Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Confront the Street-Burners with the Gospel

I haven't commented before on the Danish cartoons and their aftermath. Clearly, many in St. Blog's already have. So why haven't I?

I've needed to think.

Yes, I know; it's dangerous for a blogger to go all meditative over a hot story. Whoa, I might just get scooped by the entire blogosphere. Besides, where's the cartharsis in holding back from a well-deserved pile-on?

Well, as good as it would feel to tell the islamofascists, "Too bad! We're free to insult you, your prophet and anyone else we please. Deal with it!", I have to first consider this: is that an authentic Christian response?

No, it's not. However righteous it may feel, it's not an expression of Christ's love for his brothers. It's not the love of enemies to which he calls me--and all of us! It's not a voice that prophetically witnesses to justice.

It's the perfect trap of the Enemy.

Civilization has been besieged by two legions of the Enemy's agents. The Reasonable mouth-foamers in thrall to the Dictatorship of Relativism flank us all from one side--and from within. Islamofascists that celebrate a fanatical nihilism while envisioning a Caliphate revival threaten us from the other--and from within.

How does it serve Christians to stand with one legion against the other?

Alejandro Bermudez of Catholic Outsider illustrates my point:
the Vatican issued an incredibly well crafted statement explaining how freedom of speech should not mean freedom to offend a person’s religion, but also rejecting violence as a way to protest:
The freedom of thought and expression, confirmed in the Declaration of Human Rights, can not include the right to offend religious feelings of the faithful. That principle obviously applies to any religion.
Any form of excessive criticism or derision of others denotes a lack of human sensitivity and can in some cases constitute an unacceptable provocation.
But the Vatican also reserved some strong words to the violent reaction of Muslim protesters whom, among other things, set the Danish and the Norwegian embassies in Syria on fire.

The Vatican statement said that the institutions of a country should not be held responsible for the actions of a newspaper, even if government “could and should intervene according to (their) national legislation”.
“Real or verbal intolerance, from wherever it comes, whether as an action or a reaction, is always a serious threat to peace,” the statement says.
The number of cartoons mocking Christians or “celebrating” September 11 is countless around the Muslim world. No wonder many Conservatives are celebrating the “guts” of the European newspapers reprinting the cartoons despite Muslim threats.

Catholics should not jump to the wagon so fast. Those same newspapers are well known for their anti-Catholic bias.

Yes, it is paramount to show radical Muslims that violence will not intimidate Christians or the West into submission. But no, we should not celebrate the increasing European disregard for religion.

What would the reaction be if the cartoons would mock gays instead of Muslims? How many of those same newspapers would reprint the cartoons to show “solidarity” and support to freedom of the press?
The same press that many bloggers have flocked to support are the same that celebrate the "piss christ" or the "dung Mary." The secularism that Reasonable MSM elites in Denmark and beyond celebrate have no place for Fools of any creed, muslim or otherwise. I'm in no hurry to encourage their abuse of the freedom of speech.

Not that rioting, embassy and flag burning, and murder have any place in a civilized society. The Islamofascists that organized this fanatical response as a punishment to Denmark's internal management of its own society deserve nothing but utter condemnation. Their violent enablers on the street should be confronted with the full force of the law, and each of them should face the consequences of his action.

I can oppose the violence of islamofascists while refusing to stab law-abiding muslims in the back. Why should I obstruct any spiritual seeker's path?

For that is what endorsing the Danish cartoons amounts to for the Christian. Bear with me as I explain.

Nostra Aetate clearly states that the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is good and true in all religions. It follows then that whatever truth Muslims receive from Islam is truth that I, as a Christian, can agree. Muslims may not possess the fullness of truth; however, their encounter with the measure of truth that they do experience sets them on the road. They're seeking that communion with God for which we all long to experience.

Will standing up for the abstract right to freedom of speech help them to further seek communion with God through their tradition, and beyond? Will my identification with secularists' disdain for religion guarantee that right? Of course not! But it will most likely alienate those honest muslims that seek the fullness of truth.

If I have any hope of evangelizing such seekers, I will jeopardize that hope by destroying the vehicle that allows him to grasp part of the truth before he's ready to acccept all of it. I therefore sabatoge my own efforts to offer him the Gospel. How can that be something Christ wants of me?

Secret Agent Man offers a far more insightful account of what I'm discussing:
I suggest that this controversy is happening because Jesus Christ gave the world a radical vision of human goodness. It is not enough to create a society in which such controversies are forbidden. It is not enough to scourge Islam from the minds and hearts of men:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

-- Matthew 12:43-45 (KJV)
A negative definition of freedom is not enough. It is not enough to be free from an addiction. It is not enough to refrain from harm. A man, or a society, which limits itself to these goals will become a clean-swept house. Sub specie aeternitatis, making laws dictating what people must mock or revere isn't worth a penny.

I believe that Jesus Christ doesn't just want men to abandon falsehood; He wants men to abandon falsehood for the truth. He doesn't just want men to forsake addiction, lust, Communism, and Islam, He wants men to forsake them for something better. Here, St. Paul says, is the Unknown God to whom you should pay your allegiance, not because He is stronger among the gods, not because He has a more effective five-year plan, but because He is the summit and perfection of all that is truly good; He is what you have, when at your best, been trying to find all these years. We don't want a world in which Islam has been scourged out of existence. We want a world in which a billion Muslims quietly walk away from what they realize has been a myth. That is the lasting victory Christ wants, and it's why cultures who have been influenced by Christianity value -- however distortedly, however forgetfully -- the freedom of human thought.
There remains one more side of this issue that I haven't addressed: The institutional corruption of Arabian societies has fostered a culture of hatred. Satirizing the religion of those endoctrinated by that culture does nothing to halt the islamofascists that emerge from it.

Nonie Darwish, writing for the Telegraph, offers this chilling witness of what it's like to grow up within this diabolical culture:
I was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt and in the Gaza Strip. In the 1950s, my father was sent by Egypt's President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to head the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and the Sinai where he founded the Palestinian Fedayeen, or "armed resistance". They made cross-border attacks into Israel, killing 400 Israelis and wounding more than 900 others.

My father was killed as a result of the Fedayeen operations when I was eight years old. He was hailed by Nasser as a national hero and was considered a shaheed, or martyr. In his speech announcing the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, Nasser vowed that all of Egypt would take revenge for my father's death. My siblings and I were asked by Nasser: "Which one of you will avenge your father's death by killing Jews?" We looked at each other speechless, unable to answer.

In school in Gaza, I learned hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option, as it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. At school we sang songs with verses calling Jews "dogs" (in Arab culture, dogs are considered unclean).

Criticism and questioning were forbidden. When I did either of these, I was told: "Muslims cannot love the enemies of God, and those who do will get no mercy in hell." As a young woman, I visited a Christian friend in Cairo during Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. They said: "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We heard worshippers respond "Amen".

My friend looked scared; I was ashamed. That was when I first realised that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practised. Sadly, the way I was raised was not unique. Hundreds of millions of other Muslims also have been raised with the same hatred of the West and Israel as a way to distract from the failings of their leaders. Things have not changed since I was a little girl in the 1950s.

Palestinian television extols terrorists, and textbooks still deny the existence of Israel. More than 300 Palestinians schools are named after shaheeds, including my father. Roads in both Egypt and Gaza still bear his name - as they do of other "martyrs". What sort of message does that send about the role of terrorists? That they are heroes. Leaders who signed peace treaties, such as President Anwar Sadat, have been assassinated. Today, the Islamo-fascist president of Iran uses nuclear dreams, Holocaust denials and threats to "wipe Israel off the map" as a way to maintain control of his divided country.

Indeed, with Denmark set to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, the flames of the cartoon controversy have been fanned by Iran and Syria. This is critical since the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to refer Iran to the Security Council and demand sanctions. At the same time, Syria is under scrutiny for its actions in Lebanon. Both Iran and Syria cynically want to embarrass the Danes to achieve their dangerous goals.

But the rallies and riots come from a public ripe with rage. From my childhood in Gaza until today, blaming Israel and the West has been an industry in the Muslim world. Whenever peace seemed attainable, Palestinian leaders found groups who would do everything to sabotage it. They allowed their people to be used as the front line of Arab jihad. Dictators in countries surrounding the Palestinians were only too happy to exploit the Palestinians as a diversion from problems in their own backyards. The only voice outside of government control in these areas has been the mosques, and these places of worship have been filled with talk of jihad.

Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate, that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy. It's a system that has brought them much-needed unity, cohesion and compliance in a region ravaged by tribal feuds, instability, violence, and selfish corruption. So Arab leaders blame Jews and Christians rather than provide good schools, roads, hospitals, housing, jobs, or hope to their people.

For 30 years I lived inside this war zone of oppressive dictatorships and police states. Citizens competed to appease and glorify their dictators, but they looked the other way when Muslims tortured and terrorised other Muslims. I witnessed honour killings of girls, oppression of women, female genital mutilation, polygamy and its devastating effect on family relations. All of this is destroying the Muslim faith from within.
Only Christ can drive out the darkness that empowers the legions arrayed against civilization. Only God-made-man can fill the void left by the incomplete, and sometimes corrupt, presentation of truth proclaimed in Islam. While we can and must oppose the bloodythirsty islamofascists that would kill all opposed to their totalitarianism, we must bear the Gospel to those muslims truly interested in peace and truth. We can help those muslims not attracted to the nihilism of political islam to take back their societies.

We can't do any of this by cheerleading the secularists of a dying Europe as they attack religion once again.

Let conservative and libertarian blogggers stand for the nobility of freedom of speech in this case. Christ calls me--and all Christians--to a higher purpose here. The Gospel requires preaching, and our audience awaits.

Update: ACS of Upper Canada Catholic agrees!