“Islam is not the problem,” proclaims the Left. And if you say otherwise, you’re a “racist,” even though “Muslim” is not a race. Yet a fact remains: virtually all the world’s terrorists today claim Islamic motivations. So if Islam (belief) is not the problem, are we then left with a genetic explanation for this violence? Is there something inherent in the groups generally embracing Islam — Arabs, Persians, Punjabis, etc. — that would account for it? And, hey, I’m just asking; it’s the liberals who profess ideas suggesting this possibility.
Consider: When analyzing WWII and Germany, few claim the problem was Germans, but Nazism. When looking at 1917 Russia, we don’t say the problem was Russians, but Marxism. So fill in the blank: when evaluating the Muslim world and its violence, do we assume the problem is the people or _____?
Then there are other explanations for Muslim violence, all of which amount to Islamsplainin’. Poverty is one, but the Muslim world is not uniquely poor. There are many millions of poor Catholics in South America, Africa and elsewhere; and hundreds of millions of poor Hindus in India. Yet they aren’t committing terrorist acts. And Osama bin Laden was worth $125 million.
Another excuse is U.S. “meddling” in Muslim nations’ affairs; our taking Israel’s side in the Mideast is always Exhibit A. But there’s simply no good correlation between American interventionism and Muslim violence. Many nations and regions, such as Nigeria, Kashmir, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali, have problems with Islamic terrorism in the absence of a Yankee hand.
In fact, it isn’t unusual for Muslim nations to occupy 8 spots on a list of the world’s 10 most dangerous countries (examples found here and here). It also isn’t unusual for a non-Muslim nation in the top 10 to be a country such as North Korea or Central African Republic, the latter of which is 15 percent Muslim. This is no surprise, mind you, if we’re to believe a comprehensive German study of 45,000 youths that was reported in 2010. It found that while increasing religiosity among the Christian youths made them less violent, increasing religiosity among the Muslim youths actually made them more violent.
When evaluating Islam and seeking to understand such phenomena, a simple but important point is never made. Christians may use as a guide for behavior, “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD); likewise, Muslims view Mohammed as a role model, considering him “the Perfect Man.” But there is a difference.
I’ve heard leftists diminish Jesus, saying things such as He wasn’t divine, He never existed, we don’t know anything about Him, He had brothers and that He was married. What I’ve never heard them say — it might have been uttered but is rare enough to have eluded my ears — is that He wasn’t a good man. This is why instead of condemning Jesus, un-Christian movements will often seek to co-opt His story for their own purposes, as the Nazis did with their so-called “Positive Christianity.” That’s how unassailable Jesus is as a model for behavior.
What of Mohammed? He was a warlord who launched close to 30 military campaigns, many of which he led himself. He was a caravan raider (a bandit) and captured, traded in and owned slaves (note: will liberals suggest slave-owning Mohammed be diminished, as they have sought to erase our founders’ memory?). He ordered massacres, used torture and had dissidents assassinated. He was a polygamist and made it lawful for masters to have sexual relations with their female captives. Mohammad also wasn’t very fond of dogs, an attitude begetting their mistreatment in the Islamic world (warning: last three links are disturbing).
One could quip here, if the dog is man’s best friend and Mohammad hated dogs, was he really part of the family of man? But, in fairness and as I’ll acknowledge, as with Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan or Tamerlane, Mohammad was largely a man of his time and place. And I’d be happy to let him rest in peace and put his memory to bed — except for one thing: more than a billion people worldwide won’t. This brings us to that seldom heard point.
If someone said Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan or Tamerlane was “the Perfect Man” and used him as his role model, would you turn your back on that person?
This factor’s significance cannot be overstated. It’s well known that a child’s role models — the examples set for him — are more significant than mere teaching; virtues (and vices) are caught more than they’re taught. This is also true with the “children of a larger growth.” Thus, when analyzing Islam, people may be overemphasizing Mohammad’s teachings and underemphasizing his example. Tell me who your role models are, and I’ll tell you who you are.
Note also that modeling after Mohammad isn’t just like admiration for George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, which would wisely be tempered with the knowledge that they were, like everyone else, humans with flaws. For there simply is no room for criticism of a “Perfect Man,” no way to say “Alright, I’ll take the good he did and run with it and ignore the bad.” If a perfect man does something, it cannot be bad. So if much of the Islamic world appears mired in a medieval mentality, it could be because they’re modeling after a medieval man.
Yet what mainly plagues us is not Muslims’ enslavement to misbegotten ideas, but our own. For example, many Westerners cannot open their minds to the possibility that any religion could be a destructive force because they’re in the grip of a destructive force themselves: Religious Equivalence Doctrine, which holds as dogma that all faiths are morally equal.
Some may say a solution to this is, as they put it, to “realize Islam is not a religion.” I hope these people will read the following with an open mind, because I believe this is a misguided notion that itself is dangerous.
The idea is thought to have utility: declassify Islam as a religion and rob it of First Amendment protection. Yet how much good would this do? The amendment also guarantees freedom of speech and allows even secular beliefs such as Nazism and Marxism to be promoted. All the proposal could really do is remove Islam’s tax-free status.
The idea is destructive, too, because it appears predicated on the assumption that a “religion” would have to be good or prescriptive of peace. (In reality, many if not most religions in history, such as that of the human-sacrificing Aztecs, don’t meet that standard.) Yet this notion strays mighty close to Religious Equivalence Doctrine, which is corruptive because since different faiths espouse different values, not all faiths can be equal unless all values are. This is moral relativism, which has some serious implications.
For example, what differentiates different ideologies is also that they espouse different values. Yet if all values were equal, we couldn’t say that conservatism was any better than Nazism or Marxism. We rightly don’t believe this, of course, and we should apply the same standard to “religion.” To wit: religion isn’t bad, but there is bad religion.
In other words, if we refuse to make qualitative distinctions among religions — any group of religions — it implies that qualitative differences among values or value sets don’t exist. This would mean tolerance could be no better than intolerance, Christianity no better than Islam, and good will toward men no better than jihad.
Delving deeper, however, the truth is that, in the most important sense, the secular/religious distinction is a false one. Consider: If God exists, is it more significant that we label belief in Him “religious” or that it’s true? If Marxism is essentially a lie, is it more significant that we label it “secular” or that it’s untrue? The most important distinction, the only one that really matters, is the true and the untrue.
(Note: because we’ve lost sight of this, our courts now essentially say that Christianity cannot be in government schools but Marxism can. Ponder that.)
In the final analysis, people believe things. Some of those things are good and some of those things are bad. Some awfully bad things are believed by a large number of people today. If we want to survive, we’d better recognize what those things are and who promotes them — and act accordingly.