The U.S seems to have a foreign policy that believes that by calling an international conflict by names that satisfy our interests and that are congruent with our values, we can change the reality of that conflict.
For example, after the World Trade Center was bombed, we went to war against “El Qaida” and “Islamic extremism.”
We are loosing this war. There are probably hundreds of “Ben Laden’s” around the world and “Islamic extremism” is even more determined and pervasive than before – as shown in the recent arrest of a young kid who committed himself to the jihadist movement and tried to blow up a building on Wall Street. These spontaneous Muslim fundamentalist believers are bankrupting the U.S. and the Western world along with it.
Our definition of the conflict with Islam isn’t even true! We aren’t fighting “El Qaida” or “Muslim extremism.” We are fighting a historical and thoroughly reasonable interpretation of the Koran.
The Koran commands its followers to convert the world to Islam, and if necessary by force.
This commandment is similar to the New Testament commandment where Jesus commands his followers to convert the world: Every head shall bow and every knee profess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The only difference between the two approaches to conversion is that the Koran encourages hate and murder and the New Testament commands love and charity. Christian evangelists sing, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” In the first 400 years of Christian evangelism, conversion was mainly inspired by love, charity, and martyrdom. In the first 400 years of Muslim evangelism, conversion was mainly inspired by military conquest and forced conversions.
St. Francis suggested that we: “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.” As in the first 400 years CE, the historical method Christian evangelists have tried to convert the world is by charity (mainly hospitals, food programs, and schools), preaching, and by giving an example of loving God and loving one another. There have been numerous exceptions to this mode of conversion — that is, forced conversions — but even those have often been accompanied by authentic acts of charity.
There’s a difference between Mother Theresa and the bombers of the World Trade Center.
Of course, moral and cultural relativists argue that no one can really tell the difference between love and hate. Logical positivists and others argue that there is no philosophical way we can tell the moral difference between chopping a journalist’s head off and and opening a hospital for the poorest of the poor (many who treat patients who are of other religions).
The war against Islam isn’t a religious war. It isn’t a war of Islam versus Christianity or Islam versus Judaism. It’s really a war of Islam against humanist secularism. It’s a war against the Koran and the progress the world has made towards creating more civilized societies. It’s a war against Jesus’ commandment to “Give onto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give onto God what is God’s.” That is, it’s a war against the separate the church and state. It’s a war against letting the enlightened politicians work out laws for the secular society and letting the enlightened religious leaders work out theology.
Here are some of the real enemies of the anti-civilization interpretation of Islam (enemies who Mohammed was against in his day and many Muslim countries are still against):
- religious freedom
- religious toleration
- woman’s liberation
- free speech
- free press
- universal education
- authentic philosophy
- the arts
- free-enterprise (including usury)
- and on and on.
The fight for the above ideas and cultural practices took thousands of years to evolve, with much “red of tooth and claw,” that is, much human pain, sacrifice and suffering. For example 50 million people were killed in World War II, with one of its goals to defeat anti-Semitism. Yet many Muslim countries are trying to revive anti-Semitism. Citizens of Western civilization are never going to give up the progress in civilization they have accomplished so that they can submit to Allah, the Koran, and the Imams. And the Muslim fundamentalists may not give up their belief in violent jihad anytime soon.
Thus the fight between believers in an fundamentalist, anti-civilization interpretation of the Koran and the believers in modern civilization may go on hundreds of years.
And military warfare and nation building may not be the best strategy to fight against these enemies of civilization.