Andrew Bostom has recently published a deferential yet hard hitting article which challenges the eminent and revered Mideast scholar, Bernard Lewis, regarding the strange head fake Lewis and many Mideast scholars give on the virulent anti-Semitism and virulence against Christians and infidels generally as found in the Koran and in the actions of Mideastern based Islamic leadership. There is an interesting comment to the article. Interesting because I think it is a succinct presentation of the “anti-alarmist” position taken by those who shrug off current Islamic violence and promised violence against Jews and Christians as being typical of the story of mankind’s inhumanity to mankind as aided and abetted in the guise of religion generally.
Let me just post one current fact to set the stage for the discussion. Since the “liberation” of Iraq Christians have been hounded, persecuted, their daughters kidnapped, their churches destroyed until their numbers have been decimated. For a register of the continuing brutality against non-Muslims in the Ummah and its peripheries see Raymond Ibrahim’s site.
Here is a presentation of the post.
Take a look at our own Christian history. Take a look at Charlemagne. He was a great military conqueror, and channeled this talent into the service of the church. He took over most of Western Europe and a fair bit of the east, he used military force to compel all his subject peoples to become Christian. What about the Inquisition? Torturing Muslims just because they were Muslims.
The Spanish in the New World destroyed temples to make their churches. “Christian nations have warred on each other non-stop, enslaved, booted out Jews and Muslims. So has Islam. There’s been little to choose from in history.”
Not only have Christian nations warred against each other, Islamic nations have warred against one another. It is basically a story of culturally oppressing those they have militarily conquered and asserting their own cultural superiority and dominance.
“In what empire have the vanquished not been second class citizens? People do not war on each other or enslave one another because of ideology or religion. Rather they often use these as an excuse to simply war, rape and steal, when prevented from preying on their own.”
“The Ottomans militarily subjugated all areas of the Muslim world formerly dominated by Arab Islam they could. That was not a friendly act against their ostensibly fellow Muslims. Timurlane (sic), reportedly a devout Muslim, defeated Bayezid at the Battle of Ankara, Bayezid defeated a Christian coalition at the Battle of Nicopolis before that. It’s a half dozen of one and six of the other.”
“People do not war on each other or enslave one another because of ideology or religion. Rather they often use these as an excuse to simply war, rape and steal, when prevented from preying on their own.“
The implication is that what we are dealing with is really just a story of man’s inhumanity to man and religion is used to aid and abet and justify mankind’s lust for power and domination.
“Naturally the empire builders culturally oppress those they have militarily conquered and assert their own cultural superiority and dominance.”
“The Jews and Christians are in the bull’s-eye of parts of Islamic culture because they represent the formerly vanquished, and Islam itself is based on events that cannot be separated from military conquest. Of course laws which manage conquered populations will figure prominently in such a culture.”
The post goes on to claim that the alarmist position is also absurd because the Islamic world has neither the power not the ideological cache to pose any real threat to Western nations.
There are basically three components to this anti-alarmist line of “reasoning”.
(1) The you-too component, (2) it’s just basically man’s inhumanity to man under the cover of religion, (3) historically there is nothing to choose between Islam and Christianity in terms of violence.
(1) It has always puzzled me why the “you-too”, “who are you to talk” has any force at all regarding the subject at issue. Regardless of who does the accusation, the action(s) in reference is reprehensible or not own its own terms. The accuser does not, mirabile dictu, somehow change the action(s). Fine. I’m no one to talk. But what I’m talking about? How does that register? The claim that current Islam persecution of religious minorities and recruiting children and adults into suicide bombing schools to maim and butcher infidels is reprehensible, stands or falls regardless of who makes such a claim.
(2) Even if it is just man’s inhumanity to man under the cover of religion, it does not follow that such inhumanity is not to be condemned. Under the guise of religion or not, people who call themselves Muslims are to be condemned for their actions. Moreover, that religion is not itself the motivating factor, when leader after leader of the Muslim world from the ayatollahs to the political leaders claim to the contrary openly and repeatedly, makes the burden of proof on those that claim that religion is just a cover.
(3) Look at the history? Ok. Western cultures have evolved. Which takes us to the here and now. That Islam and its leaders are so far removed from the current presentation and actions of current world religions, from Christianity to Hinduism, is precisely the issue. There is no Muslim leader, political or religious, that claims that Muslims are free to pick and choose what parts of the Koran they choose to follow. Islam has not evolved. That is the issue.
There is, of course, consolation in the anti-alarmist, Numanesque position. The “Oh there is no difference between them and the rest of us” frame of mind implies that there is no need to get excited and apprehensive - much less get into a defensive us-vs.-them mode. Relax, just give them time and consideration and they will come around. Of course it is possible that accommodation will temper Islamic leaders in their rhetoric and actions against non-Islamic nations, peoples and cultures. But until then why gloss over their obvious and continuing inexcusable horrors that are being perpetrated in the name of Islam?