"In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law the doctrine of one omnipotent God, he connected indissolubly with it the audacious falsehood that he was himself His prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus the faith and hope of immortal life and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE ... Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant ... While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace on earth, and good will towards men."
-- John Quincy Adams (emphasis his)
"Ever since the Crusades, the people of Western Christendom developed a stereotypical and distorted vision of Islam, which they regarded as the enemy of decent civilization . . . It was, for example, during the Crusades, when it was Christians who had instigated a series of brutal holy wars against the Muslim world, that Islam was described by the learned scholar-monks of Europe as an inherently violent and intolerant faith, which had only been able to establish itself by the sword. The myth of the supposed fanatical intolerance of Islam has become one of the received ideas of the West."
-- Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (Modern Library, 2000), 179-80.
The more I learn about him, the higher does Old Man Eloquent rise in my esteem . . . But the Islamophilia of certain groups in our society warrants some attention. Why, when Islam has manifestly spread itself by the sword and indeed only by the sword, and when its vicinity to people of any other faith brings violence -- to Sikhs and Jains in the Punjab, Hindus in Pakistan and India, animists and Christians in Nigeria and the Sudan, Catholic Christians in the Philippines, Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, Jews in Palestine, and the few remaining Zoroastrians in Iran and in Chinese Turkestan -- do western liberals, haters of war, gloss over it, and prefer rather to slander "fundamentalist" Christians in their own country, fearing them more than they fear the ayatollahs?
What, in fact, is to fear from the "fundamentalist" Christians? Tax policy? States' rights? The rejection of Darwinism? Bible-believing Americans do not blow up trade centers; but they sure will help you put the roof back on your house after a big storm, and their kids tend to be polite enough. What's to fear? Theism? What are those on the left talking about when they see a "theocracy" coming out of Texas, but nothing at all from Teheran? Isn't it the reversal of that sexual revolution -- a revolution that has deeply compromised Bible-believing Christians themselves? What else can possibly be gained from deflecting attention away from Shari'a and towards (horribile dictu) people who believe that fornication, adultery, sodomy, and abortion (and, chillingly enough, even contraception) are immoral?
And then there are some on the right who make common cause with Muslims, as they probably should, to fight the lunatic anti-family proposals coming from the UN. To our great shame, we "Christian" nations now find ourselves looking up to the shining examples of such places as Saudi Arabia, whose people look upon our sexual madness with disbelief.
But the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. There was once a thriving Nestorian Christian culture, extending from the Levant all the way into China. It is no more. There was once a thriving Persian culture, centered around the intelligent and humane religion of Zoroaster; it was put to the sword. There is no Islamic Patrick, no Islamic Boniface, no Islamic Cyril and Methodius, no Islamic Damien of Molokai, no Islamic Jean de Brebeuf, no Islamic Matteo Ricci, no Islamic Teresa of Calcutta. Ms. Armstrong is too dull to draw distinctions; Old Man Eloquent saw them, and that was during a time of burgeoning interest in all things Islamic. But we are an effete culture -- literally, "birthed-out," barren, exhausted. We have not the strength even to replace ourselves with children.
Some years ago, after teaching a few classes on what happened to the works of the Islamic heretics Avicenna and Averroes, I asked a philosopher friend of mine whether their rejection was inevitable. So it seemed to me, reading selections from the Koran and from their bitter and clear-thinking opponent, the theologian Al-Ghazali. He said that he thought that Islam really left no room for the development of natural law thinking; the flaw lies at the heart of the religion, in the voluntarist conception of God. "What will happen to us, then?" I asked. "One side will destroy the other," he replied. And he was a liberal who detested war.