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Posts Tagged ‘benedict’

Religion of peace?

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2006

One thing’s become quite clear in the last few days: large portions of the worldwide Muslim community simply have no sense of irony.

The Pope quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor regarding Mohammed’s "command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," suggesting that Islam is not a very peaceful religion. Muslims the world over reacted by rioting, murdering a nun, calling for the Pope to be killed, burning churches, and demanding in outraged tones, "How dare you claim Islam is violent! For that, you must die!"

Events like these clearly call for a careful blend of thoughtful analysis and humor. Fortunately, Dean Barnett provided just the right mix in a post entitled FAQ – Islam Edition! Here are the first three of the twenty questions Barnett tackled:

1) Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

Well, um…No, not really.

2) So all Muslims are violent and bent on war. That’s a hateful and bigoted thing to say. You sicken me. And you’ll never carry Michigan.

That’s not what I said. You asked about Islam – I answered. You then erroneously inferred that I was speaking about all Muslims. I wasn’t. You misunderstood.

3) I don’t understand.

I know you don’t, and it’s not your fault. You’ve been poisoned by the forces of political correctness. You’re the product of a school system that valued sensitivity and self-esteem more than it valued truth and rational inquiry. As a consequence, truths which may be hurtful and disquieting will often flummox you. But you, and the legions of those like you, have to grow up.

Go read the rest. It’s a nice blend of truth and humor — not backslapping, yuck-it-up humor, mind you … it’s more grim than that. But it’s humor nonetheless, amidst some thoughtful observations.
UPDATE: Anne Applebaum at WaPo simply nails it:

Clearly, a handful of apologies and some random public debate — should the pope have said X, should the Danish prime minister have done Y — are ineffective and irrelevant: None of the radical clerics accepts Western apologies, and none of their radical followers reads the Western press. Instead, Western politicians, writers, thinkers and speakers should stop apologizing — and start uniting.

By this, I don’t mean that we all need to rush to defend or to analyze this particular sermon; I leave that to experts on Byzantine theology. But we can all unite in our support for freedom of speech — surely the pope is allowed to quote from medieval texts — and of the press. And we can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies and elderly nuns. By "we" I mean here the White House, the Vatican, the German Greens, the French Foreign Ministry, NATO, Greenpeace, Le Monde and Fox News — Western institutions of the left, the right and everything in between. True, these principles sound pretty elementary — "we’re pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence" — but in the days since the pope’s sermon, I don’t feel that I’ve heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus. A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice.

All of which is simply beside the point, since nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all. And maybe it’s time that it should: When Saudi Arabia publishes textbooks commanding good Wahhabi Muslims to "hate" Christians, Jews and non-Wahhabi Muslims, for example, why shouldn’t the Vatican, the Southern Baptists, Britain’s chief rabbi and the Council on American-Islamic Relations all condemn them — simultaneously?

Indeed, why shouldn’t they? Why haven’t they? Bravo, Anne! Thank you!

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