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Monday, February 12, 2007

Searching for common ground.

In the February/March issue of Crisis magazine Brian Saint-Paul interviews author and former Crisis editor Dinesh D'Souaz on his most recent book 'The Enemy at Home:The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.' I was interested in the piece because D'Souaz talks about the difference between 'liberal Muslims' and Islamic terrorists. When I think about pacifism, I keep coming back to the terrorist question. Is there a peaceful response to suicide bombers? Could Christianity survive without taking up arms against aggressive Islamic fanatics? Where would Western civilization be if the Church had not risen up and formed Crusades against the Muslims who repeatedly attacked Christian cities? I believe as Nate over at Lamb/Dragon has stated that following Christ's example of peace is the only solution. However, it seems our country's leaders believe they are the next Joshua sent by God to root out the modern day Philistines. Because we have not followed Christ's example I wondered if we'd gotten ourselves into a position of kill or be killed; if our only choices had become martyrdom or another Crusade. D'Souaz's words give me some hope that perhaps there is a middle ground.
"The radical Muslim position is not that they want to take over the world and make everyone a Muslim. Nobody claims that. Rather, Muslims think they need to raise up to prevent the pernicious influence of American atheism and American culture from destroying traditional Islamic culture. This is why non-radical Muslims-who are the majority in the Islamic world-are so paralyzed. We keep asking,"Why don't they stand up and condemn the terrorist?" the fact is they would condemn the terrorist, but they're caught in the middle. On the one hand, they have a violent faction,which they dislike, acting in the name of Islam. But on the other, this violent faction is pointing to America as a pagan, depraved society, and the non-radicals largely agree and don't want to be seen defending that kind of society. That's why they keep their mouths shut." [snip]
"The Muslim world is divided between the radical Muslims and the traditional Muslims. Both groups are religiously and socially conservative. The main difference between the two is that the radicals support violence as a way of striking out against America, while traditional Muslims do not. However, the radicals have been very successful over the past decade in recruiting traditional Muslims into their ranks. So no long-term victory in the war on terrorism can work unless it finds a way to put a wedge between traditional Islam and radial Islam. " [snip]
"If you dismiss Islam as being inherently violent or say the Prophet Mohammed is the founder of terrorist, then you're pushing the traditional Muslims into the radical camp."
Crisis Vol 25 No. 2 pg 44-45

It is certainly interesting to think that those of us with conservative moral views could find something in common with traditional Muslims. My husband has a Muslim friend with whom he discusses these issues. Until I read this article I thought, that's nice but he's a minority liberal Muslim, like liberal cafeteria Catholics. Real Muslims believe in all the violence and sharia law so he doesn't represent what true Islam is all about. I see now, how that was the wrong impression. If what D'Souza writes is true, then in the eyes of the Muslims it is not Christian vs. Muslim, it is God's people vs the godless. As orthodox Catholics, as faithful Christians at-large, are we not fighting a similar battle? Our focus needs to be on working peacefully together with traditional Muslims against terrorism rather than lumping all Muslims together and infuriating them all. I'll admit, I still have my concerns. Horrible acts of violence are being done in the name of Allah and it will take a lot of faith on my part to believe that these atrocities are the acts of a few rather than a majority. I can't think of many Muslim countries in the world with glowing civil rights reviews. And please spare me the arguments of all the horrible things our country does and all the awful things the Church has done in the name of God. From where I'm sitting, I could blaspheme the Church publicly in every online chat room, join up with the fruity Episcopals and not fear persecution or death from my country or religious leaders. If those are not the consequences facing most women in an Islamic country, I want to know about it.
There is a peaceful solution, however unwilling people are to accept and embrace it, and D'Souza is on to something. I also believe that Archbishop Fulton Sheen offered some wise words on this topic as well. Pray that a common ground may be found.