Monday, October 03, 2005

Religion of Peace (cont.)

Mark Steyn has another fabulous rant:
I found myself behind a car in Vermont, in the US, the other day; it had a one-word bumper sticker with the injunction "COEXIST". It's one of those sentiments beloved of Western progressives, one designed principally to flatter their sense of moral superiority. The C was the Islamic crescent, the O was the hippie peace sign, the X was the Star of David and the T was the Christian cross. Very nice, hard to argue with. But the reality is, it's the first of those symbols that has a problem with coexistence. Take the crescent out of the equation and you wouldn't need a bumper sticker at all. Indeed, coexistence is what the Islamists are at war with; or, if you prefer, pluralism, the idea that different groups can rub along together within the same general neighbourhood. There are many trouble spots across the world but, as a general rule, even if one gives no more than a cursory glance at the foreign pages, it's easy to guess at least one of the sides: Muslims v Jews in Palestine, Muslims v Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims v Christians in Nigeria, Muslims v Buddhists in southern Thailand, Muslims v (your team here). Whatever one's views of the merits on a case by case basis, the ubiquitousness of one team is a fact. . . .

The reality is that there are more Muslim states than a half-century ago, many more Muslims within non-Muslim states, and many more of those Muslims are radicalised and fundamentalist. It's not hard to understand. All you have to do is take them at their word. As Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at Gottingen University in Germany, said in an interesting speech a few months after September 11, "Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or House of Islam -- to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace."

That's why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they'll keep blowing it up. It's not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It's about a world where everything other than Islamism lies inruins.


Bizarro Jack said...

This is not a fabulous rant. I think he would have to acknowledge some history from outside this century for this rant to really be fabulous. Yeah yeah right now, Islam has a much bigger problem with peace. Without any explanation of how he thinks the spanish inquisition or colonialism in the 19th century is different, it doesn't seem particularly worthwhile.

I'd go a little furhter with my criticism, but I'm making allowances for the fact that Islam does have a huge problem right now, and it is worth writing about.

There are readers seeing this and thinking that their religion or philosophical faction is immune, and that's terrible. Maybe the author feels the same way, but I'm not going to put any words in his mouth, at this time.

Also, there is no acknowledgement that not every muslim would agree with him.

Anonymous said...


Some of your criticism is fair but please keep in mind that Steyn is a columnist dealing with a limited amount of column space to push his arguments. Some of his past work does deal with the history of this before this century- such as Ottomans at the gates of Vienna and that whole jihad thing of the 7th and 8th centuries not to mention the Army of the Mahidi in 19th Century Sudan.

I guess your point about the Counter-Reformation, Inquisition, imperialism and all could be well-taken but so what? Those movements are spent forces. It’s possible those forces could revive and plunge the world into a blood bath but the odds of that in our life times are well… somewhat remote. I don’t remember my minister this past Sunday or anyone on TV looking for recruits to go on a Crusade or to go pop some Catholics- that’s not the case in parts of the Muslim world

Steyn’s point is that there is a strain within the Islamic faith that has tapped into the “peaceful” aspects of the Koran and jihadist history of Islam and is intent on finishing the job. You are right also that not every Muslim would agree with all of this but this militant Islamism was the rising force in the pre-9/11 Muslim world and enjoys still enjoys a great deal of support, not to mention the Shi’ite fanatics in Iran and Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden’s precept of the “strong horse” was based on this.

The murderous history of the 20th Century has shown the incredible mayhem a small band of psychopathic fanatics motivated by ideology and bent on using violence can do. Think of how much support the Nazis, Khmer Rouge, or Bolsheviks enjoyed 5 years before they all came to power. None of those 3 had nuclear weapons, the potential to gain control of a big chunk of the world’s oil supply, or such a finely tuned sense of holy war as Al Queda either has or could have.

Reading the history of 1938, I always wondered what would have happened if Munich fell apart and Hitler did invade Czechoslovakia (assuming the coup by the German officer corps wouldn’t have gone off) There probably would have been war and my guess is that the Germans would have lost. How would have Chamberlain been viewed? As someone who did the dirty work that had to be done or as a butcher who killed tens of thousands in a needless war that can be averted by meeting the German’s “legitimate” territorial demands? None would have known about the bloodbath that would have been averted in Europe and tens of millions spared – all would have known the costs of that small war though.

All of us hate paying insurance- but we hate what happens when we don’t pay it, we end up with a bill for damages many times more than the largest insurance premium


Anonymous said...

every human being is capable of creating their own ideology. every human being has the capacity for evil. there have been many killers and tyrants in the history of human existance, it is a part of this world we live in. there will always be wrong doing and those who critisize and blame others for this fact. i hear and see so much bitterness toward islam, that is coming from those very people who think they believe in coexistance. it is easy to blame islam. it is easy to generalise. to become bitter and dicriminated against those we believe are responsible, but then arent we guilty of the same thing we are accusing others of?? distrupting coexistance...? we are all capable of evil, it is something that is uniform in every human being, reguardless of religion or race. so putting religion asside, we have these people (called terrorists) who are unfortunately misguided about their identity and their place in the world, every relgion or organisation has the capability of becoming like this, and are consiquently harming others. there are many killers in the world, it just so happens that these individuals (i dont use this term lightly) have found a way of doing it that attracts attention and have consiquently marked their religion as to make it a symbol of fear. their method of killing is just less discrete to wat would normally go on in the world. it is not an issue of relgion!! all i have been taught of islam has been that it is peaceful and their ppl are dedicated to worshing god through prayer and lifestyle. the ppl responsible for these horrific acts are simply human, and those muslim who arent are now victims. i have very dear friends who are these such ppl. they are some of the nicest people i know yet they are continually harrassed, and their religion ( which is so very important and critical to them ) is mocked. all because of a few misguided human beings, which there have been many of in many different religions in our history.