Were the whole truth revealed we would discover a number of organizations with elevated levels of ignorance and uncontrollable extremists. Islam is apparently one of those groups.
We hear "Islam is a religion of peace." We also hear "Islam is light, and love, and truth." And yet a trumped up and deliberately exaggerated story sets off an ignorant minority and an international incident takes place (if I remember correctly WWI was percipitated by just such an event).
Still, by way of comparison, recall that three years ago Palestinian Arab terrorists occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Priests reported that "gunmen tore up Bibles for toilet paper," according to the Daily Camera of Boulder, Colo. The Chicago Tribune noted after the siege that "altars had been turned into cooking and eating tables, a sacrilege to the religious faithful."
Christians in the U.S. responded by declining to riot and refraining from killing anyone. They had the same response 15 or so years ago when the National Endowment for the Arts was subsidizing the scatological desecration of a crucifix and other Christian symbols. Indeed. This should also put to rest the oft-heard calumny that America's "religious right" is somehow a Christian equivalent of our jihadi enemies.
Was it not a Muslim extremist who attempted to assinate the leader of the world's Catholics? Did I miss the riots that ensued? How many were killed? How many Mosques were burned? How many Catholic priests packed the kids' backpacks full of dynamite and sent them to the local falafel shop?
What's the difference here? In my opinion there are three differences:
- The rule of law; the foundation for that law being natural law.
- The power of the people to control their government; the foundation for that power coming from the people's freedom to choose their own officials.
- The existence of an informed people; the foundation for this is freedom of information -- both individuals and organizations are free from the control of others when it comes to being informed.
That is one reason I loved Hugh Hewitt's book "Blog"; in it he shared his belief that the Internet -- specifically the Blogosphere -- was self-cleansing, self-purging, and self-informing.
Apparently, the Blogosphere is better at civilized behavior than the whole of the Muslim world; Islam is not self-cleansing, self-purging, or even self-informing.
- Because Muslim law is not based on natural law, minority adherents are disposed to irrational and inconsistent behavior mitigated by a non-regulated third party's interpretation of their law; this creates pockets of people with extremist views.
- Because the governments of Muslim nations control the people, Islamic officials tend to be socialistic despots and dictators -- who control the people through fear and intimidation.
- Because despots and dictators cannot allow for an informed people, all information is filtered at several levels -- this maintains a principally ignorant minority if not a majority.
In fairness, I believe history will reveal that every time a group with a fundamental Judeo-Christian world-view abandons any one of these elements an ignorant, extremist minority takes over and horrible things result (e.g., the Crusades, Jonestown, apartheid, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the 400+ years old conflict between Irish Catholics and Protestants, etc.) .
I believe God provided us with Natural Law in order that His people would have an intense need for the rule of law and for individual liberty; I believe the framers of our system of government understood this.
That said, because Muslim people function in the way they do, and because our system of government is a republican form of democracy, I don't think Dubbya's push for democracy in the Middle East has a snowball's chance of succeeding. All it will do is postpone the inevitable: either we will have a real WWIII or Islam will slowly beat the "Judeo-Christian" west into cultural capitulation and disintegration.