It’s frankly demoralizing to continue contemplating the seemingly endless reign of brutality and hatred in what we know as the Islamic world. But to pretend it’s not happening is to surrender to a very dangerous delusion.
In the middle of a forest in the Pakistani capital, a group of Christians has cut down trees to clear land and has begun to build a church out of branches after leaving their neighborhood in fear when one of their own was accused of violating Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.
It is something which adds bitter insult to grievous injury, when a brutal killer is rewarded after the fact of his crimes by having his twisted personal manifesto widely publicized and analyzed, before the eulogies for the victims have even been heard. Often when it happens the killer himself is dead, but not so in the case of Anders Behring Breivik, who will apparently have the opportunity to enjoy his notoriety for many years to come, since Norway does not practice capital punishment (and in theory he may be released after 21 years in prison). Inevitably his 1518 pages of writing, titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” will be pored over in an attempt to explain his demonic acts.
Since I already wrote something two days ago regarding the common description of Breivik in the media as a “fundamentalist Christian,” a follow-up on that point based on his writings seems called for, at least in my own mind. There’s no possibility of my reading his entire opus, but I thought a quick probe of his “Christianity” might be possible by simply doing a word search for the name Jesus. Unsurprisingly, the references I found this way betrayed no particular faith and even less any sensitivity to Christian teaching. He seems to stitch in cold references to Christianity merely as part of his process of documenting whatever it is he thinks he is documenting. On page 1307, he explicitly states that he has no “personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God” but instead believes in Christianity “as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.” I speculate that he may find that this position leaves something to be desired when he meets his Maker. But I know of no kind of “fundamentalist Christian” (a term which in itself is poorly used far more than it is ever accurately used) who would say such a soulless thing. Continue reading “Breivik: Neither Jesus nor Robert Spencer inspired his bloodlust”
Another copy of the Koran gets damaged (OK, destroyed), and rioting Muslim mobs on the other side of the world kill random non-Muslims in response. Yet, the focus seems to remain more on condemning the person who destroyed the copy of the book, instead of those who are killing human beings, and those religious leaders who are encouraging them to do so. As Robert Spencer says:
Everyone seems to take it for granted that if Muslims are offended, they will murder innocent people, and that instead of calling that irrational violence what it is, we should take pains not to offend Muslims, and blame those causing the alleged offense to the Muslims for the irrational violence.
Do we just go through the same cycle again this time? Do we simply wait for it to happen again without trying to change the way this issue is framed? People who don’t like Islam will sometimes damage or destroy Korans to express their point of view. It’s a crass and, I think, a counterproductive way of contending with an ideology and theology which one opposes, but — in the United States at least — it certainly cannot be outlawed.
At some point, we (and by that I especially mean our spokespeople in government) need to react to events like this not by seeming to validate the primitive, irrational and murderous behavior of these mobs and their mullahs, but by taking the opportunity to strongly emphasize the non-negotiable nature of the right of free expression in this country, and by condemning instead the concept of murdering people because they simply don’t share your religion. At some point, in other words, we have to stick up for what’s true, and attempt to convince others of that truth, instead of distorting what we claim to believe in the name of appeasing savage and bloodthirsty morons.
Robert Spencer’s bio at Jihad Watch states that he “has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history in depth since 1980.” Since September 11th, 2001, he has been one of a priceless few whose knowledge of and clear speaking to issues surrounding Islam, jihadism and terrorism has helped the rest of us catch up (although the catching up has been slow and is very much ongoing). In books like “The Truth About Muhammad,” and his current one, “Religion of Peace?,” Robert Spencer doesn’t indulge in his own wild theorizing but instead quotes and references established and influential Islamic sources, and deals in facts rather than wishes. Rabbi David G. Dalin says of “Religion of Peace?” that it “counters the moral equivalence arguments that excuse Islamic jihadists and attack Judeo-Christian civilization and the West.” I think it does do that, and in a succinct, fair and no-nonsense fashion. The jacket of this book says that Spencer “lives in a secure, undisclosed location,” and would that it were just a joke. He is one of a handful of notables who were named in a threatening al-Qaeda video message last September. For all this and more, I believe he deserves our admiration. And for his knowledge of and affection for the music of Bob Dylan, I think he will earn any fellow fan’s respect. The following Q&A was conducted via email. Continue reading “Q & A with Robert Spencer on Bob Dylan”