Saturday, May 12, 2007

When Truth Becomes Totalitarian

Nearly every religion that has ever existed believes that it has the ultimate truth. Jihadism, however, is another in a long line of religions that indicate how that claim can go very wrong when it forgets that people have a right to choose what they believe the truth to be.

You probably didn't know that there exists a dramatic controversy as to whether the truth of Islam should be a requirement for everyone. Since perhaps the 1970's, when Middle Eastern Studies departments of various universities became co-opted by easy money from those who didn't want the truth to get out, it's been very difficult to see the juxtaposition of moderate Muslims with radical Muslims.

Why do you never (at least seldom) hear moderate Muslims speak out against Jihadist Islam? Because the radical Muslims cannot afford to have you know that there is a controversy. They cannot have you know two realities:

1. That radical Islam seeks the subjugation of all peoples, and that it will not be content simply for the United States military to leave Middle Eastern soil. Claims to the contrary are simply convenient smoke screens.

2. That moderate Islam seeks liberty, freedom of choice, and democratic representation for people of all religions.

This is why it is so important, as I have written recently, to "Free the Film".

Jihadists claim to be under attack everywhere--not just by the United States. Radical Muslims attack nearly everywhere as well--not just against the United States. But more importantly, radical Muslims claim to be under attack from Muslims who disagree with them. Their most concentrated and methodical attack, therefore, must be against moderate Muslims who do not agree with them. They claim, therefore, that not all those who claim to be Muslims really are islamic. Like Nazis and Communists, they can brook neither dissent nor even discussion from the moderates of their faith, because if the moderates are proven right, Jihadism as an ideology will have been proven to be an utter failure and a fraud.

The church that I belong to--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints--believes that, although other churches have some truth, it contains the entire truth, or at least the ability to understand that truth through ongoing revelation from God. We also believe, though, that every person is free to choose whether or not to believe the Church's teachings. Coincidentally, I have reason to believe that this is a similar concept of truth to what Muhammad taught with regard to Islam.

Nearly every religion teaches that it has the market cornered on truth. Islam teaches this. Catholicism teaches this. So do all the Protestant offshoots of Catholicism. I'm reasonably sure that most of the Oriental religions teach the same concept.

I once had a discussion with a friend about wars and history. He commented that all wars and oppression are religion-based. I suggested that Communism was responsible for more deaths than all wars combined. His reply was that Communism is a religion in and of itself. Semantically, he has a point, but his point obfuscates the reality that true religion believes that men are free to choose what they will be and believe.

In a way similar to Communism, Nazism, and the other political -isms, the Catholic Church developed a totalitarian nature in what we now know as the Dark Ages. Interestingly, Islam went through a phase of similar totalitarianism at about the same time. But whereas Christianity was able to correct its course, Islam has since been dominated by those who believe that because Islam is true, all people must be forced to believe it. Not even Muhammad taught that.


rmwarnick said...

Frank, I'm back from the "anonymous" zone. Finally got around to fixing it.

It's oh-so-convenient to invent a religion called "Jihadism" and claim it's different from Islam. But there's no such religion.

Frank Staheli said...

Are you saying that they're all violent? or that they're only violent because of American foreign policy?

What about Noni Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Aayan Hirsi Ali, Zuhdi Jasser, Walid Phares, etc. who disagree with you--to wit that there really are two different Islams, and that the Salafi/Khumeinist (read violent) strain is not the true strain of Islam?

D. Gubler said...

It's amazing to me that others can't see the great threat that exists to the world from radical Islam. Call it what you will, Jihadists fits very well. There are to many examples of what Islamic jihadists have done to not only those that do not believe in Islam, but to them who do. To have witnessed first hand the violence that they impose on each other is a scary thing. The Taliban in Afghanistan are a perfect example of how their only goal is to impose the unyielding beliefs on others and not allow anyone to think or state anything different. You don't have to look very far to find other areas of the world where the jihadists are exterminating anyone who doesn't convert to their beliefs. How do you defend such as these? How can you think it is not a threat? It's time that America wakes up and faces the truth of those threats.

rmwarnick said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, in the US Army there is a rule of combat that says "the right of self-defense is never denied." Jihad is a similar concept, and virtually all muslims are on the same page.

Osama bin Laden knows this, he knows it is the duty of every muslim to fight back. We should also understand what jihad is all about. In last night's GOP debate, Rudy Giuliani made it clear he doesn't get it.

The people you cite would be best described as critics of Islam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali works at the American Enterprise Institute!

Frank Staheli said...

You accused me of ad hominem. Now I accuse you of straw-man-itis. It makes no difference where she works. The facts are that she (and all the rest) was Muslim (most if not all still are) and what she (they) see in radical Islam is not what Islam is.

How can it NOT be critical to present that perspective to the world?

Elizabeth said...

I'm not sure that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Muslim.

There are tens of thousands of Muslims in New York City and very few radicals. There are 1 billion Muslims in the world and obviously, few of them are radicals.

Thus the issue isn't "Islam." Extremist Islamism is a threat to some degree, but the reason it's a threat is because the extremists are able to convince people who otherwise might not be extremist that the US and Israel are threats to their existence. When you look at what Israel does to the Palestinians and how Israel tries to claim all of Jerusalem for its own when it is a holy city to three religions, when the US invades Iraq without provocation, makes bellicose remarks about Iran without provocation, supports Israel's war against the Palestinians etc., why would we be surprised that the extremists Islamists are able to find converts and allies?

rmwarnick said...

Pointing out that Ayaan Hirsi Ali works at the American Enterprise Institute is an example of guilt by association. That place is neocon central.

An example of the straw man fallacy would be if I said her views were typical of most muslims.

Frank Staheli said...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali renounced Islam in 2002.

Richard's claim that she works for AEI is a strawman, because you make a fallacious implication (that working for AEI somehow invalidates her previous life as a Muslim.) states of "straw man" that "Its name is derived from the practice of using straw men in combat training. In such training, a scarecrow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it." This is what you have done.