FREE SPEECH UPDATE: You still can’t write about Muhammad. Will other religious groups take the lesson that violence works? Because, in a world of the spineless, it does, and at very low cost. Thanks, guys, for establishing this incentive structure.
Miss Kelly, who kindly alerted me to this, has a good post about it: “Instapundit’s Odd Relativism About Religious Violence.” In it she notes, correctly, that the answer to his question is: “No, other religious groups won’t, because other religions aren’t that intolerant and brittle, nor do their leaders sanction or incite such violence.”
Reynolds’ core assumption, of course, is one that he shares with innumerable others: that violence — and supremacism — has no more basis in Islamic texts and teachings than it does in those of Judaism or Christianity, and while there may be violent passages in the Qur’an, well, there are violent passages in the Bible as well. All religions are equal in their capacity to inspire magnanimity or fanaticism. People cling to this assumption tenaciously, and I suspect one reason why is that they are afraid that if they say that one religion has a greater likelihood of inspiring violence than another, they will fall into that sin of sins, “bigotry.”
He seems also to be assuming that Muslims commit violence, and threaten violence, because they have found that it works, while others have not caught on to that yet. It has nothing to do with any imperative within Islam, or lacking within other traditions, at all.
But there is, of course, no reason why any of this should be so — either the idea that all religions are essentially equal in their effect on their adherents, or the idea that to say otherwise would be bigoted. Religions are, among other things, sets of propositions about the world and one’s rights and responsibilities in it. The propositions asserted by all religions are not all the same — if they were, there wouldn’t be religious divisions in the world. A religion is a belief-system, and there is absolutely no reason why one belief-system couldn’t be more violent and supremacist than another.
Part of the Islamic belief-system is the proposition that one who insults Muhammad should be killed. That is why Muslims so easily resort to threats of violence against those who say things about Muhammad that they don’t like. No sect of Christianity teaches that the one who insults Jesus should be killed. In fact, they all teach that one should be patient and charitable with opponents. That is why Christians do not generally resort to threats of violence against those who say things about Jesus that they don’t like. There are nuts in every group, of course, and that’s why I say “generally,” but there is no sanction in the core teachings of the religion for such behavior. And that’s why Reynolds’s earlier assertion that “sooner or later, you know, fundamentalist Christians are going to pick up on this lesson, engage in similar behavior, and make similar demands” is almost certainly false. The most virulently fundamentalist Christian can find no sanction in Jesus’ teaching for the murder of his opponents any more than anyone else can.
It does not make every Muslim a terrorist to point this out, and it isn’t bigoted to do so, either. It is simply to state a series of facts — and if anyone wishes to try to prove that the facts I have asserted here are false, I welcome the challenge. Meanwhile, the relativism of Glenn Reynolds and so many others continues to hinder our response to the jihad threat. If we assume that Islamic violence and supremacism are aberrations taught by a few marginal fanatics and abhorred by most Muslims, we will underestimate the conflict we are facing, as well as the appeal of the jihadist imperative among Muslims, and we will be ill-prepared to meet the jihadist challenge in all its dimensions.
And that is exactly the state of things in the West today.