Hearts of Darkness - Conclusion

A new name for the War on Terror.

This series began by pointing out that our irreligious ruling elites are ill-equipped to understand religiously-motivated people of any kind.  An op-ed in the Washington Post written by a professor who is also a Roman Catholic priest pointed out that our leadership elites tend to have no real understanding of faith, which is, after all, the defining characteristic of any religion.

It's not that we don't know about religion; it's that we don't understand faith and its life-shaping power.

Since most Western religious people are law-abiding, this doesn't matter all that much except when politicians run for office and try to pander to religious folks without understanding them.  In what's been misnamed the "War on Terror," however, our leaders' collective blind spot is going to get us in trouble.

How can anyone who doesn't even believe in God understand how to deal with another person who not only believes in God, but acts on what he believes God commands him to do?  How can we "negotiate" with people who are utterly convinced that Allah requires them to either convert us all to Islam, by force if necessary, or blow us up?

It is beyond our power to magically impart understanding of the power of faith to shape someone's life to our atheistic leaders; we can't help them with their #1 problem in fighting terrorism.  We'll just have to hope that whomever is actually carrying out combat against the enemy on the ground is able to understand them and their tactics as well as General Petraeus understood them.

What's more important is that we as voters clearly understand what we're up against.  We are not fighting a country, a nation, or even a charismatic leader.  We are fighting an apocalyptic ideology, based on the Koran, which inspires and has inspired horrific and inhuman deeds from countless thousands of devotees over a millennium.

What's more, beyond the frighteningly large number of Islamic militants who are willing to perform inhuman horrors to honor what they see as the commands of their evil god, there is a far larger group of millions upon millions of worshipers of Allah who, while they would not personally risk their own lives in terrorist acts, are nevertheless in sympathy with those who do.

As we've seen, this inhumanity is not caused by poverty or ignorance; it is the natural and logical consequence of the specific religious teachings found in the Koran, as written by the Prophet Muhammad and interpreted by his followers over the centuries.

Other religions have perpetrated atrocities in past eras, but without exception, the world's other great religions have reached a point of cultural evolution where barbaric acts by their adherents are immediately, resoundingly, and overwhelmingly condemned by the majority of their co-religionists.  Islam alone has not reached this point because the doctrines which impel barbarism are fundamental and inherent to the religion as currently taught and practiced.

Until such time as Muslims decide for themselves that a Reformation is necessary, as all other major world religions have long since done, the practice of Islam itself must be looked on with deep concern.  This is not to say that moderate Muslims are our enemies as Osama bin Laden is - on the contrary, the Muslim equivalents of Martin Luther, St. Francis of Assisi, John Calvin, Roger Williams, and other dissidents from orthodoxy are to be welcomed with cheers.

Until such time as Muslims themselves work out the problems with their own religion, however, it is foolhardy in the extreme to welcome the barbaric precepts of that religion or those who believe in it into civilized communities that would like to remain that way.

We've noted earlier that religious conversion experiences can change a person's way of life, and we all know about John Walker Lindh the "American Taliban" and Richard Reid the "Shoe Bomber", ordinary and undistinguished Western young men who converted to Islam and turned into monsters.  Islam, and therefore terrorism, is contagious!  Why would we want to voluntarily welcome immigration of its adherents?

As for what to call the war, we'll shortly get to a suggestion for that, as we had a suggestion for defining terrorism.  "Clash of Civilizations" would be accurate except that bin Ladenist Islam is uncivilized.  As Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pointed out, Islam needs a Renaissance and Reformation, as the Catholic church experienced, in order to become civilized. There's only one civilization involved in this struggle, and contrary to the ignorant opinions of many on the left, that would be our side.

Defining War Down

Around the time of the first stirrings of Reformation in the Catholic Church, the Pope attempted to get rulers to agree on rules that would limit the damage of war.  People tried to agree on what a "just war" was so that they wouldn't fight unjust wars.

Over the centuries following, there have been countless discussions how to minimize damage to noncombatants such as women and children, although such niceties have regularly been ignored by the good side as well as the bad.  During WWII, for instance, bombers tried to obliterate civilian-packed cities such as London, Warsaw, Berlin, and Dresden.

In the main, however, the existence of humanitarian limits to the inherent violence of war, even irregular war, is acknowledged by all major nations and religions - except for fundamentalist Islam which recognizes no limits to the violence that must be done to please Allah.

An Islamic Reformation should take the hard edges off of militant Islam.  We can't bring about a Reformation for them, they must do it for themselves, but it would help if our leaders understood religion enough to encourage moves in the right direction.

In the meantime, we have to recognize that they think completely differently from us, their core values and beliefs are fundamentally different on the essential points that underlie all of Western thought - so much so that even Westerners who reject God, the Bible, and religion still base a major fraction of their thinking on cultural underpinnings founded on Christian thought.  Famously anti-religious authors such as Christopher Hitchens base their arguments on the principles of logic which were derived from Christianity, and the laws of repeatable, consistent science founded on the belief in an orderly, predictable God who "does not play dice with the universe."

Despite the glee with which Western atheists attack Christianity, it's impossible to avoid noticing that those literary attackers live and work in nominally Christian countries without fear for their lives, whereas even in those countries, they are afraid to attack Islam with the same vitriol because the vengeful hand of angry Muslims effectively reaches onto the streets of the West - to say nothing of actually living in Muslim lands and attacking Islam in any way.  Obviously, there's orders of magnitude of difference in tolerance between every other religion in the world, particularly Christianity, and Islam.

The differences between Islam and Western culture are so glaring and stark that it shouldn't even be necessary to have to explain them.  Somehow, though, we are having trouble properly and effectively pursuing this war because we don't have the confidence the Islamofascists do that our way is right.

Our leaders suffer from moral equivalence, which is an idea claiming that nobody's religion, beliefs, or thoughts are better than anybody else's.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as a handful of leaders are beginning to recognize.  Shortly after 9-11, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said:

We should be conscious of the superiority of our civilization, which consists of a value system that has given people widespread prosperity in those countries that embrace it, and guarantees respect for human rights and religion... This respect certainly does not exist in the Islamic countries.

Disgracefully, rather than applauding his perceptiveness, other world leaders pilloried him for "insensitivity;" some European leaders even seem to believe that Islamic law being accepted in Europe is "inevitable."  If our irreligious elites don't think that our civilization deserves to win, how can they possibly lead us to win?

Most Americans instinctively know that the idea that Islamic terrorism is equivalent to democracy is utterly wrong, but they don't know how to articulate it for fear of being labeled bigots.  But if name-calling is the worst price paid to preserve our liberties, we've gotten off cheap.  We at Scragged, echoing Patrick Henry, say "If opposing Islam be bigotry, let us make the most of it!"

The Name of the War

We now return to our original question: what should we call the war in which we find ourselves?  Well, the first runner-up has a certain appeal.  "War Against Sharia" is descriptive and it allows us to define arguments for imposing Islamic sharia law in the US as treason, just as promoting Nazism was defined as treason during WW II.

If we declare a "War against Sharia," we can disallow immigration by adherents of sharia, symbolized most vividly by burkhas.  Could anyone wear a swastika in public in the United States during WW II?  Of course not.  Would anyone wear a burkha in America during a war on Sharia?  If they did, we could be pretty sure they weren't on our side, and deal with them briskly accordingly.

"War Against Sharia" is descriptive, but although the vast majority of modern terrorists are Muslims, the Basque terrorists are not at all interested in imposing sharia.  Furthermore, President Barack Hussein Obama has declared that the war on terror is over, so it's no longer a war on anything.

However, there is another option.  We have confidence that Americans are able to grasp the idea that sharia law, which imposes chopping off of hands for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing a rape victim because she was sitting in a cafe with a male who was not related to her, is barbaric.

Thus, our proposed term: the "Fight Against Barbarism."  It's not a full-scale war; bin Laden's minions are not numerous and organized enough to mount a war like the Nazis or the old Soviet Union, and let's hope they never are.  It's not a clash of civilizations because neither Basque nor Islamic (or any other) terrorists who place bombs with the specific intention of injuring civilians are civilized, by definition.

What we are currently engaged in should be called by its proper name: the Fight Against Barbarism (FAB for short).  That simple phrase tells us everything you need to know about what we are doing and why; and, indeed, it allows our rhetoric to be appropriate.

In fighting inhuman barbarism, is it not perfectly true that "If you are not with us, you are against us"?  Civilization must be defended against uncivilized attackers; the fall of Rome to the Visigoths and Vandals is generally considered a Bad Thing, and a more spirited defense is what the times called for.

Rome had offered the benefits of civilization to millions for hundreds of years; it was probably difficult for an average Roman to imagine that it could really end.  But end it did, because they weren't willing to fight for it when push came to shove.

Are we wiser or more determined than they?  Only time will tell.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
I disagree with several specific details of this series, but on the whole I think you've defined the parameters of the issue well.
January 30, 2009 7:49 PM
Please, Inibo, be specific about where you disagree. YOU COULD BE RIGHT, we could be wrong, but if you don't share your insights, we'll remain wrong.

Thanks.
January 30, 2009 10:10 PM
I was afraid you were going to ask that. :) I'll have to go back and review the, but what stands out in my mind is in an earlier segment you mentioned that most suicide terrorism is religiously motivated. Though I have not read the book myself, I have heard that Robert Pape, in his book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," indicates that "The world's leading practitioners of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka-a secular, Marxist-Leninist group drawn from Hindu families" and "Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland." The quotes are taken from the entry on his book at amazon.com

This, of course, does not lessen the threat of Islamic terrorism, but along with Michael Scheuer's assertion that our foreign policy--unqualified support for Israel and the support of unpopular oppressive regimes in place like Egypt and Pakistan--contributes to the popular appeal of Islamic radicals and enables them to exploit discontent much like organizations like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground did in the 60s.

Perhaps I am naive, but I suspect most Muslims are like everyone else in that lacking constant reminders of their perceived impotence they would be more concerned with living their daily lives, providing for their families, tryign to make a better life for themselves and their posterity, and they would reject the Bin Ladens of the world as dangerous sociopaths as long as they were able to pursue their everyday lives in peace. Maybe if we had not killed or displaced who knows how many thousand Iraqis and weren't dropping bombs on weddings in Afghanistan the radicals would not be, as Mao said "fish swimming in a sea of peasants."

I also take exception to your reference to "Islamofascists." That is about the most meaningless term I've ever seen. Fascism is a specific political system denoting a merging of state political power with corporate economic control. Fascism is a uniquely Western ideology requiring a relatively advanced economic, technological and political system. I agree with the term barbarism when applied to radical Islam. Perhaps "Islamobarbarism" or "Islamobarbarian" would be a better term if one thinks such sloganeering and marketing ploys are needed.

I do agree with you, though, that there is definitely an ideological struggle being waged, if not by the West, at least against it. I believe multiculturalism and the fear of offending the sensibilities of various "aggrieved" groups is a weakness, not just against radical Islam, but against the tribalism of many groups who have not be inculcated with or have abandoned Western idea like the rule of law and small "r" republican values.

In this struggle I fear Europe is tottering on the brink and may represent the future of the United States if we abandon our own revolutionary understanding of natural rights and commitment to individual liberty in the face of rampant democracy and the consolidation of political power in a strong central government.

I actually like your concept of a "War against Sharia" and disallowing "immigration by adherents of sharia, symbolized most vividly by burkhas." Where I think we may disagree is in where that "war" should be waged. I don't think we can defeat sharia in Afghanistan or Somalia. From my perspective I couldn't care less about how people in Afghanistan or Somalia live. If they cannot assert themselves against thuggery, they deserve what they get. The West did not have its renaissance and reformation because some outside power "liberated" it, we progressed there by our own efforts, after long and bloody internal struggles.

Our efforts should be on inoculating ourselves against barbarism by fostering our own civilization instead of dismantling it and making it clear such thinking is not welcome here, not in the form of radical Islam, democratic tribalism or any other ideology that diminishes individual sovereignty to the benefit of some nebulous collective "good."
January 30, 2009 11:19 PM
In reviewing what I just wrote I realize my need for an editor, and that it rambles a bit, but I hope I got my point across.
January 30, 2009 11:24 PM
Couple of thoughts here. I'm not familiar with Robert Pape's book either, but if your characterization of his opinions are accurate, he's flat-out wrong. There is no sane reason to believe that bin Laden would cease attacks on the West if we pulled out of Arabia (where, in most cases, we are present by the request of the host governments) and every reason to believe otherwise. I can't speak to the Tamil Tigers, but I note that they are specifically involved in a civil war which is something of a special case - the Basques would probably think of themselves in the same way.

Regarding Islamofascism, you correctly defined fascism as political system denoting a merging of state political power with corporate economic control. Is that not, in fact, perfectly true of Sharia law, with the added component of religion? Certainly Iran is a fascist state, under the guise of religion; the only difference is that the Ayatollah claims to report to Allah instead of everything stopping with him as with the Fuhrer.

I do completely agree with your closing paragraph though: we must foster our own civilization, and make it crystal clear that the advocacy of barbarism is not legitimate freedom of speech.

Marketing ploys and slogans ought not to be needed; the evil that is Islam should by now be painfully obvious to every Westerner. For some bizarre reason, it isn't, so apparently more effective marketing is required. All we can do is try harder...
January 30, 2009 11:36 PM
It wasn't my intention to critique this series. On a philosophical level I found it to be very informative in framing the inherent conflict between the West and fundamentalism in all its forms. It helped me crystallize my own vague pondering of what is a very difficult problem: How can a free society deal with those who are opposed to freedom. I spent most of my youth and much of my adult life despising my Western heritage. It is only in the dawning of my decrepitude that I recognize the value of what we seem to be abandoning.
January 30, 2009 11:54 PM
This is a sobering speech, given in NYC by a Dutch lawmaker, who has produced a chilling movie on the dangers of "Islamization." The link to the movie is in the article.

"America as the last man standing," speech by Geert Wilders_

http://www.cicentre.com/articles/gw_america_last_man_standing.html

Use google re "geert Wilders"

The web believes that he made a movie and that he is in jail. If anyone can verify or refute any of this, please make a post.
February 1, 2009 1:39 PM
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