Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope Shouldn't Apologize For Criticizing Islam

--Written from Norwich, Vt.

Pope Benedict has criticized Islam for its belief in violence as an acceptable way of spreading the religion, generating a new round of vilification of the West from Islamic extremists who oppose freedom of speech. It's a repeat of sorts of the controversy earlier in the year about the Danish cartoons identifying Islam with violence.

The Pope, in my view, should not apologize for telling the truth. Nothing is to be gained by letting a view spread that fundamentalist Muslim conduct is acceptable in the Modern World.

A great deal of the criticicism of the Pope's remarks has come from Turkey, a country that has been backsliding from the secuiar policies of Ataturk and sinking back into primitive aspects of the Muslim faith. The Pope is scheduled to visit Turkey next month, but already the murder of several Catholic priests there had jeopardized the visit, and, for the Pope's safety, it probably now must be cancelled.

It is not going to be helpful to sweep the issue over barbarism emanating from Islamic extremists under the rug. It must be resisted with all the force at our disposal. There is nothing compatible between these forces and the West.

In the meantime, reform of Islamic beliefs that are outdated is essential. There is a way for this faith to live in the Modern World but only if it changes for the better. There are reformists in Islam. We must help them to be heard.

So for the Catholic Church to get cold feet and express regret for the Pope's remarks is not in order. As Henry Adams once said, "You can't use tact with a Congressman. You must take a stick and hit him in the snout." That goes for believers in barbaric fundamentalism as well. The Pope did a service. Now, he should be proud of it.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous ainelivia said...

I agree, however in the past few minutes he has. However I note that he also asked for understanding of his words. He has been generous and understanding in the face of bullying and tantrums.

9/16/2006 5:01 AM  
Blogger Thompson W. said...

I like many elements of your article. I am a student of both christian and islamic theology, and have found it possible to empathise with both. Example: If I say a glass is half full and you say a glass is half empty, who is right?

I especially like your last paragraph in which you recognise that there are other moderate voices of Islam, who, in my understanding represent the majority, and how we should let their voices be heard.

So, just as Muslims all over the world should not misconstrue the meaning of what the Pope has said, so should the Christians not misconstrue that all Muslims are violent.

Unfortunately the media (through which we depend on for so much of our perception) often works on sound bites, and encourages us to draw quick conclusions (either for or against the kind Pope, either for or against the muslims).

Good essay.

9/16/2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point in question is not whether Muslims are violent or not, but whether Islam itself is violent or not! I hear form so many direction these days a call for Islam also getting “reformed” just like Christianity, which changed and got back to its roots by the reformation and by going back to the Bible. Well… In Islam that has happened already if you have not noticed my friends! It is no point in waiting much longer! And the result? It was Wahhabism and other fundamentalist sects, my friends, and I ensure you any time a real and open debate takes place between an Islamic fundamentalist scholar and a moderate Islamic scholar on the basis of just Koran (and I am not even talking about Hadith and Tradition!!), the moderate scholar will lose pretty miserably! He will have no defense and no ammunition, and he will have to only explain away all the uncomfortable parts and try to pretend that they mean something totally different than what they obviously do say. That’s what they always do and it simply doesn’t convince many people these days and for good reason!

Plus I must say most Muslims in the world are NOT moderates in the true Western sense of the word. Maybe they don’t hijack airplanes and commit suicide bombing, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t consider all who dare to criticize Islam as unworthy depraved creatures who should be crushed at least by the iron feast of peer pressure, especially if this someone happens to be one of their own and of course they all believe in tantrum throwing as a kind of method for defending their faith (we saw in the case of Danish cartoons and now with Pope)! And last but not least, their treatment of women is very often horrendous without bothering them at all. It is just the way they see these creatures called “women”! Nothing strange at all if they think that seeing one thread of female hair can cause a man engage into most sinful of thoughts! And because of men’s lack of restrain a woman should be covered with cloth from head to toe even in the hottest of climates. But who in the West cares anyway! Just as long as they don’t blow us up it doesn’t matter!!

11/02/2006 12:03 PM  

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