Clear Thinking on Islam and the Left
In 2009 Jamie Glazov wrote an important volume entitled United in Hate. In it he spoke about how the political left in the West has time and time again sided with America’s totalitarian enemies, most often of late, the Islamic totalitarians. There is a strange alliance between the secular left and militant Islam. Both, it seems, hate America and the West enough to be willing to join forces, at least temporarily.
Thus Western lefties become radical Islam’s “useful idiots” as Lenin said about those gullible Westerners who aided the communists. But when the Marxists got into power, these dupes were the first to go. In the same way, once Islam gets into power in the West the first ones to lose their heads will be the lefty secularists.
Glazov’s story is all the more important since he came from a family of Soviet dissidents. But for more on him and his important book, see my review here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2009/09/16/a-review-of-united-in-hate-by-jamie-glazov/
A brand new book which covers similar ground, but dealing especially with the threat of imperialistic Islam, has appeared by William Kilpatrick. Called Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle For the Soul Of the West, it is an excellent volume indeed which I just did a review of: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/02/26/a-review-of-christianity-islam-and-atheism-by-william-kilpatrick/
Communism and Islam are both oppressive and totalitarian political ideologies, and Westerners have been naive and ignorant about the true nature of each. We do not learn from history it seems. Thus it is most fitting that these two authors have come together in a recent article. Glazov interviews Kilpatrick, focusing on his new book. This entire interview is well worth reading, but I finish this article with large slabs of it:
FP: Let’s begin with you telling us what inspired you to write this book.
Kilpatrick: In a way it’s a continuation of an earlier book of mine, Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong. That book looked at the ways in which moral relativism impaired Johnny’s ability to tell right from wrong. Part of the new book looks at the ways in which cultural relativism, or multiculturalism, impairs his ability to tell friend from foe. One of the chapters is titled “Why Johnny Can’t Read the Writing on the Wall.” One of the main reasons Western citizens can’t see the obvious about Islam is that they have been subjected to an educational system that insists on the moral equivalency of all cultures and religions, just as it had previously insisted on the equivalency of all value systems. So, the initial impulse for writing the book was my realization that the same people who introduced moral chaos into schools and society were now bent on normalizing an alien ideology. Or, to paraphrase Mark Steyn, the people who brought you Heather Has Two Mommies are about to bring you “Heather has four mommies and a great big bearded daddy.”
FP: Can you explain the title?
Kilpatrick: I use the word “atheism” in the title as shorthand for both atheists and militant secularists, most of whom tend to be on the left. Many Christians have awakened to the fact that they are in a cultural struggle with secular leftists, but far fewer have come to the realization that they are also in a civilizational struggle with Islam. Fewer, still, are aware that, as you point out in United in Hate, the left has formed a tacit alliance with radical Islam against the West.
Of course, Christians aren’t the only ones who are threatened by Islamic expansion. All non-Muslims are. But in the West, Christianity has traditionally been the focal point of resistance to Islamization. Unfortunately, Christianity in the West has been weakened both by secular attacks and by self-inflicted wounds. As a result, Christians in the West are failing to stand up for their cultural heritage. In fact, many fail to realize that their culture is under attack.
But without Christianity you are left mainly with philosophies of relativism, skepticism and materialism—philosophies that have proved themselves incapable of resisting Islamization and, in fact, serve to enable its spread. You can see this most clearly in Europe where the decline of Christianity has been accompanied not only by the rise of secularism but also by the rise of Islam. With the loss of faith has come a loss of meaning and the loss of a sense among Europeans that they have anything worth defending. The loss of faith is also one of the main factors accounting for Europe’s population loss. In other words, the decline of Christian faith in Europe created a spiritual vacuum and a population vacuum, both of which Islam was quick to fill.
While Muslim leaders and radical secularists are fully engaged in the struggle for the soul of the West, many Christians seem unaware that they are under attack from two sides. They need to wake up before it’s too late.
FP: In one of your chapters, you spoke of “Christian enablers of Islam.” Can you elaborate on that?
Kilpatrick: Many Christian leaders unwittingly act as enablers of Islam’s totalitarian agenda by focusing on the surface similarities between Christianity and Islam rather than on the profound and irreconcilable differences. A prime example is the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which includes a short statement of the Church’s relation to Muslims. Essentially, it says that Muslims adore the one God, revere Jesus, honor Mary, and value the moral life. Reading it one could easily jump to the conclusion that the Christian faith and the Islamic faith are very much alike. One might also conclude that Islam is indeed a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a handful of terrorists who misunderstand their own religion.
However, before jumping to that conclusion one needs to realize that Nostra Aetate was never intended to be the last word on Islam. Rather, the stated purpose of the declaration was to consider “what men have in common.” Moreover, it was written at a time—the 1960’s—when the Muslim world was far more moderate than it is now—a time when interreligious dialogue seemed to hold great promise. Recently Pope Benedict noted that with the passage of time “a weakness” of Nostra Aetate has become apparent: “it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion.” I think it safe to say that he’s referring here to Islam or, at least, to some forms of Islam.
This is a hopeful sign of a new realism about Islam. For too long, Catholic and Protestant leaders, alike, have been content to fall back on what I call the “common ground thesis”—the comforting belief that the Christian faith and the Islamic faith share much in common. As a result, a lot of Christians have been lulled into complacency about the threat from Islam. If they want to avoid the fate of Christians in North Africa, the Middle East, and various other Muslim regions they need to get a better grasp on what Islam really teaches.
FP: What must we do to save our civilization?
Kilpatrick: We need to realize that we are in a high-stakes struggle similar in nature to the Cold War with Soviet-bloc communism. In this new cold war, our aim should go beyond simply resisting jihad. Our aim should be the defeat of Islam as an idea, because it’s an idea that we are fighting. The driving force behind Islamic aggression is Islamic theology, and if we want to be free of Islamic aggression, we need to discredit Islam as a total system. I disagree with the notion that the religious part of Islam can be separated from the political part. Although individual Muslims might be able to achieve that separation in their personal lives, in the Islamic faith the religious and the political are inextricably bound together.
So our overall aim should be to cast doubts in the minds of Muslims about the words and example of Muhammad. In other words, we should want Muslims to lose faith in Islam just as Soviet-era communists lost faith in communism.
The other thing to keep in mind is that theologically and intellectually, Islam is a house of cards. It simply can’t stand up to the tests of critical reason and historical evidence that we apply to the Judeo-Christian revelation—which is precisely why we should apply them to an examination of Islam. Instead of engaging in non-challenging, non-offensive dialogue—a type of dialogue that only serves to legitimize Islam—Christian leaders ought instead to be challenging and questioning the tenets of Islam, particularly in view of the fact that Islam is built in part on a rejection of Christianity. Christian leaders can’t afford to delay taking a harder look at Islam because the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation is rapidly moving ahead with its project of imposing anti-blasphemy laws on the West—laws that are intended to prevent just such legitimate criticism.