Islam Through Western Liberal Eyes
Reader Annie comments on the Manchester bombing thread:
Western liberals have a bad habit of “denying agency.” Our self-absorbed knee-jerk tendency to blame all the world’s woes on the evil West is just a way of putting ourselves at the center of every story, for reasons best left unaddressed here.
I’m opposed to drone bombing. I’m opposed to the wars in the ME. I’m opposed to arms deals with the Saudis, and I suggest now is a good moment to get behind Rand Paul and his move to bring the current arms deal to a vote. I’m opposed to an economy built upon the exploitation of the world, and I think we should move immediately to address our real sins: an unethical standard of living which requires oil, fuels wars across the world and has led to global displacement and chaos.
Those are our real sins, and every single person writing here is complicit in them. But let’s get something straight: this cultural relativism is nonsense. Islam has a problem, and it has had a problem since its very inception. It is at war against itself and against whatever people it comes across. It slaughters in the Philippines. It slaughters in India. It slaughters in Myanmar. It slaughters in Nigeria. It slaughters in the Sudan. It has done these things from the beginning, and it is all right there in the Quran, let alone the hadith.
There was a time about ten years ago when I considered becoming Muslim. It is a very attractive image to a certain type of young bleeding heart woman, and I know two others who did convert. You can identify with the scapegoat, with the suffering. Most attractive of all was Sufism. I still am moved by the Sufis.
My boyfriend at the time had a grandfather who was a very liberal, open-minded man. He had spent his career between the Middle East and America, working as an oil executive (and yes, really, he was a passionate Democrat). He was quite tolerant of my many radical left-wing ideas, but he would shake his head when I started talking about Islam.
“Annie,” he’d say. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Please, read the Quran. Not excerpts. Not summaries. Read the book.” Eventually I did. I read it in a day, reflected for a few minutes in a sort of weird trance, and then re-read it once more straight-away.
I stopped talking about becoming a Muslim after that. There are beautiful things in Islam. The Sufis are incredible. Many Muslims also hold to their own sort of MTD-ism, and accept the religion the way Catholicism in America was often just a home for keeping the immigrant culture together. Social hall religion, you could say.
But I became a Christian because the Gospels really are radically different than anything the world has ever seen. Christianity grew on the blood of martyrs; The Prophet made martyrs. It will not stop with the end of the Caliphate. As long as there are people who read the Quran and take it literally there will be people who go out and perform jihad. This is not like inviting the Irish Catholics into your Protestant country. It is like sending Lenin back into Russia.
As much as possible we should preach Christ. But that doesn’t mean we should pretend Islam is what its naive defenders want it to be. The burning flesh and severed limbs of innocents are there in the heart of it. Yes, “Not All Muslims.” But, a lot. I foresee Islam waging war on the infidel as long as Islam exists. And by all means, let it exist. But let those who would fight back fight back. Let those who would defend their homes and children defend them. Let us arrest and detain anyone with the slightest hint of radicalism, who has been welcomed in another country and is prepared to return that welcome with nails through children’s faces. Let those who are convinced Islam is the religion of peace face their own dependence on violence in the ME. Let them look the Coptic Christians, the Yazidis, Hindus, Christians in Somalia, Pakistan, Nigeria or Sudan, Buddhists, even (especially) other Muslims in the eye after the radically bold sacrifice of having changed their FB avatar.
Please, enough with the self-absorbed platitudes and selective history-making. Islam is not your piece of clay to make in your own image.