Sunday, 20 December 2015 08:12

The West and Islam

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The West and Islam

Mark E. Mishanie and Michael S. Swisher - Editorial

The following is an exchange is between Mark E. Mishanie, a subscriber to The St. Croix Review, and Michael S. Swisher, the Chairman of the Board of Religion and Society, the foundation that publishes The St. Croix Review.

Islamic ideology must be ultimately defeated. ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc., are only outgrowths of it. Sad to say, most people are still ignorant about this.

They talk about radical Islam as being the problem. That is wrong. The problem is with Islamic culture. The way Westerners view it, there is a problem with a minority of Muslims, the terrorists. The rest are good and peace loving. Look at Islamic countries. Look how they treat women: Women have no voice. They are forced to wear veils, forced to have children, raped, beaten, not given any political voice. These countries still allow for polygamy. They can stone to death a woman for adultery. They can jail and kill a person for being gay. They can chop a person's hand off for stealing. Beheadings are normal. Jews and Christians are viewed as enemies in their midst with ties to infidel Europe, America, and Israel.

What to do? Condemn them for the way they live and think and don't stop. End the tolerance of their barbaric practices. It is time to call out their ideology and bring them into the modern world. We cannot be afraid to speak the truth.

I am not saying that there should be no Islam. We need to destroy its archaic belief system and bring them into our world. Until that is done, we will have problems, America will have problems, Europe will have problems, Israel will have problems. If this is not done, destroying ISIS will have few consequences in the long run.

- Mark E. Mishanie

There is truth in what Mr. Mishanie says but the solution he advances is easier said than done.

Religions aren't just the words of their sacred scriptures or liturgies (whatever those may be) but also the experience and traditions that have been accumulated by their followers over centuries and millennia.

Judaism has survived Pharaonic Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the empire of Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire, complete with Titus's punitive expedition and Hadrian's destruction of Jerusalem. This in turn led to Jewish Diaspora and many subsequent persecutions. Christianity suffered initial persecution by the Romans, much schism and conflict even after it became an established religion under Constantine; it underwent a Reformation, followed by wars of religion culminating in the terrible Thirty Years' War, and an Enlightenment that challenged its philosophical bases. These experiences have made Judaism and Christianity what they are today.

Islam has never had a Reformation, and it never had to meet the challenges of an Enlightenment. It is still very much as it was in the seventh century, when it first swept out of the Arabian peninsula to conquer the ancient civilizations of Egypt, the Levant, Asia Minor, and Persia. Its reverses have mainly been military defeats, as when its forces were repulsed at Tours, Granada, Lepanto, and Vienna. It has learned nothing by these events, but rather retains its desire for conquest. It's revealing that Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the leadership of ISIS have referred to Spain as "al-Andalus" - they still regret its loss (in 1492!) and dream of recovering it.

I don't know how we "destroy its archaic belief system and bring them into our world." It seems to me that Islam is at a point in its historic development that parallels where Christianity was in the sixteenth century, if that. It took more than a century of warfare after the Reformation to arrive at the agreement ? sealed by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) - providing that the nations of Europe would no longer go to war over religious differences. And that, of course, did not stop European rulers from engaging in internal persecutions. Just as one example, the Spanish Inquisition was not abolished until the early nineteenth century.

Is Mr. Mishanie prepared to accept the centuries of warfare that may be necessary to achieve his goal?

Hilaire Belloc devoted the fourth chapter of his book The Great Heresies (1938) to Islam, which he viewed as an offshoot of the Arian heresy. He predicted that Islam would be an enemy to Western civilization long after Bolshevism had vanished. Considering that he wrote that book when Bolshevism was riding high - just as Stalin was about to conspire with Hitler to carve up Poland - it seems well nigh prophetic.

The Cold War lasted fifty years, occasionally breaking out into hot warfare in places ranging from Korea to Vietnam to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada, before the Soviet Union collapsed. My feeling is that our conflict with Islam will last much longer, even if we do not actively seek a fight, as Mr. Mishanie proposes. This is a situation in which, as Lenin is supposed to have observed, "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."

My own preference, for whatever it is worth, is for a policy of exclusion and containment. We should not accept any more Muslim immigrants; we should search out and deport all those who entered the country illegally, as well as any obvious troublemakers. We should have as little as possible to do with Muslim countries. The only worthwhile thing they have to offer us is their oil. They have to sell it to someone. Our contact should be limited to this commercial purpose, with only short-term visas issued to their nationals as may be necessary to facilitate trade. These visas should be restricted to certain areas, with most of the country being off-limits to them. We should at the same time strive to reduce our dependence on oil imported from the Islamic world by a vigorous program of domestic energy development.

Perhaps we can protect ourselves by such steps without inviting the terrible loss of American blood and treasure that now seems to have been wasted to no lasting effect.

- Micheal S. Swisher *

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