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Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

Location of Ground Zero Mosque

Obama, like former President Bush, defends the religious freedom for Muslim Americans to insult the rest of us, just as he is willing to defend the honor of Islam itself.  But this is an unpopular stance.  Most Americans have heard the anti-American cheers, seen the strange practices, and become fed up with the murderous triumphalism of Muslims worldwide.

Obama this week weighed in on the propriety of the Cordoba Housea, a large Mosque planned within blocks of the former World Trade Center.  It is called by some a Victory Mosque, not least because it is large, garish, and intended to open on September 11, 2011.  Barack Hussein Obama is siding with Muslims against the Christian majority of Americans in a typically haughty way.  Worse, to do so, he is willing to sketch a false history of America, where Islam was part of our national fabric from its earliest days.

Islam is, in fact, a very recent import, a consequence of the 1965 immigration reform, which favored Third Worlders over Europeans. And the consequences of that change have included periodic acts of terrorism, culminating in the 9/11 attacks, but also including the Nigerian Christmas bombing, the murder of Army recruiters in Arkansas, various “honor killings,” and a number of other foiled attacks.

This Victory Mosque is a middle finger to Americans.  It is a statement of triumphalism by an expansionist, violent religion that is so different from Christianity, that the religious freedom of its believers must be severely restricted, just as the freedom of cults to commit mass suicide, practice polygamy, or smoke Peyote is also restricted.

The Reality of Islam

Obama, Bush, and Mayor Bloomberg all err in treating Islam like any other religion.  While it is a religion, it is a special type; it is both universal (like Christianity) and fully comprehensive in its directives (like Judaism).  It offers a complete way of life for those under its domain, and unlike traditional Judaism, does not exempt non-believers from the vast majority of its detailed directives.  Indeed, for Islam, legislation itself is seen as a God-task, and they believe that Sharia is God-given perfect legislation, that no one is really free without Sharia, and that the destiny of all mankind is to flourish under Sharia.

Obviously, Sharia has little in common with Western ideals of freedom, self-government, and dissenssus, but we continue to delude ourselves that these people’s beliefs will fit in somewhere nicely between Methodists and Presbyterians.

Islam, further, counsels various types of violence against non-believers who resist Muslim expansion, disrespect the Prophet, or otherwise run afoul of its directives.  Since so many Americans would do so without even trying, Islam is not compatible with our way of life.  Recall, for example, that Said Qutb, intellectual grandfather of the Muslim Brotherhood was deeply offended by a church dance in 1940s Colorado.  This was not exactly Times Square circa 1975!

Both Bush and Obama misunderstand Islam for different reasons.  As a religious but sentimental man, Bush saw all religion as a positive for the individual’s moral life, but didn’t really understand the content of other religions very well, as he came from the anti-intellectual evangelical tradition.  As a political man with an identity crisis, Obama, by contrast, sees all religion as identitarian and political, and is pro or con based on whether the group involved claims to be oppressed by the West, but he does not take any religion’s particulars very seriously as theological matters.

I take Islam quite seriously on its own terms and imagine those who believe it do too.  I also am not a “chicken little.” I know most Muslims probably get from Islam what everyone else gets from their religious traditions:  a sense of the eternal, the sacred, human connectedness, the God-given aspects of right and wrong, the importance of decency, etc.  I imagine, like Christianity, Islam gives solace in death, a sense of importance in life’s milestones, and conveys the need for charity.  The difference is that Islam has built into it, and non-negotiably, a specific code. The more serious a Muslim is, the more he understands the necessity of imposing this code as directed by the Koran.

The often used Reformation analogy is inapt.  Hopeful writers argue that Christianity was violent and illiberal prior to the Reformation, and that we’re OK now, and Islam will be too, after it changes its ways in the same manner we have.  Besides having the history quite wrong–the so-called Reformation ushered in a century of European blood-letting–there cannot be a reformation that makes Islam more like modern Christianity, because the past of Islam is as violent as the present.  There, in fact, have been many reformations in Islam, including Wahhabism.  None of these “back to basics” movements involved a rejection of Islam’s total role in the believer’s and nonbelievers’ lives.  To excise Sharia from Islam would be like excising the Gospels from Christianity.  We must conclude that while there are good individual Muslims, they are good only insofar as they ignore or reject large parts of Islam.

The Unlikelihood of Assimilation

What people really want (and in the case of Obama, expect) is for Muslims not to take their religions so seriously, just as Christianity declined in influence the aftermath of the 17th Century’s brutal religious wars.  But there is no reason to think this shift will come from Islam itself.  In Europe, this movement found its roots in shared Christian ideas regarding the conscience.  In other words, to separate Church and State did not do violence to basic Christian teachings.  In Islam, to denigrate the role of religion in the arena of legislation would involve various blasphemies, a downgrading of religion, and a limitation of government power that does not comport with the totalistic nature of Sharia.

While I believe America’s religiosity, tolerance, economic opportunities, and limited numbers have contained the power of Muslims in our country, nonetheless, introducing them to this alien soil was a mistake and continuing to do so increases our collective endangerment.  This has been particularly apparent from the experience of Europe, where Muslims are more numerous, more radical, and substantially more aggressive than they are here.

Some legal basis should be found to stop the Victory Mosque, including a recognition that freedom of religion does not include the freedom of certain religions to conspire against the republic and threaten violence on non-believers.  These are essential aspects of most variants of Islam contra the happy clappy Religion of Peace talk from Bush and Obama and other elites.  Longer term, however, we must recognize that the false “freedom” of open borders is hurting the actual freedoms and inherited way of life of ordinary Americans.

The Freedom to Preserve Our Way of Life

The existence of individually good and decent Muslim American does not change the fact that the au courant restraints on our freedoms that we now endure are a direct consequence of the recent introduction of Muslims into country made up largely of European Christians.  Ours is a country accustomed to an historical balance of liberty and order based, in part, on the loyalty and fellow feeling of the vast majority of Americans. We are now searched at airports, eavesdropped on by the FBI, forced to pay for long foreign wars, and reluctant to “offend the Prophet,” all in the name of the counterfeit “freedom” to have aliens from the Third World living alongside of us.

It does not offend freedom to keep foreigners out of our country, any more than it infringes on natural liberty if I have walls around my home to keep out strangers. Real lovers of liberty should see that our freedoms depend upon restricting immigration of cultural aliens, particularly Muslims. If not, we will have the human rights’ equivalent of Gresham’s Law: the false freedom of open borders will replace all of the actual, historical freedoms we’ve come to cherish such as free travel, physical safety, privacy, free speech, artistic freedom, nonviolence in politics, and the rule of law.

There is an essential relationship between liberty and community. A community with a sense of collective identity, mutual interest, and trust can afford a substantial realm of freedom within its confines. Enemies in the gates, however, generate a climate of uncertainty, insecurity, and, ultimately, the suffocation of liberty. This occurs as people rationally conclude that the government’s first duty to provide order is threatened by the combination of dangerous interlopers taking advantage of freedoms that evolved under more peaceful and trusting conditions for the benefit of more peaceful and trustworthy people.

Obama does not feel loyal to this traditional American community, which he regards as racist, overly exclusive, and mean-spirited.   In conflicts between that (mostly white and Christian) majority and minority interests, he routinely sides with the latter, even though this is politically costly.  For him, this reaction is a long-cultivated instinct, just as his defense of Professor Gates against an ordinary Cambridge cop was quite natural and authentic.  Obama can’t help himself in these cases.  He is from the multicultural branch of leftism and wants to “keep it real” and not “sell out.” At best he feels sorry for the primitive, prejudiced New Yorkers who dare, in a very nonviolent and American way, say that enough is enough. 

But I feel contempt for Obama in return. 

These New Yorkers are good people, relatives in many cases of our murdered countrymen, and their patriotism and pride of place are far more admirable and pro-social than any of the corrosive, Marxist, black power trash that Obama believes.  Is it any wonder that the President who went to a Church that cheered 9/11 as our just punishment–“chickens coming home to roost”–wants to bring the insult of this event to its apotheosis?

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One interesting phenomenon of our times is that the old-fashioned view that one may act on the basis of sincere belief has been hammered out of existence.  We don’t even say, “I think” or “I believe” anymore.  It’s “I feel.”

When a Muslim Pakistani tries to blow up Times Square, the establishment immediately search for an explanation in something demented about his individual psychology:  his economic circumstances, personality, and social relations.  The news media say, literally, “Motive a Mystery.”  Really?  But what of his beliefs?  His religion?  His ideas?   These real motives escape notice.  This can’t be the actual reason.  Such events can happen a million more times, but, for the liberal observer, the cause still must be found in individual psychology and possibly by something our evil society did.  It’s Rousseau on depressants.  Mayor Bloomberg and Contessa Brewer were both sad to find out the perpetrator was a Muslim.  Not because they are Muslims, but because the sincere, believing conservatives and Christians in their midst, those whose apparent motivation is sincere belief, find encouragement for their non-materialist worldview when men like Faisal Shazad rear their heads.  Genuine, religious conservatives understand and can explain their mirror-image opponents, the Muslims, with greater fidelity than the liberal who thinks all human action derives from the individual and his psychological impulses.

And why this assumption by the liberal?  I suspect it’s because their stated ideas–concern for the poor, a belief in social justice–are not what motivate those who talk this way; their beliefs are a thin veneer that do not explain their real drivers, an inner psychology made up of a will to pleasure and power coupled with half-thoughts such as guilty feelings about privilege, unease with inequality (including their own), fear of death (and therefore terror at suffering), and discomfort with the world in general.  Ideas and their explanatory power are denied entry into his mental universe by a thorough-going materialist nihilism.  “That’s just, like, your opinion man!”

For him, man is just a sophisticated ape, a mere bundle of atoms, impulses, and instincts.  Ideas don’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense in this world, because this world is defined by an all encompassing meta-idea that says every alleged idea is the mere epiphenomenon of some material cause:  thanatos, id, primitive group identity, or the residue of an abusive childhood.  Real ideas don’t exist as ideas to such people, and thus they can’t imagine they really exist for others.   So the ideas that actually explain things–that men are not really equal, that there is real evil in the world, that all people can’t live together peaceably so long as their ideas are in conflict, that the material explanation is incomplete–are immediately rejected, disappearing like idealist antimatter coliding with the materialist pseudoreality of existence.

There are many glaring gaps of illogic for the materialist; under this worldview, real human connection becomes impossible.  It becomes impossible because the highest connection, the search for truth, cannot occur under such circumstances.  Real truth is not considered to be intelligible, and this single simulacrum of a philosophical idea alone is allowed to exist.  The humane bridge between men of reason and thought and discussion can’t be allowed.  Sex and pleasure and distraction assume disproportionate significance, as these intense and also human experiences allow in a limited way the connection erased by the anti-philosophical materialism.  Villains who dare to expose these inconsistencies must be punished and psychopathologized.  And thus the Muslim is just treated like an alien force–a “human-caused catastrophe,” inexplicable through the perpetrator’s beliefs and ideas.  The more well known and hated idealism of native conservatives and Christians must be rejected with the greatest possible vigor.  Such men, unlike the foriegn Muslim, might actually persuade your fellows and retake control of the world wrought by the liberal revolution.

For the liberal anti-culture, the stated beliefs of the conservative are more familiar and more seductive.  There is almost no chance your daughter would go off to Harvard and become a Muslim fundamentalist.  On the other hand, she may become gripped by a conservative or Christian impulse, dissatisfied at some point in your life–perhaps when barren–by the false promises of feminism and materialism and nihilism.  And thus those who might lead her this way, are hated, rejected, and minimized by psychological reductionism.

For the man of ideas, the terrorist’s motives are obvious:  he thinks what he is doing is right, he believes God wants him to do it, he thinks those against whom he is striking are evil, and he is read and deduced this from the Koran which he takes to be divine revelation.  And this forthright and clear explanation, an explanation with predictive power, actually disempowers the terrorist more than the patronizing willful ignorance of liberals, whose entire worldview is threatened more by the acknowledgment of ideas (any ideas) than the conservative is by the violent expression of false ideas by the Muslim.  The false idea can be argued against or suppressed by force barring that.  For the liberal materialist, to acknowledge that anyone is sincerely motivated by ideas would expose the poverty of his own worldview.

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