Special to WorldTribune.com
The most difficult political and cultural debate since the decision of the Western alliance to destroy fascism in 1939 or the American decision to help resurrect Europe in 1945 has begun.
The discussion will be an intense examination of Islam and its role in the modern world.
It is an argument fraught with danger, not only for Islam, but for the democratic liberties of religion, free speech and economic well being of an increasingly interrelated world.
One could well argue that the debate is well underway, sotto voce. Certainly President Barack Hussein Obama’s Cairo speech was, if not the opening, one of the curtain raisers.
Obama, in essence, extended the hand of friendship to the Muslim world. As part and parcel of his message, he not only accepted responsibility as he saw it for past American aggression against the Muslim world. But he denigrated, in the eyes of most American and international historians, the unparalleled magnanimity of a rich and powerful U.S. since the end of World War II.
Even most Americans are unaware of the vast outpouring of U.S. resources, overwhelmingly private but official as well, which helped rehabilitate post-World War II Europe, and then went on to attempt, however unsuccessfully, the uplifting of what was then called “the third world” of poverty and ignorance in the pre-industrial societies.
But for many reasons – not the least the unrest produced by the beginning stirrings of modernity – the Arab and Muslim world beyond it went into a revolutionary period of upheaval and violence. It is a vast exaggeration to blame this movement from Dakar to Zamboanga on the decision of the Bush Administration to topple one of the most ruthless and cruel dictatorships the world has seen in Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Likewise, the Obama decision to abandon the Iraqis to their own machinations with the sudden and complete withdrawal of American power only added to the tumult.
What is basic to the argument is the very nature of Islam.
The continued repeating of the cliché that Islam is a religion of peace does not alter the fact that history proves otherwise.
The Arab acceptance of Mohammed’s preaching, according to their own and what other accounts we have, led immediately to warfare. Islam, first against Medina Jews who refused to accept Mohammed as the messiah, but thereafter, spread by the sword through the Middle East, crushing ancient Christian and other beliefs. Tenets from forced conversion to death for those who Muslim believers who reject the faith are still part and parcel of the Muslim ethic and in the hadith, the literature surrounding Mohammed’s life, times and values.
A complicating factor, of course, is that the fundamental Islamic concept that the Koran, the store of Muslim teaching, is the word of Allah, the supreme being.
Even though there has been historical research indicating at least some of the Koran predates Islam, that fundamental of the Muslim creed is basically different from both Christianity, Judaism and most other religions which accept even their holy writ as created by others.
Thus the cliché that all three religions are “Abrahamic” and based in “the book’ is erroneous as is the Muslim claim that at times sanctifies certain relationships with others ‘of the book”, such as marriage. From almost the beginning of Judaism, and certainly of Christianity, exegeses of sacred texts has continued, although at times considered heresy and punished. It was this tradition which eventually led Martin Luther to success in his Reformation of the medieval Catholic Church and its Catholic Counter-Reformation which produced modern Christianity..
Today no matter how much non-violent Muslims refute the accusations that the Islamic terrorists – a name Obama and his associates refuse to use – have their roots in Islam, there is considerable contradictory evidence. Furthermore, there is also evidence that in recent terrorist episodes in the U.S., family members or other Muslims had information about the preparation for these outrages but either were sympathetic or intimidated into remaining silent. Some traditional concepts continue unreformed; for example, that Muslims who lie to nonbelievers are excused from moral stigma if the deed can be ascribed to fostering the fortunes of Islam..
There are numerous spokesmen today calling for a “Muslim Reformation”. But they work at the margins of Islamic society and rarely have a foothold in the mosques, the halls of prayer, where unfortunately too much of the recent violence has been plotted.
Unquestionably, U.S. authorities responsible for the defense of the American people as their first and foremost responsibility, will have to monitor domestic Muslim circles for possible terrorists in hiding. They certainly will have to examine as carefully as possible new migrants where agents of the terrorists may well be entering the U.S. as they have Western Europe as they have been publicly instructed to do.
The bounds of this surveillance will have to be carefully monitored by human rights organizations. But if they are to assume that it is not necessary, as seems to be the case with the venerated but increasingly ideological National Association of Colored People [NAACP], then their role will not only restricted but useless. There are guidelines that might be adduced from the long fight against Communist penetration during The Cold War.
But there is no way that the necessary pursuit of terrorism can be avoided unless and until there is an administration in Washington which is willing to declare an all-out war and is successful in destroying their sanctuaries to reduce “the victories” of the Mideast terrorists which unfortunately continue to draw malcontents and deranged adherents.