Rabbi Aryeh Spero reviews my book Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t at Human Events:
Robert Spencer has done it again. Religion of Peace? is the fifth in a series of meticulously researched and analyzed books he has written regarding the major issue of our day — the dangerous challenge of Islam to the West. He is absolutely correct in underscoring the religious impulse behind Islam’s latest push to sublimate the West. But a secularized West seems to its own peril unwilling to acknowledge this religious component as the engine behind the hard and soft jihad coming our way.
This is a swift read written in a fluid manner reflective of a thinker who has long thought about the points he makes. The book is not weighed down by ponderous sentences, though Spencer’s ideas are deeply reasoned.
Ignoring Ancestral Faith
Spencer’s main thesis — and he is on the mark — is that too many in the West no longer realize that our life of liberty, rewarding individualism and human rights are a direct consequence of and specific to a unique religious philosophy — the Judeo-Christian one. Because so many have become distant from the knowledge and a kinship to their ancestral faith and since so many are intoxicated by the feel-good sentimentality of multiculturalism, they cannot and will not appropriate to the Judeo-Christian outlook the overwhelming credit it deserves for providing us the life we here in the West enjoy, the life of liberty and choice.
Living in times where the fashion is to pronounce that “nothing is intrinsically better than anything else,” elitists categorize all religions as basically the same, indistinguishable in their big ideas and aspirations. Imbibing such foolishness and lacking religious seriousness, many in the West wonder why the need to stave off the non-al Qaeda form of Islam since they assume our life and institutions would be equally benevolent, appealing and forward-looking if under the control of another religion, Islam.
Spencer proves the folly of such assertions by citing not only the distinct differences between scriptural and Koranic verses but, even better, also spotlighting those who interpret and give shape to these verses for its followers, thus establishing the on-the-ground philosophic and theological realities separating Islam from the Judeo-Christian worldview. He does so not by being disrespectful or dismissive of Islam, but by quoting countless imams loyal and proud of their ideology — those in the Islamic driver’s seat — who deride our freedoms, concept of free-will and especially the allowances we in the Judeo-Christian community grant women in making decisions for themselves and as equal partners in family and public life.
In fact, beyond the religious imperative of Jihad — which demands either conversion, second-class dhimmi status or death for non-believers — the unspoken yet most animating force behind jihadism is the fight-to-the-death mentality of Islamists unwilling to relinquish the authoratative power men have over their women and daughters and the near arbitrary way in which men may have their way with women — be it for honor, lust, power, convenience or sheer hierarchy.
There is an enormous difference, which filters down to every moment and aspect of society, between a religious outlook that labels moral only those activities freely chosen as opposed to an ideology that finds coercion admirable even if it results in the called-for submission to sharia law. There is a difference between a Judeo-Christian theology that ascribes to scientific inquiry a rationality conforming to the rational and predictable principles upon which God created the cosmos and that which looks negatively on any form of inquiry and investigation — rationality itself — if it could lead to conclusions different from unyielding sentences in an ancient text.
Enemies of the West
Too many in the West fail to realize this for they are still myopically fighting their age-old enemy here, the one they see on the street. As Spencer so aptly puts it: “The most determined enemies of Western civilization may be those on the left who fear their churchgoing neighbors more than Islamic terrorists.”
As with communism before, leftists judge Islam not by its actuality around the world today but the utopia its proponents say it will become when all live universally by it alone. In contradistinction, the anti-American left is eager to summarily chuck America and capitalism by deliberately refusing to notice our high ideals, overwhelming accomplishments and reality of goodness, relentlessly highlighting only the exceptions where we have failed (relatively minor) even though, unlike other societies, we earnestly redress our problems.
Typical of many of the multicultural and socially enervating dummkopfs graduating our brain-washing colleges today is a young woman named Rachel, cited in the book. Speaking to a group of American Indians, she tells the chief: “I don’t see anything about my culture to be proud of. It’s all nothing. My race and culture are nothing. On the other hand, you of the American Indian traditions have something great, something to be proud of.” Liberals love to wax rhapsodically about every culture but their own. Other people’s pride in their culture is considered admirable and healthy while expressed pride in the Judeo-Christian American civilization is characterized as racist, ethno-centric and bordering on “Nazism.” It’s no wonder they are unwilling to fight to preserve our culture.
Unlike the jihadists arrayed against us, the elitists shaping America’s outlook refuse to see this as a clash of civilizations or a war of religions. To do so, they would be forced to take sides. Many no longer like or identify with our side. For most, it would be “unsophisticated” to have to, this late in the game, extol the Judeo-Christian beliefs they have fought their whole lives and too embarrassing to embrace the patriotic Americanism necessary to fight for our culture. To do so would strip them of their identity and their reason for getting up each morning. Thus, they deny the reality of jihad.