For the last two articles in this series, we have been rushing in where angels fear to tread. We have discussed the explosive question of what's racism and bigotry, why it's wrong, and what does and does not qualify to be condemned with those words.
This is an urgent and pressing matter, because modern America is riven with increasing strife between people who are unable to tolerate any criticism on the one hand, or any opposing views on the other. It's not possible to operate a democracy this way, much less one which is advertised as "E Pluribus Unum" - Out of Many, One. We need to go back to first principles and carefully think through our positions on a rational basis.
Thus far, we have discussed how American liberties ought to apply to actions which, while they may be harmful to whoever does them, don't directly hurt anybody else.
And by "hurt," we mean clear, demonstrable physical hurt. Our modern fetish for protecting hurt feelings is the very opposite of free speech. Nobody has the right to not have their feelings hurt by rude or offensive words from somebody else - yes, even here in the comments section at Scragged - as long as that's as far as it goes.
Christians picket against abortion clinics, condemning it for the murder it is. As long as they restrict their expressions to words, no matter how strident, they have every right to proclaim their opinion.
The moment some nut takes up arms to slaughter abortionists, though, we'd all agree that religious liberty does not apply, and the murder of an abortionist should be prosecuted and condemned as the murderer he is.
In reality, religious liberty took a bad hit much earlier, when someone argued that abortionists should be killed extrajudicially. This argument, by itself, isn't murder - but incitement to violence is its own prosecutable crime, as it ought to be.
Traditional Christianity condemns lots of things, but for hundreds of years mainstream Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, has also opposed attempting to enforce God's laws by force. You're welcome to blow off all the church's teachings if you like, and today most Americans, even members of churches, do.
When a church is directly advocating violence against our fellow Americans, though, it ceases to be a church and becomes a criminal conspiracy.
If Rev. Phelps and the members of his Westboro Baptist Church were going around firebombing homosexual gathering places, does anyone doubt they'd be instantly locked up for life? And does any serious person doubt that 99.9999% of other devout professing Christians would stand and applaud as the criminals were hauled off to prison?
Decades ago, the KKK cloaked itself in Christianity while lynching innocent black men. We all agree that was evil, and if any "church" tried that today, they'd rightly be harshly punished. Again, all America would approve.
We say that in America, we have freedom of religion - but that's not total freedom. As George W. Bush memorably though clumsily put it:
There ought to be limits to freedom.
- President George W. Bush
In fact, there are. You have the right to free speech and press, but can be held liable for slander and libel. You have the right to bear arms, but are punished if you misuse those arms. And you have the right to the free exercise of religion, but not if, by so doing, you infringe someone else's rights by force.
And that is why we say that Islam is not a religion under the meaning of the Constitution: Unlike every other religion we tolerate in America, and there are some wacky ones, Islam rejects your personal right to reject Islam and its teachings.
You can reject the teachings of Protestantism, and Protestants will pray for you, but they won't kill you.
You can reject Catholicism, and the Pope might excommunicate you, but that's just words. Nobody will actually do anything to you.
But if you reject the teachings of Mohammed - well, let's look at what ISIS has been doing in the name of their religion to Christians:
“Convert to Islam, and no harm will befall you,” the narrator said, “but if you refuse, you will have to pay the jizya tax
The video depicted Christians in the recently captured western Syrian town of Qaryatayn being forced to choose between converting to Islam or signing a “dhimma” contract pledging to pay a jizya tax and be subservient to ISIS.
Signing a "dhimma" contract doesn't sound so bad, but if you actually read the thing instead of just checking the "I accept" box, you'll see that it directly forbids the practice of the tenets of the Christian religion under penalty of death. Christians aren't gaining anything from their submission but a short stay of their execution.
And, of course, Islam's treatments of homosexuals, adulterers, and other such libertines is far harsher than even the most strict Christian sect demands. Virtually every American liberty, ancient and modern, is contradicted by the Koran.
Does this mean we're bigoted against Muslims? No.
In fact, it is not possible to be bigoted against Islam, as it is possible to be bigoted against every other religion.
How can that be? Let's conclude with the definition of "bigot":
Bigot (n): a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group) [emphasis added]
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
What's unfair about disliking people who want to kill you? Nothing.
What's unfair about wanting to protect ourselves from adherents of a belief system that opposes the liberties our ancestors fought and died for? Nothing.
Was it possible to be bigoted against Nazis? No: they really were a threat to everything that's good, and it wouldn't be possible to be a loyal American and not hate everything Hitler preached.
Today, the Third Reich is no more, and its handful of remnants pose no significant threat. In their place, though, we have a thousand-year-old opponent of all that the West has stood for since the Reformation if not before.
It's time we said so loud and clear, and started acting like it. Why can't our ruling elites admit that violent jihad is evil? And how many more innocent Americans must die before we all recognize that, though Americans don't necessarily much like each other, we don't want each other dead?
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.