“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” –Aristotle
I believe the biggest threat to western democracies today comes not only from Islam’s traditions of intolerance and political violence and anti-Western sentiment, but also from those apologists and pluralists, both religious and political, who are making every effort to convince us that this threat—these egregious customs—were never foreign to our North American traditions of tolerance and rule of law; as though Islam, with its ever-present political and religious maelstroms, is applicable to our democratic way of life.
One premise being applied vigorously is that, simply because western countries are co-ordinating with Islamic governments in fighting “Islamist” terrorism, it cannot be said that terrorism (read: jihad) originates from basic Islam or that the Muslim demographic is not become an obtrusive element in western societies. But as Efraim Karsh lucidly reminds us, “Political cooperation, however, has not meant accepting Western doctrines or values, as the events of September 11, 2001, amply demonstrate. Contrary to widespread assumptions, these attacks, and for that matter Arab and Muslim anti-Americanism, have little to do with US international behavior or its Middle Eastern policy. If, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of regaining the lost glory of the caliphate. As such, it is a natural target for aggression. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists’ war is not against America per se, but is rather the most recent manifestation of millenarian jihad for a universal Islamic empire (or umma).” Or as Paul Wolfowitz (US Deputy Secretary of Defence 2001-2005) once said of Afghanistan, “It’s generally right not to put ourselves in the business of trying to govern a very foreign country for which we had neither the cultural nor linguistic capacity to do it….it’s beyond our competence.” If we cannot govern such a “very foreign country” from a distance, how then can we hope to govern those very same peoples who, as immigrants to western democracies, bring with them the same contumacious and sectarian religious traditions that rendered them ungovernable in those Islamic countries of their birth? This is the potentially dangerous imbroglio being wilfully and shamelessly obfuscated daily by our media and politicians, the former only interested in selling newspapers, and the later only interested in selling themselves.
If Islam and its egregious manifestations of violence and political aggression (jihad) were not a problem, why is Europe now the scene of massive demonstrations against “Islamization” of the continent? If Islam is good, if “jihad” is not really the sore point of contemporary Islam, why are these demonstrations taking place? Could it be that Europeans are just simply bad and they’ve got it all wrong and Islam is intrinsically good? But why are terrorism and jihad always the inexplicit elements of any discussion about Islam today? The fact that we are constantly advised and reassured (usually by those far removed from even the periphery of these problems) that western democracies have nothing to worry about Islam the religion, that jihad and “creeping sharia” are not really intrinsic to its essential message should be understood as an indirect admission of these perilous contingencies. Or as Thomas Friedman said recently in the New York Times, “It is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading of jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community.”
Raphael Israeli asks what are by now both pressing and proverbial questions: “If this horror [9/11] has nothing to do with normative Islam, as we often hear it said, do we find in any other contemporary faith or system of belief any individual or organization which has launched or made common cause with a scheme of this scope and of this horrendous cruelty and inhumanity?…Why is it that most armed conflicts in the world today, and most acts of terrorism throughout the globe, are caused by, or connected to, Islam of one brand or another?…What is in fundamentalist Islam that is so bellicose and uncompromising as to sanction conflict, terrorism and ‘suicide bombing’?” And my question is: Why is every honest criticism of Islam and general Muslim behaviour today misconstrued or translated as the mad leanings of an “Islamophobe”? Irshad Manji has advised her fellow Muslims that when they become “ultra-defensive” about uncomfortable questions regarding their faith, the non-Muslim world will think they have something to hide.
Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you hit a pony over the nose at the outset of your acquaintance, he may not love you but he will take a deep interest in your movements ever afterwards.” Well, the West has been hit “over the nose” numerous times by now, and very forcefully—twice at the World Trade Centre in New York City for starters. Therefore, we are taking a deep interest in where Islam the religion is going from this point on, in what direction it is travelling. We have many questions the Muslim world, here and abroad, seem to be in the habit of dismissing out of hand. But we will not be ignored. We want the “umma” to acknowledge the fact that, even though the three major religions of the world are ancient, they are not at all equal. I do not see Christians today murdering each other because of theological differences. I do not see Jews today blowing themselves up in restaurants in Germany and Russia because of pogroms that took place long ago. I do read about Muslims blowing up trains in Madrid in 2004 because of the lost “Muslim cultural domain” of Al-Andalus (now Andalusia). I’ve seen caricatures, drawn by Muslim cartoonists, of Jews depicted as rats and Nazis, as published in modern newspapers in just about every Islamic country in the Middle East, without Jews by the thousands going stark raving mad and burning cars and destroying foreign embassies. Only Muslims do this, and the vast majority of them will never be condemned by the media and politicians as being “extremists” or “fundamentalists”.
To equate Islam with Judaism or Christianity, therefore, is the worst form of inequality. More than that, it is grossly imprudent. We are condoning an aggressively cruel, and willfully shameless, ideology whose essential goals are entirely imperialistic, for territorial gain and for religious preponderance. Who doesn’t see this is neither blind nor foolish, but probably complicit in this aggression.
Michael Devolin has been a member of JDL Canada since the 1980s, and has served as the personal bodyguard to Meir Weinstein, National Director of JDL Canada, at several high-profile trials, including the Jim Keegstra hate crimes trial and the Imra Finta war crimes trial.