suppose you would have had the same arguments if the Pope during WW2 had prayed with the facists, right?

Steve: It’s "mosque", "infallible" and "fascists". You’re welcome. More substantive reply later. Going for a "Huckabee" run along the Rio Grande with friends now. Cheers, GS.

For those interested here is part of the joint statement. You may read the entire thing here:

4. We have viewed positively the process that has led to the formation of the European Union. Those engaged in this great project should not fail to take into consideration all aspects affecting the inalienable rights of the human person, especially religious freedom, a witness and guarantor of respect for all other freedoms. In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion. In Europe, while remaining open to other religions and to their cultural contributions, we must unite our efforts to preserve Christian roots, traditions and values, to ensure respect for history, and thus to contribute to the European culture of the future and to the quality of human relations at every level. In this context, how could we not evoke the very ancient witnesses and the illustrious Christian heritage of the land in which our meeting is taking place, beginning with what the Acts of the Apostles tells us concerning the figure of Saint Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles? In this land, the Gospel message and the ancient cultural tradition met. This link, which has contributed so much to the Christian heritage that we share, remains timely and will bear more fruit in the future for evangelization and for our unity.

Gary, the issue isn’t what Ratzinger’s private motivations may have been. Right now, with Europe up on the Civilizational chopping block, with islam dictating the pace of diplomatic, economic and military engagement, Ratzinger needed to be mindful of how his remarks would be understood by muslims.

This wasn’t the time for more meaningless symbolism, more harping on irrelevant commonalities. Take a gander over at National Review Online today, and check out Bat Yeor’s book review of a new book comparing islam to Christianity. That brief book review identifies the types of issues that the Pope should be speaking about.

"Spiritual magnanimity" sounds great, but in the face of jihad, in the presence of the blood, the tears, the family members ripped away forever, the carnage, this isn’t any time for grandstanding, political or spiritual. Another time, and another place, "spiritual magnanimity" is appropriate. Not here. Not now.

The West is in a war for it’s own survival. We need the leader of the religion that is foundational to Western Civilization to put the present war in proper historical context. The Pope should be reminding people of what happened to the Christians in Damascus, Kirkuk, Tarsus, Antioch, Alexandria, Hippo, Constantinople, et al. The West needs to be reminded of the PERDURING islamic menace. The Pope needs to provide the spiritual support for pagan Westerners, pagan, post-moderns to take up the sword. This isn’t the time for more vain, and vainglorious "dialogue," which are nothing more than fraudulent and disheartening stunts.

Recall people, the Pope’s infallibility is limited to two areas, two issues, and those two issues are FAITH and MORALS. Outside of those areas, the Pope speaks like anyone else. But when the Pope speaks on issues of FAITH and MORALS, AND WHEN CLAIMING the authority of the Keys, it’s only then that he may speak "infallibly." It is only then that he can rely upon the Holy Spirit to preserve him from leading the flock astray on matters of Faith and morals.

Don’t allow any black legends to expand papal infallibility beyond it’s proper limits.

In Turkey, the Pope was making, yet another diplomatic overture to those not interested in the previous overtures, nor particularly interested in this one.

You see the muslims don’t have any fascination with this post-modern fetish for interfaith dialogue. They’re far too robust in mind and spirit for any of this delicate crap. And that’s what it is.

As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I just hate to see things like this. Too often, Popes, Bishops, etc. imagine themselves going to Mars Hill and being clever. Fact is, by praying towards Mecca the Pope was indulging in not meaningless symbolism, but the symbolism that confuses the real and irreconcilable differences between the Satanic inspired Mohammed and Christ our God.

Of course, the modern "ecumenical movement" is the history of symbology like this. May God protect us from our Bishops!!!

I agree with Dan. When I read about the matter the first thing I thought was of a very weak force begging a much stronger force to be allowed to continue to exist. Like an ant might beg an elephant to be allowed to survive in some small way.

From what I gather, churches are largely empty in Europe, and if the continent has any future with religion it will seem to be Muslim, not Christian, religion which will be practiced. I believe the Pope wishes to get on Islam’s good side so Christanity and it churches will be allowed to exist in some non-offensive way. The Pope is hoping Notre Dame will not become the next St. Sophia.

Chris is dead right. There was a great deal more than symbolism in that weird gesture for radical muslims. It VALIDATES them, it provides authenticity for foundational claims of islam, that it is the primordial religion, and that Christianity and Judaism are marred, errant versions of the true, overarching islamic cosmology. I don’t know what he was thinking, but rest assured, many a foreign ministry and establishment type has been leaning on him to repeat the same old, muliti-cultural clap trap that has put Europe within a stone’s throw of cultural and political extinction. Those idiots are EXTINGUISHING not just themselves, but their glorious, wondrous and majestic culture. And instead of rising up to fight, all they can do is throw themselves at the feet of their oppressors, and plead for mercy.

What a contemptible spectacle! Good God what a pathetic and contemptible spectacle!!!

Know that I approve of Gary’s earlier sentiment, {which was expressed very well} it’s just that such sentiment is inappropriate for the present. Maybe some time in the future, probably far beyond our lifetimes, there might be a time when Westerners can look at islam with such composure, free from any anxiety about conquest, subjugation and jihad. But we are in the midst of a resurgent jihadist spirit. We are witnessing a spirit of jihad unseen since the days when islamic swords were climbing up the ramparts of Vienna. But whereas Vienna didn’t want for defenders, didn’t want for men who picked up a sword with relish, and who knew exactly what to do with it, and knew exactly who to bury it in, today, we live in a world of "men without chests," as C.S. Lewis observed. "Men without chests" have no reason to live, {other than those that are sensual, materialistic and glandular}, thus they have no reason to fight, no reason to put their lives on the line. Recall our Torpedo Bombers at the battle of Midway, they knew that they were sitting ducks if they tried to attack the Jap Carriers, yet, nonetheless, they went over to the attack, and to their deaths. Today, we have men who will stand in line for DAYS for American Idol, or The Apprentice, {of course there are men of sterner stuff, of course there are men who are something of a throwback, but that’s the problem, such men ARE throwbacks, anachronistic, out of step, out of time}.

It’s difficult not to conclude that the events we are seeing all around us are but "signs of the times."

I agree with the pope, and I don’t think this pope can be accused of mindless interfaith dialogue. I respect the opinions of those who believe that Islam is a violent authoritarian religion with dreams of theocracy. I also think that we overlook the dangers posed by Islam at our own peril. That said...the opinion that there are no moderate muslims is uninformed... Also our intellectual presupositions tend to clarify things instead of keeping them muddy...this is a strength and a weakness... Supposing that Islam is a violent ontology is correct. Supposing that Muslims are completly encompased in this structure is almost(but not quite)as foolhardy as supposing that because a majority of americans are christian there is no way that abortion or pornography can be legal there. But by demonizing Islam we make muslims more aware of their ontological structure(not to mention contributing to a more violent version of it). Muslims shop at Wal Mart too. Muslims hit snooze on alarms in the morning. Muslims talk on cell phones. Muslims in short are human beings that engage with the community in much the same way as Jews or Christians...but in demonizing Islam we provoke the base...we make them more commited Muslims(and we give them a somewhat false sense that the Islam of Bin laden is the true Islam...and this is a much greater threat)

As an Atheist I admire strong christians even as I love to needle them about the ontological commitments they supposedly have...but if I were to regard the threat of theocracy seriously this would be extremely foolish...rather then I should speak very little of moral hypocracy and let other ontologies rule them as would occur naturally in our very wealthy and busy society. The same wisdom is I believe much more important in regards to Islam in Europe and the world over. Secularist should speak very little of Islam or Christianity and simply let people live out lives ruled unconsciously by more benign gods...idols, moral strictures, laws, regulations and priorities.

In short I almost look upon the power of religion with some pity...Muslims will be European by the time Europe becomes Muslim...unless by exasperating the differences...and drawing clear ontological differences...religion maintains its hold on these people out of stubborn conviction that this belief is in fact truth and worthy of an existential battle.

If you really think about it...who does the religious right really profit from? why do they countinue to exist as a force? The answer is that they are enraged by the belief that everything they stand for is under attack by "secularists" and "atheists"....there is always a war against thanksgiving or christmas or the ten commandments...there is always an ill advised comment by NOW or a court case by the ACLU a leaflet by planned parenthood or an idiotic comment by the NAACP that is all too easily de-contextualized and used to provoke. The bottom line is that the strawman form attacks on Islam as a religion contribute to Islam maintaining power as a religion in precisely the way that we fear most...left to its own internal formulations without viable threats from without it will modernize and liberalize itself.

John Lewis,

To focus on one area you are in error: Simply because Muslims shop at Walmart, use alarm clocks, eat, and breath, does not a peaceful co-existence make. They may shop at Walmart, but their religion compels them to convert you. Yours is the progressive view of history - that Walmart (i.e. economics, and human nature) makes us all peaceful and happy liberal westerners.

Oh, one other thing. You just could not help spinning into your mortal fears of "religious right" by the end, could you? :)

John Lewis:

I disagree with your assertion that if radical Muslims are left alone, the allure of modernity will entice them to stop blowing themselves and others up. As far as I can tell, at least since WW1, the West has had very little involvement with the Muslim world, in the sense of trying to impose its values upon it. Muslims in the US, or probably in much of Europe, are free to do as they please. That does not stop native born British Muslims from turning radical and blowing up buses, and French Muslims from waging civil war against police, or Danish Muslims from burning the Danish flag when political cartoons parody them.

So far there seems to be little proof that leaving them alone to live in societies within societies will result in a deradicalization, rather it seems to increase radicalization, perfectly fine parents are producing sons who want to kill their fellow citizens. When people’s lives are at stake, err on the side of caution.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric flying around lately is scaring me. The majority of Muslims, like the majority of any other group, IS moderate. Most of them neither want to convert us nor kill us.

If you’ve ever been in a bar fight situation, the guy who walks away without a chair busted over his head is the one who says "Hey man, I don’t want no trouble." A lot of the commenters on here are shoving innocent bystanders in the chest, saying "you gonna look at me like that? Don’t think I can take you?" That’s what makes us look weak.

I defy anyone to tell my that common Iraquis have gotten less anti-American since we started bombing them.

Yes there are radical Muslims and perhaps even Islamofascists. Let’s stop them and let’s stop our extremists too. It will be a lot easier than trying to convert an entire culture.

DK, if that is so, if the vast majority of muslims are indeed moderate, as you suggest, then where is that moderation reflected in the pulpits, in the leadership, in the ruling cliques of the various muslim countries. If there are moderates, where does that groundswell of muslim moderation exert itself upon their leadership, and upon their clerics? If muslims are presently moderate, could you identify when in islamic history this moderation began to become noticeable? For I would like to know historically when this period of moderation commenced? Is this moderation doctrinal within islam, or is this moderation evidence of muslims that could be more accurately described as lapsed muslims, non-observant muslims.

You stated that the majority of muslims don’t want to kill us, nor convert us. That’s something that I would like to believe too. It’s just that ever since I was a boy the news has been constantly filled with muslim terror, blood and carnage. Can you explain the soaring popularity of the name OSAMA since 9/11. Could you explain why the majority of BRITISH MUSLIMS desire to be ruled by shariaa law, a koranic code fundamentally at war with the very predicates of Anglo-American jurisprudence, {be mindful that for such a code to become preeminent, the laws that have governed dear old England since the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymeade would have to be overturned}. Would you like to offer your explanation why so many muslim countries turn a blind eye towards muslim terror? Why is that a commentator on Al Arabia said that although not all muslims are terrorists, it certainly appears that all terrorists are muslims. Why the surge in popularity of Mein Kampf throughout states that we longed hoped were truly moderating, such as Jordan and Turkey. Why is Mein Kampf being called Mein Jihadi in Arabic? Care to explain the genocidal anti-Semitism sweeping throughout the Arab lands? Care to explain the MOBS, in their hundreds of thousands, demanding retractions from the Pope, from the cartoonists? Where are the mobs, in their millions, the great muslim "silent majority" if you will, where are they demonstrating, where are they demanding jobs not jihad, demanding education not indoctrination, demanding hospitals instead of madrassas, demanding peace instead of war. Where are those parades, where do they take place.

These are just a few questions you might want to consider.

You would do well to recall too that nobody in Washington wanted to believe that the Japanese represented a mortal threat during the ’30s and ’40s.

You need to be very careful about PROJECTING your decency upon people from cultures PROFOUNDLY different than your own. And you need to be very careful not to assume that values that inform your culture, inform others. Islam has a track record, it is one of blood and carnage. And that’s being charitable. Please review what has happened to every community where muslims gained political control. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Anatolia used to be Christian. Likewise the Levant. Likewise Egypt, Libya, Algeria. Have you any idea what the muslims did to the Hindus, or the Sikhs. Do you know why Pakistan is presently muslim, did you know what happened centuries ago to crush that people into the islamic umma. Islam means submission, subjugation. Do you really believe that all those people long ago were overjoyed to make that submission. Do you know what happened to Constantinople? Do you know what happened to the Eastern Orthodox who survived, do you know what happened to their Churches, their shrines?

All you have to do is check out the history of jihad. It’s not me that’s scary, it’s those ignorant about that history, and who allow their ignorance to inform foreign and domestic policy. It’s them you should be frightened of.

Sure, there are decent muslims out there, and in the West we see many that are lapsed, non-observational. Anecdotal evidence of those muslims one might meet at a cocktail party in Washington do not provide a firm basis for a policy of wishful thinking about islam.

Scrutinize islam as you would any ideology. And then you’ll know what to do. Begin with Bat Yeor, and then move on to Andrew Bostom.

And John, I hope you’re right. For the European elite have literally "bet the house" that your scenario will prevail. We are witnessing something without precedent in all of history, where the citizens of one continent and culture, have allowed into their midst, BY THE TENS OF MILLIONS, people of another continent and culture, people who have proven to be their most mortal of enemies.

There is no historical analogy. It’s something that only liberals and intellectuals would have found the wherewithal to dare. Their last social experiment, Marxism/Leninism, didn’t fare too well. But this experiment, could trump even that in terms of civilizational catastrophe.

Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. And again, the elites did it without any consultation of the little people, of whom they profess such high regard. It was as anti-democratic an action as one will ever find.

"the elites did it without any consultation with the little people?" Give me a break...Europe is about as democratic as it comes...if European nations want to close down boarders they can vote for candidates that wish to do so.

Also I have no mortal fears of the religious right...absolutely none. Hell half the time I wish I could mobilize people to act on what they claim they believe. Does the religious right want to convert us(the rest of america)? Only if they take the great commission seriously...and they do... but a desire to convert someone to your way of thinking is natural and in america you are always welcome to try. I used the religious right to drive home an example... the religious right exists in america in large part for the same reason that the ACLU exists...namely competing ontologies are scared of each other and work to demonize the other...and at root the largest fear of the religious right has to be the amount of christians that are more or less lapsed...christians who are in essence not christian...in my words: christians whose ontological commitments are set by other gods and idols and ideas, even if this is somewhat unconscious. Calls to arms and discusion about islam from perspectives extremely hostile to it...simply acts to cement radical islam and mobilize those who would otherwise lapse into being muslims in name only.

Steve, I completly agree with you that leaving radical muslims alone will not stop them from blowing us up. This is true by definition..."radical muslims" are muslims for whom western materialism and liberalism has no allure...and is in fact viewed as a cancer.

Dan, great question! "Is this moderation doctrinal within islam, or is this moderation evidence of muslims that could be more accurately described as lapsed muslims, non-observant muslims?" but extremely imprudent of you...and this is my point. If we say that all moderate muslims are lapsed muslims then we are in essence saying that the islam of bin laden is the truth. If we openly say this... then there is no doubt in my mind that the effect that should be expected can ever be favorable. So to answer Steve and Dan I don’t suggest tolerating radical islam...not for one second. I suggest in fact making a distinction between muslims who are moderns and muslims who are not moderns...without talking about it in terms of islam qua islam. If I say that the only true Islam is a violent ontology and that all moderate muslims are simply corrupted by western ontologies...then I should be making a moderate muslim very uncomfortable...because I am making him choose between duty to his God (which is defined as requireing violence) and his wordly self-interest for himself and his familly.

In my humble opinion all of Dan’s questions are easily answered... The reason for this lies in how Islam is ontologized...how what the true islam is held to be influences people. If all moderate muslims are read or defined out of "true islam"...then these moderate muslims will either cease to be muslims or they will get their act together as a proffesion of faith and duty. The more moderate islam is seen as an abomination...the product of the corruption caused by the mixing with liberal European ontologies...the less moderate people who call themselves muslims will become.

In truth the modern struggle is the struggle to have and to keep to foundational ideas...to be a "true christian" to be a "true muslim" even perhaps to be a "true conservative". How do our lives correspond to our ontological commitments? This is not a philosophical question...It is an existential question, an active question... the answer to which is directly responsible for shaping almost all world events.

Uh John, have you witnessed the various ratification votes on the EU Constitution, which was rejected by the citizens of various countries within Europe. But that rejection hasn’t in any way slowed the EU process. It’s as if the rejection never happened. Like the hypothetical tree that fell in a forest, but made no sound. Supposedly Europeans are absolutely stunned, stunned that the American people have been able to move the Washington establishment towards securing the borders. A clear majority of Europeans approve of the death penalty, but the death penalty doesn’t exist in Europe. Why? I think it was Victor Davis Hanson who related a conversation he had in Europe with some academic, who was criticizing American when the issue of the death penalty arose. VDH responded by simply saying that the death penalty exists in America because the American people desire the death penalty to exist. At which point the European said that in Europe such a thing would not be allowed, implying that sophisticated Europeans wouldn’t allow the people to have the death penalty. Thereupon VDH just looked the guy in the eye and said "exactly." Thus stressing for the guy the intrinsic anti-democratic nature of much of Europe today. I wish I recalled the specifics of that conversation, but I think I conveyed the gist.


I agree that there are PRUDENTIAL issues involved in speaking the truth about islam. But when we are speaking entre nous, we should at least be able to speak the truth. It’s one thing to be economical regarding the truth of islam, but it’s ALTOGETHER ANOTHER to pretend that our political correct speech reflects the true nature of islam. That distinction is something we need to be very much aware of. We don’t want to run the risk of actually believing the polite fictions we deem it prudent to utter. So long as there is an accurate consensus about the true track record of islam, and so long as we are fully cognizant of that track record, and allow that truth to inform our foreign and domestic policy, all is well. But if we allow polite fictions to become foundations for our foreign policy, then we will court disaster.

I just can’t buy this.

Dan, I’m assuming you’re looking at the Muslim world from the same vantage point I am; from way way way on the outside. As I understand it, Western Christianity doesn’t look particularly moderate from their perspective either. They see us the same way we saw Saddam Hussein - has weapons of mass destruction, is prepared to attack us without provocation, hates our way of life. Except we actually made good on the first two.

So look at us: are we the great Satan? No! We’re just a bunch of people who want to be left alone. We have our extremists (including a few terrorists, like McVeigh and that anthrax-hoax-guy from Little Green Footballs) but most of us... well, never mind. We’re human, and the Muslims are killing machines bent on the destruction of the Earth. I don’t know what I was thinking. I forgot that last part again.

Going back to the bar fight though, I do know this: when the big guy starts beating up on the little guy, the other little guys feel obligated to help him out, especially if it looks like the big guy threw the first punch.

DK, don’t you perceive the problem inherent in exonerating islam today, by dredging up the misdeeds of Christianity of yesteryear. The times are too serious to indulge in parlor game relativism. This isn’t a contest of who can come up with the cleverest little gimmick to enable us to overlook the menace of today. I’m not sure why you mentioned McVeigh. Take a look at the globe, muslims are killing and subjugating Nigerians, slaughtering one another in Algeria, oppressing Copts in Egypt, preaching satanic genocide and supremacism throughout Saudi Arabia, driving out residual Christians in Lebanon and the West Bank, slaughtering one another in Iraq, so as to prevent the emergence of the lone successful republican government in Iraq. In Iran, they’re preparing themselves, in their own words, "to rule the world," and preparing for a world no longer made up of Israel and the United States. In India, muslims are slaughtering and raping Hindus, and launching a terror wave against Indian control of Kashmir. Thais, people that none have ever heard mentioned possessing a colonial past, not Caucasians, nor warlike. But they’re getting slaughtered by muslims too. What was their crime? Ten guesses. In the Philippines, likewise, more muslim mayhem. That’s just a brief overview of the world sit-rep. Now what exactly was that point you were trying to make with McVeigh. Did McVeigh, did any group of people like McVeigh, or any group of people mildly inclined towards political positions like McVeigh, ever launch a terror wave FOR YEARS, FOR DECADES, against any country that we know of. Of course not. And you know it.

Let yourself see what you are seeing. Let yourself make conclusions that follow inexorably from major and minor premises. Political correctness is a fashion statement. It’s not sufficient to provide for the security of yourself, your family, your friends, your community, nor your country, nor the friends of your country.

This isn’t a bar room brawl. This has been going on for centuries. The only time that the West has enjoyed a hiatus has been times when the West was overwhelmingly powerful, and possessed of the confidence to make short work of troublesome muslims, and mischievous muslim states. Power, resolve, vision, they’ll see you through this valley of the shadow. Don’t be frightened of those calling you to your native-born greatness.

Dan...if we are to speak the truth then we should realize that religion as a force in the world is in decline. The historical view of history is true...but it is not unconditionally true. Radical Muslims feel this decline most acutely...and they have risen up in self-defense.

The sole agenda of radical Muslims is to rescend the enlightenment. But if you want to know what I think...here it goes. The Nature of Islam is not pertinent...it is an abstraction. Islam is an ontological structure...and muslims are of necessity human beings not ontological structures. The more we believe that the true nature of islam is violent the less we should conflate Muslims with Islam. It is in my opinion a grave error to label violent muslims as faithfull to Islam. In stiring up fear of muslims via Islam we are giving strength to the worst aspects of a ghost. The only thing keeping muslims from becomming moderate is the perception Islam is in a civilizational clash/war. That Jihad requires rejection of Modernity and Europeaness. Jeez...if being a good muslim requires not becomming European, then why are all these folks not integrating?(Gee, Bob...I don’t know)

What we need to encourage are projects like Dubai and Kuwait City...and bringing Turkey into the EU upon acceptance of basic human rights. We need muslims to be successful...Even if this means allowing Muslim businesses to buy into the american and European economies. We need muslim role models that are not Bin Laden...we need to win in Iraq...and we need a muslim John Locke. We need Muslims to agree with the Pope. We need in essense to shift the perception of what it means to be a true muslim. We need to win the argument that is the opposite of the one you are making about the true nature of what it means to be a good muslim. If we don’t do this World War 2 will look like like childs play and no children hence forth will ever think of playing in a sandbox in innocent terms.

John Lewis, Anent #23, how do "we" do this, coming to Islam from outside of it? Is there any pattern for changing such a culture that is NOT colonial or as an occupying force? (Not that something entirely new is not possible, but...) I warm to this idea of yours, We need in essence to shift the perception of what it means to be a true Muslim. but do not see how that can be effected.


Isn’t the economic part of your equation already true? How are Muslims excluded from U.S. & EU economies?

Dan (#22 this time), when you said "The only time that the West has enjoyed a hiatus has been times when the West was overwhelmingly powerful, and possessed of the confidence to make short work of troublesome Muslims" are you suggesting the US is weak now? I would disagree. We are the only remaining superpower. As for the confidence, the problem is you, n’est pas?

The US has, for the past 6 years, conducted Foreign policy from a position of fear. I submit that this is the worst possible way; and it’s why we’re losing in Iraq. Tell me we’re not losing and then make that consistent with your statements about why we need to be there.

I can’t go on without repeating myself.

John Lewis, comment #23 will only be relevant if you presuppose that Christianity and Islam are the same in some fundamental way. I would argue that the West was able to modernize and experience the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution because of some fundamental aspect of Christianity which Islam does not contain. I believe it might have to do with the fact that the religion Jesus created was "a kingdom not of this earth" and therefore allowed folks like Machiavelli and Hobbes to creep in unmolested (for the most part, at least). Mohamed, however, established an actual pricipality complete with codified laws while he was on earth, thus making any abbrogation of the society he created a potential heresy.

My point is that it seems natural for Muslims to be inclined to look back at the 7th century as the "Golden Years" when their prophet walked the earth as one of them and thus shun modernity - from the West’s technological benefits to the civil liberties we enjoy.

I agree that more Dubais and Kuwait Cities would be a good thing, but only if their human nature over comes their religion. You seem to think that’s what happened in the West (we enjoyed the practical benefits of modernity and became lax with our religion), but I think the two religions are different. Hopefully the post is somewhat clear, I’m kind of in a hurry.

Some of the points raised would require a too lengthy response. But I can answer the query about whether I think we’re weak or not. We have all the means at our disposal to impose our will upon our enemies, and I don’t just mean in Iraq, or Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, S. Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. We don’t need any help, for these are 3d rate powers, amazingly brittle, which we could make short work of, without resorting to any of our nuclear arsenal. But there’s a problem, and the problem is want of will. We lack the spiritual confidence to impose that will. Our establishment can’t even bring themselves to brand the Iranian regime genocidal and supremacist. Let alone obliterate them from the face of the earth, and seize whatever nuclear facilities they may have. Our enemies are sensing our weakness, and scenting our blood. And they’re closing in on us, which will be made very apparent in about half a decade.

This is the Sitzkrieg, the main clinch is yet to come.

John is dead right that the Muslim resurgence demonstrates a war, a determination to overthrow the Enlightenment. It isn’t a coincidence that their hatred of Great Britain is almost as intense as their detestation of us.

Well Kate there are few things we could do. Unfortunately I forget the term that is now prefered to Jihad(I should have paid more attention to the brief...but most of them are crap..)...in any case the term that should be used translates in arabic as "thug" or "common lout" and is actually quite descriptive of a lot of the trouble in Iraq the middle east and even france(that is to say that for every religiously motivated attack there are 5 or 6 that are crimes of Chaos and opportunity.) The problem with the word Jihad...is that it is a term with positive connotations. Even moderate muslims support Jihad in theory. Jihad is almost the equivalent of our just war.

Christianity and Islam are similar and do share aspects...focusing and emphasizing these aspects doesn’t hurt. I agree with you that there seem to be large obstacles... but I suppose that in the middle ages there where similar obstacles within christianity. Within Christianity as it is within Islam it all depends on what you want to harp on...in other words how you want to "ontologize" it.

I am not a scholar of Islam...so I have no plan...but I think what I describe can be effected and will be...but only slowly and over time, and only if the rigid way of seeing people as ontologies looses ground. That is Muslims does not equal Islam. In other words it will only occur gradually as people come to partake in activities that are not ideologically/religiously charged.

The problem is that even what I am saying... and probably what I am saying is the most imprudent thing of all... I was being only partly cute when I refered to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape letters. I was hopeing to get more reaction to that...because in essence it is the Devil’s master plan...the entire idea of the progressive view of history...the more it gains traction and is voiced...the less likely muslims are to let down their guard. In other words the greatest obstacle to the proggressive view of history is voicing the proggressive view of history. I wasn’t trying to demonize the religious right or show my fears of it... what I wanted to do was to point out that the rhetoric that stirs the base the most is the suggestion that in some way people are loosing the old ideas, the old values, the old religious commitments. Now if you multiply these fears times 10 I think you have a good idea of how the muslim feels in modern Europe. I think the muslim looks at the christian(that he knows)...maybe he even knows more than the christian about the bible...and he thinks it is a christian society...but prostitution is legal...and he doesn’t know why...and he thinks to himself... will my children be lapsed muslims? Will enjoying the practical benefits of modernity make us lax with our religion like christians are? So this is I think THE question for the muslim in Europe. What compromises can he make without betraying his faith? In the end the answer has to be that you can be a good muslim and still be European...and you have to be able to make this case. So Ironically in order for the progressive view of history to come true it has to lose believers(interesting pun...but I mean that people have to no longer believe that it is true). I think that the pope understands all these complexities and more...he is a very smart man...and so I don’t think he was backing down...but he is walking a tightrope.

John Lewis, Muslim does equal Islam in that Muslim’s noun form is 1. A follower of the religion of Islam. or 2. adjective form Of or relating to Islam, its followers, or their culture. (OED) Yet, I suppose what you mean is that there are people groups, nations or races of people that are within Islam, whose ideologies or religion might change.

Perhaps it was the Pope’s Christian forbearance that led him to pray in a mosque.

Jihad is the struggle or war against unbelievers, which for Islam can be won by the sword with simple dominance, and does not always (depending on sect) have to be a thing of hearts and minds. The Crusades were a Christian version of jihad and Christianity has been trying to either excuse or justify those wars ever since. Anyway, jihad is exactly what is happening in Europe, even when violence is not in evidence. Even if you are right about Mr. Muslim in Europe, there is more to what he needs to effect in that culture than the issues of prostitution or drunkenness that a more faithful Christian might also wish to see made illegal, to protect his children.


I wondered what you were getting at with the reference to Screwtape.

Hum...I am unclear. When I say that Muslim does not equal Islam I mean that precisely in the obvious way. By definition a Muslim is a follower of Islam..yes of course... but definitions aren’t always reality...it is in the sense that a muslim is also something more than a follower of Islam. I am a soilder, I am somewhat libertarian, I am a semi-pro poker player, I am an amateur philosopher, I am the first born with five siblings...in short I am talking about everything that could be said to define a person(and thinking that being muslim is only a single aspect) Jihad while a specific term relating to islam is not outside of human nature. It is a natural reaction to feeling that what you stand for is under attack. It is thymotic. I don’t know what else I could say...Jihad has positive connotations within Islam...sure there is a spiritual struggle and an internal struggle in Europe right now and some of it boils over into violence. But just as there is plenty of scope for non-religious attributes...so there is plenty of scope for non-religious motivation for crime and violence...the thing of it is that human nature wants to justify actions...so a lot of the crime and violence is justified by making a religious appeal. As I said in another post...religion isn’t always the cause of wars...but it sure is a justification for them. Because people want to be thymotic...and for an action to be considered spirited in this way it has to appear to be done in a self-sacrificing way. So in my opinion there is a lot of crime and terror that is justified in the name of Islam as being Jihad...that in fact may have little to do with Jihad. Instead of over-exaggerating the amount of actual Jihad that occurs in Europe..we should under-appraise it. Try in every way to take away thymotic claims from Muslim violence. One way we can do this is by not calling the bad guys Jihadist. In other words we don’t want to have a Jihad on Jihad. Because true Jihad is by definition Just.

Let me put it another way... you say the crusades were a christian version of Jihad...okay...but if you are dealing with a people who believe that the crusades were just because they were Christian...then you should argue in the social science vein that in fact the crusades were not really christian...that there was little heroic about it...that is was motivated by X, Y and Z(come up with anything relating back to crude self-interest, political manipulation, posturing...you get the point.) In other words if you want to decrease Jihad...then kill the heroism of it...Pull the plug on the thymotic outlet. Call the terrorists something that translates into thugs, and brigands...emphasize that suicide bombers are often poor people and impressionable youths who are bribed by the promise of cash payments to familly. What I fear is that in our desire to be vigilant about the danger that is Islam...we are commiting some rather large tactical blunders as concerns human nature.

Does that make any sense?

Yes, I think I understand, but then, hasn’t Europe been ignoring Jihad in just they way you say for many years? I can not remember a time in my adult life when there were not Muslims in Europe and there was not concern because they were not assimilating. I have only recently been hearing about that non-assimilation as something of jihad in very recent years. Prior to that, it was just a matter of keeping a cultural identity, rather as you put it earlier, except when it was an expression of the PLO and other terror groups like that who "behaved badly" with bombings, kidnappings, and incidents as at the Munich Olympic Games. Perhaps you see Wahabism as a fad of the Islamic young, as the young have fads and think it may be no different than the obnoxious fads of your youth, only more dangerous, because violent?


How the heck do we Pull the plug on the thymotic outlet. if it is natural, (and I agree that it is, thumos, I mean,) simply by changing the terms that we, of the West, give the thing? Europe does ignore it, for the most part, hoping it will go away, and it has NOT gone away.

Also, I agree with you as to some motivation of the Crusades, except, honestly, to go so far and do all that they did, taking years and fortune to do it. It had to be for much more than simple self-interest. Unless, you might say the self-interest included the desire to eliminate previously accumulated sin and gain entry to Heaven, which is a self-interest of an eternal sort. There is more to this sort of thing for many people than self-interest, which I think you must know. Religion as justification, as you put it, but honestly, there is something more to it than that.


Which might bring us to the continuation of this in the discussion of individualism and the individual in the thread on the Mansfield article, above?

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