Sunday, March 12, 2006

Is Islam Compatible With Democracy? II

Last week I ran a post on whether Islam was compatible with democracy - based on a lecture that Ann Althouse attended. The answer was a tentative yes, depending on whether a suitable model could be found in which was religious law was housed outside the apparatus of the state.

Today, war supporter David Warren deals with the same question in his review of the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and the answer he comes up with is far less sure.

Last week we ran a post on whether Islam was compatible with democracy - based on a lecture that Ann Althouse attended. The answer was a tentative yes, depending on whether a suitable model could be found in which was religious law was housed outside the apparatus of the state.

Today, war supporter David Warren deals with the same question in his review of the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and the answer he comes up with is far less sure.

Mr Bush was staking his bet on the assumption that the Islamists were not speaking for Islam; that the world’s Muslims long for modernity; that they are themselves repelled by the violence of the terrorists; that, most significantly, Islam is in its nature a religion that can be “internalized”, like the world’s other great religions, and that the traditional Islamic aspiration to conjoin worldly political with otherworldly spiritual authority had somehow gone away. It didn’t help that Mr Bush took for his advisers on the nature of Islam, the paid operatives of Washington’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, the happyface pseudo-scholar Karen Armstrong, or the profoundly learned but terminally vain Bernard Lewis. Each, in a different way, assured him that Islam and modernity were potentially compatible.

The question, “But what if they are not?” was never seriously raised, because it could not be raised behind the mud curtain of political correctness that has descended over the Western academy and intelligentsia. The idea that others see the world in a way that is not only incompatible with, but utterly opposed to, the way we see it, is the thorn ever-present in the rose bushes of multiculturalism. “Ideas have consequences”, and the idea that Islam imagines itself in a fundamental, physical conflict with everything outside of itself, is an idea with which people in the contemporary West are morally and intellectually incapable of coming to terms. Hence our continuing surprise at everything from bar-bombings in Bali, to riots in France, to the Danish cartoon apoplexy.

My own views on the issue have been aloof. More precisely, they have been infected with cowardice. I am so “post-modern” myself that I, too, find it almost impossible to think through the corollaries from our world’s hardest fact. And that fact is: the post-Christian West is out of its depth with Islam.


I've been made to confront the fact that I also had a Hegelian sense that the outcome to the Iraq War would more likely be progress, as opposed to leading to corrosive, ongoing chaos. Although I always saw the overall confrontation as a very long one, indeed, like the Cold War. But it seemed to me far more likely that there would be a positive than a negative outcome, though I recognized it as a gamble.

Cliff May notes one of the many factors keeping us from victory, which was unclear to many people before the war began, which is related to the efficacy of the propaganda war:
In a conventional war, if one side has tanks, fighter jets, submarines and similar weapons, while the other side does not, who wins? The answer is obvious.

In an unconventional war, if one side has suicide bombers, license to kidnap, torture and violate the laws of war while the other side must refrain from deploying such weapons and abide by all the rules, who wins? The answer, I'm afraid, may be equally obvious.


The West is now in a funny position. If it decides not to yield on any of its internal values in order to be true to itself in this confrontation, it may very well lose the wider war; which will make it that much more difficult to be true to its values.

But most of the representative organs, such as the media and the academy, etc, continue their myopia in face of what could easily be at stake: namely the freedom of the West, uncensored, in the future.

Not to mention that both the media and the academy seem unable to understand the extent to which they have been consciously propagandized, starting with the USSR, by a system that still uses the same yardstick to measure things.

Physllis Chesler has more on propaganda in the universities now and in the past.
In the war of civilizations that is upon us: Dare to argue for military as well as humanitarian and educational intervention and you will be slandered as a "racist," even when you are arguing for the lives and dignity of brown, black and olive-skinned people. Such cultural relativism is perhaps the greatest failing of the western academic and media establishments.

If we, as Americans, want to continue the struggle for women's and humanity's global freedom, we can no longer allow ourselves to remain inactive, cowed by outdated left and European views of colonial-era racism that are meant to trump and silence concerns about gender, religion and culture.

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