The elevator doors opened and in walked a young woman dressed in the traditional veiled hijab–I’m assuming she was a Muslim–and I thought to myself, “Is she my enemy?” Looking at the reaction to my last column, there’s a whole bunch of people whose default position is to believe so–and maybe they’re right. In their minds, “Islam is the enemy. We’re at war. She shouldn’t be here.” It’s that simple to them.
But, of course, in the real world, it is so much more complicated–and ancient. Humanity has been dealing with this prob-lem for a long time. Plato addressed the theological-political problem in his Laws back in the 5th century B.C. Today, for most of us, the problem occurs in the struggle to reconcile two conflicting beliefs.
As Christians, we believe Islam is a false religion–and the belief is reciprocal.
As Americans, we believe in the free exercise of religion, including Islam–but this belief is not reciprocal.
So, how do we deal with tolerating a religion that is itself intolerant of us? Ought we to pride ourselves on our tolerance and eagerly embrace their intolerance even if it leads to our own destruction? Or, perhaps we ought to abandon our First Amendment and be intolerant of Islam while tolerating only those “acceptable” religions that we decide are “peaceful”? Or, should we intolerantly force them to abandon their religion and embrace a “moderate” replacement that we approve of?
None of these options work for me. I’m a Christian American and I want to live at peace with others, but if someone wants to kill my family, it’s a fight to the death. I don’t think we’re there, yet. Nor do I want to pass an Amendment that would legalize religious discrimination. I don’t want to adapt to them, I think they should adapt to us and embrace toler-ance–the whole “live and let live” thing. Nor do I want to force someone to change their religion against their will–how could this even be done? There’s got to be another option. But, is there?
See, the problem is, Christianity teaches the Golden Rule while Islam doesn’t. The Koran teaches that every Muslim is superior to every non-Muslim and that men are superior to women. A Muslim may treat a Jew, a Buddhist, or a Christian with respect, but they will never be considered equals, for they are dhimmis, a near-slave status in Muslim teaching. This is the fundamental reason why Islam is incompatible with democracy and thereby the West. How can you have a democracy among non-equals? Let alone the fact that half of all Muslim populations are immediately excluded from the political process simply because of their gender. Either the West will cease to be the West, or Islam will cease to be Is-lam. But the two cannot blend and remain what they are. It is the defining characteristic of each that it has almost noth-ing in common with the other.
In Islam, the world is divided into the world of believers, dar al Islam, and that of unbelievers, dar al harb. Islam is not merely at war with the West, it is at war with the world. No authority is higher than the infallible divine law contained in the closed canon of the Koran. Sharia law trumps all other claims to divine law, all natural law, and all positive law. No Muslim can be under any authority other than sharia law. To do so is to render oneself apostate and deserving of death. Reason itself is unable to inquire into the morality of the divine law. This is why the concepts of state, citizen, nation, pluralism and tolerance are alien to Islam. It is also why perhaps there is no more clear instance of the reformer’s di-lemma in all of history. To reform one must question, and to question is forbidden.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, “Americans are alarmed by the advance of Islam into our society, and properly so, for who will assimilate to whom? Could a Muslim have written the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitu-tion? Does Islam believe in the separation of church and state, that all men are created equal, that there should be no religious test for political office holders, that government ought to be secular?”
The answer, of course, is no.
The challenge of the West to live peaceably with Islam is made perhaps impossible by both the historical record and sim-ply by looking around today. What do nearly all the problem spots around the world have in common? What dominant Muslim country has anything approaching real human rights? Where are the Muslim denunciations of violence, terrorism, genocide, and slavery coming from the many mosques, universities, newspapers and capitols throughout the Muslim world? For that matter, where are the condemnations of these things coming from the American Muslim community? There are over one billion Muslims on this planet and their collective silence on these evils is deafening and threatening. What are we non-Muslims to think, other than that the vast majority of Muslims must either support if not tolerate such things? Perhaps “moderate” Islam is merely a Western fiction created to avoid addressing the unavoidable and inevitable reality of civilizational incompatibility.
The loudest and most clear message we non-Muslims hear from the Muslim world is “Convert, submit to Dhimmitude, or die.” Come to think of it, I’m not hearing any other message. And that is what is so deeply troubling.
Are we to take comfort in being told not all Muslims are radical? Perhaps, and I hold on to that. But, if just one-hundredth of one-percent are future jihadists, you’re still talking 100,000 killers hoping to blow up a school bus or fly a plane into a building. We are at war with these radicals, make no mistake.
So, as I remember that young woman in the elevator with the hijab, I think of these things.
Maybe she’s an American citizen who loves this country and is bothered by what she sees, too. Maybe her family fled re-ligious persecution back in the old country. Maybe she actually wants to live here and raise her family here. Her Muslim husband might be in the National Guard. She might even be a Republican. And maybe, just maybe, she’s someone who worries about these things just as I do, and is trying to reform her religion into something that can live peaceably in modernity.
It’s these last thoughts that stop me short of seeing her as the enemy.
Or, maybe she’s in a sleeper cell. I probably wouldn’t know until it was too late, anyway.