Saturday, September 23, 2006

Jewish News Column

Here is this week's column from the Jewish News

We Have Become Hostage To Our Desire To Appease

Thursday 21st of September 2006

President Bush stated it directly: This is a war for civilisation. Pope Benedict, indirectly, allowed radical Islam to prove Bush’s point.

What the Pope was speaking about was the need for reason and reasonableness; if “First there was the word,” then religion needs to stand on the word and not the sword. We only have to look to failed Islamic states such as Afghanistan under the Taliban or present day Iran under the Mullahs to prove his point. If Islam is as pure and true as the radicals preach it, why then, in the free marketplace of ideas is nobody buying what they are selling? Any philosophy or theology that props itself on the sword and uses it as a crutch cannot stand on its own.

These great mujahideen warriors are a little thin skinned if they can’t handle an obscure fourteenth century Byzantine ruler. The radicalised Islamo-Fascits, like most school-yard bullies, can dish it out but can’t take it.

What may have embarrassed Muslims is that the Pope’s quote is not only historical, but contemporary. Only last month two kidnapped Fox News journalists in the Gaza Strip were converted to Islam at gunpoint. In response to the Pope’s words a nun is murdered in Somalia, churches burned and attacked in Gaza –nothing new.

The irony is that the Pope’s speech was an indictment not on Islam, but on Western Hellenic traditions; modernist thought that cannot understand that Christianity has a place in the university setting; that a belief in God is rational and reasonable; and just as science has a place in religion (the embracing of truth) so must religion have its place within academic disciplines.

The Pope’s remarks illustrated the failings of both Islam and the West.

Here in the West we show our own lack of reason. The arguments focusing not on the truly disproportionate response by Muslims, but on what the pope said –and like the Muslims, we too have not bothered to read his words before passing judgement. We are a country so ignorant that we protests against paediatricians instead of paedophiles. If not unreasonable, we in the West have sadly lost our capacity for reason.

As Melanie Philips pointed out in her book Londonistan, our problems started in 1989 when Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses. This was a significant episode; a minority group (who were rightly offended) challenged our cherished rights of free speech. Calls for the murder of a British citizen went unanswered and the response of our government was weak. Our laws were thrown aside to appease a minority group. We caved in.

The Rushdie affair was the first crack in our value system. It is now alarmingly being repeated over cartoons and now this.

Members of the defunct al-Mahajiroun picket outside Westminster Cathedral with signs reading, “Jesus is the slave of Allah” and “Islam will conquer Rome.” As with the Danish cartoon protests the police stood by, not wanting to inflame the situation; the reality: they are scared to act to enforce the laws of the land.

If we stood outside a mosque and questioned Mohammed’s claim to be a prophet, we would be arrested for breeching the peace.

Tolerance should not tolerate intolerance. To affront is part of our democratic tradition. To incite hatred or stifle free speech by threat is not.


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