Russell and Duenes

Islam Terror: Treating a Brain Tumor with Aspirin

with 2 comments

A doctor who treats persistent headaches caused by brain tumors with aspirin will not escape malpractice suits for long. If any moderate Islam project is to succeed, it will only do so by identifying the elements in Islam that give rise to violence and terrorism, and working in whatever way possible to change Muslims’ understanding of those elements so that jihadist recruiters can no longer convince young men to join them by appealing to their desire to live our “pure Islam.”

So says Robert Spencer, author of The Truth about Muhammad, Islam Unveiled, Religion of Peace?, Stealth Jihad, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, and other books on Islam. When George W. Bush claimed that Islam is “a religion of peace,” he was simply one in a long line of Westerners who believe that “true Islam” is a peaceful, tolerant, and open religion that has simply been “hijacked” by a small cadre of terrorists who have misinterpreted what “true Islam” teaches. And as evidence of this, we point to the overwhelming number of Muslims who have no desire for violence at all, and who, like most people, want to live peaceful lives with their families and communities. The problem, however, is that this vast number of peace-desiring Muslims in the world have little ability, and seem to possess little desire, to offer any serious critique, flowing from Islamic teachings themselves, of the terrorist’s view of “true Islam.”

One of my friends recently pointed to the violence in Northern Ireland as evidence of an equivalency between “Christian violence” and “Muslim violence.” Yet this assumes that the so-called “Christian terrorists” in Northern Ireland were appealing to their Christianity and to Christian Scriptural texts in order to justify their wicked acts. But they weren’t. The violence in Northern Ireland, while going by the popular name of Protestant vs. Catholic, really had more to do with ethno-national conflict than anything pertaining to Christianity. As Walker Connor has noted in his wonderful book, Ethnonationalism, “contrary to the typical account, the people of Northern Ireland do not uniformly consider themselves Irish” (p.44-45). Thus, the point of conflict is primarily between those who consider themselves Irish and those who don’t, with the religious element being rather extraneous to the violence. As Walker importantly concludes, “That the religious issue is largely extraneous helps account for the fact that the consistent urging of tolerance by all but a handful of religious leaders has gone unheeded.” (p.45) Did you catch that? “All but a handful of religious leaders,” meaning, Christians, were urging tolerance. Yet there is no comparable urging against terrorist violence in the name of Islam going on by Muslims leaders today. Why not?

Spencer points out, “To say that the problem is within Islam is not to say that every Muslim is the problem. As we have seen, many who identify themselves as Muslims have only a glancing acquaintance with and interest in what Islam teaches.” Yes, this is my experience. All of the Muslims I have known are wonderful people, friends, and have had no interest whatsoever in any kind of terrorist violence. But they are also Muslims who never read the Koran, never go to Mosque, do not follow the five pillars of Islam, and have no ability or inclination to speak out or write in any capacity against terror committed in the name of Islam.

Spencer once again puts his finger on the matter when he says: “[The] notion that [every religious tradition is equally capable of giving rise to violence] would have a lot more credibility if Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were writing articles defending the stoning of adulterers (as did Switzerland-based Muslim writer Hani Ramadan, who published an article in the French journal Le Monde in September 2002 doing just that), or calling for the killing of blasphemers (blasphemy is a capital offense in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world), or flying airplanes into iconic buildings of those they considered enemies. That evangelical Christians do not commit these acts is one clear indication that not all ‘fundamentalisms’ are equivalent…The frequency and commonality of such acts of violence – and how close they are to each religion’s mainstream – is determined to a great degree by the actual teachings of each religion.” I am a Christian, but I am not quoting Spencer here in order to cheerlead for the moral superiority of Christians per se. I am quoting Spencer as truthful here because, Christian or not, these are the facts on the ground.

Indeed, intellectual honesty requires one to admit that there is simply no significant, or even insignificant, portion of people who go by the name Christian or Jew today who commit, justify, or acquiesce to violence done in the name of Jesus or the Bible. Thus, without even raising the issue of the theological naivete behind the argument that “the Bible also justifies violence,” the plain fact is, even if it did so in the way that its critics claim, virtually no one in our world is justifying violence on the basis of the teachings in the Bible. So whether one is religious or not, one needs to make this distinction if one is going to engage the problems of violence and oppression that are coming with speed to the West. As Bernard Lewis counsels, “Wake up!”



Written by Michael Duenes

August 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

2 Responses

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  1. It is hard to take seriously the “problems of violence and oppression that are coming with speed to the West” while American drones stalk over three Middle Eastern countries. Perhaps I am blind to the Red Scare…I mean Stealth Jihad.


    August 16, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    • Evan – Point well taken. But how about if we take them both seriously. Must we take only one of them seriously? Or is only one of them a problem? Can we even talk about it, or is it impertinent to bring it up? Can we make intelligent distinctions, and discuss the relationship between the teachings of Islam and U.S. foreign policy, or do we just wave it all off by submitting notions of “moral equivalency” or “we’re no better than them?” That’s a nice way to end discussion of the substantive issues, I admit, but to what end? You don’t appear to have refuted any of my assertions, but just dismissed them. I’m for seriously confronting our use of predator drones, so what about it? You threw it out there, so what do you propose the Obama Administration should do?


      russell and duenes

      August 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

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