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Controversy Reaching Danish Cartoon Level?--Rat Choice Theory, Part 6

Here’s a particularly fine analysis of the misunderstanding that has provoked such outrage over the Pope’s speech in the Muslim world. But the truth of the matter is that "If he’s having a go at anything, it’s not Islam, it’s the patronizing notion...that religion is incompatible with independent thought." The author adds that there’s a real critique of Islamic conception of God "tucked away in the text" that is meant, in fact, to provoke the most fundamental kind of theological dialogue. So far it’s mostly been ignored.

Discussions - 11 Comments

To the extent the conception of God and his commandments (as transmitted literally, word for word, by the Prophet in the Koran) are held by Muslims to be completely beyond any human notion of reason, the Pope will not succeed in establishing any fruitful dialogue. However, the effect of his remarks was to lay emphasis on the evil and inhuman character of using violence to further faith. This creates a degree of moral clarity for those in the West, and moves beyond the notion of a "war on terror," i.e., a war against a technique of war, to the idea that what is to be fought is the evil of using violence to force compliance with a particular worldview, in this case a religion. This would link resistance to such violence to the previous fights against the totalitarian ideologies of the bloody 20th century.

The True Face of "Moderate" Islam:

They’ll stone you for drawing them cartoons

They’ll stone you for saying they are goons

They’ll stone you if you support the Pope

They’ll stone you if you call Muhammad dope

But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned.

Lots of smart people now saying the Pope made a mistake. I, for reasons I won’t go into here other than to say, READ THE SPEECH, disagree. Okay, I can’t resist--the basic reason: the Pope and the other bishops of the church have always had the primary responsibilities of 1) preaching Christianity, which means in part to preach its superiority to other beliefs, and 2) to define what is heretical. That is, it is the Pope’s JOB to make the distinctions b/t Christianity and Islam clear--nor is his office in any way defined by what world opinion, or American Republicans, see as his proper role in the world. He is not Bono nor the head of another NGO.

But even if the Pope made a mistake, the "lots of smart people" I refer to are not being smart in one respect. The time for criticism of the Pope’s comments on STRATEGIC grounds, i.e., "this will piss off Muslims against the West’s interests," was SOLELY PRIOR to the reports of massive Muslim reactions. To criticize the Pope after the fact is in fact to lend support to calls for him to apologize, which is to lend support to future instances of MUSLIM PRESSURE against Westerners simply speaking their minds. Athiests, skeptics, liberals, neo-cons, Christian haters of the Christian right, Catholic dislikers of Benedict, if you love liberty, you will decline from publicly criticizing the Pope on this. All of us in the West have ZERO strategic interest in making the Pope look bad for what he said.

The Telegraph article is excellent and the Muslim world and the Western press generally overlook three key elements of the Popes speech.

First, he was repeating a quote that is half a millinium old (or older). The Pope could apologize for using the quote, or he could apologize on behalf of the long dead 14th century Byzantine emperor who made it, or the pope could deny that Mohammed’s command "to spread by the sword the faith" is "evil and inhuman." The first two apologetic courses of action change neither the content nor the context of the quote, nor the fact that it was made and exists. To do the third would go against the basic tenets of the Catholic faith and "the Christian way of looking at faith and reason."

Secondly, although there may be various passages in the Koran and the practices of Islam that contravene the notion that Islam universally condones "conversion by the sword," the fact is that this is the aspect of Islamic fundamentalism so prominently on display recently in the forced converison of two members of the press as a condition of their release from captivity cannot be overlooked. The Muslim community apparently is not taking issue with the practice of "conversion by the sword," but rather that someone (five hundred years ago) characterized it as "evil and inhuman" and that this is taken to be aligned with current Vatican thinking - otherwise, why use the quote.

Finally, "conversion by the sword" is evil and inhuman and the Pope has every right to characterize it as such, even if that may not be very politic in the current religous climate. Hopefully this is a pricipal on which he will stand firm - apologize if he gave offense, but stand behind the principle he was expressing.

Now here is a real statement from teh Vatican on Islam, that I made in 1095:

"Oh, race of Franks, race from across the mountains, race beloved and chosen by God, - as is clear from many of your works,- set apart from all other nations by the situation of your country as well as by your Catholic faith and the honor which you render to the holy Church: to you our discourse is addressed, and for you our exhortations are intended. We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to your country, for it is the imminent peril threatening you and all the faithful which has brought us hither.

From the confines of Jerusalem and from the city of Constantinople a grievous report has gone forth and has -repeatedly been brought to our ears; namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race wholly alienated from God, `a generation that set not their heart aright and whose spirit was not steadfast with God,’ violently invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by pillage and fire. They have led away ap art of the captives into their own country, and a part have they have killed by cruel tortures. They have either destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of their own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness....The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and has been deprived of territory so vast in extent that it could be traversed in two months’ time.

"On whom, therefore, is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you, you upon whom, above all other nations, God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the heads of those who resist you ? Let the deeds of your ancestors encourage you and incite your minds to manly achievements:-the greatness of King Charlemagne, and of his son Louis, and of your other monarchs, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the Turks and have extended the sway of Church over lands previously possessed by the pagan. Let the holy sepulcher of our Lord and Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially arouse you, and the holy places which are now treated, with ignominy and irreverently polluted with the filth of the unclean. Oh, most valiant soldiers and descendants of invincible ancestors, do not degenerate; our progenitors., but recall the valor of your progenitors.

Actually, I made that statement at Clermont...

My above post is too stark, and somewhat unclear. I simply mean that once Muslim pressure for curtailment of or renunication of Islam-critical speech begins, and its primary mode is violence or the implicit threat of violence, then it behooves Westerners to say, however we might have acted differently, than the Pope, than the Danish cartoonists, than whoever it will be in the future, that we back their right to say this and are repulsed by the histrionic and threatening protests against it. With the Pope, of course, the issue is not free speech as much as it is the speech proper to his office, but the principle remains basically the same. Quietly criticize he who treads too heavily upon Islam with his speech, but whenever his remarks are used as the match to light Islamic fury, refuse to make the slightest suggestion that he is to blame for what occurs. We must refuse to treat Muslims as crazy people who are too tender to hear certain things. We must not give the many fanatics among them the impression that they may use our highly-developed sensitivities about multi-cultural dignity for their own purposes of squelching dissent, of defending the honor of their religion against anyone in the world whose comments can be interpreted as insulting it. Let the craven among us bow to their blasphemy codes after they have taken over the world, not before.

BTW, the Pope’s expression today of regrets for offense taken at a misinterpretation of his remarks, and his added stress upon what the church finds praiseworthy in Islam, is most welcome, although many in the MSM will label it as an "apology."

Can’t help but recall what the Palestinians did inside the chapel at Bethlehem, to one of the most holy sites in all of Christianity. They spread excrement all over the walls, INSIDE the chapel. They slept and defecated inside as well.

In short, other than hold a black mass, they did all they could to defile the holy site of the birth place of the Christ.

That’s what they did, and they did it all on television, before the face of the whole world, and not one, not one major authority within islam rebuked them for their satanic actions. Not one.

No muslim rebuked them during the sacrilege, and no muslim rebuked them thereafter.

So in the 21st century, we saw muslims, without hindrance or rebuke, doing those exact same things that Urban complained of over a thousand years ago.

Just an observation, some food for thought.

Can someone clarify if the Pope said that violence was incompatible with the nature of God? I think I read that in the news’ accounts of his speech, but know they are pretty unrealiable (about everything factual). If he did say this, it seems, well strange. How does he explain away the old testament when God was smiting all kinds of people?

Wasn’t that God?

I don’t think that’s what the Pope meant or said, but somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

The Pope as I see it can speak his mind any damn time he wants too. Just who in the hell are these "Allahites"? If you are offended............tough! Live with it.

I’m frankly sick and tired of these of these piggish c*********s carping and keening everytime some Westerner calls them for what they are.

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