NEW YORK -- They stood on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, looking west to Manhattan, toward the fires that had turned the horizon a bright orange that rose to great heights against a perfect, pitiless blue sky. Observing this terrible beauty, the residents of the neighborhood danced in the streets, laughing, shouting to each other, shaking hands. These people were not what one would suppose to be fanatical or militant Muslims. They were people who had come to these shores from the Middle East, mostly shopkeepers, bakers, purveyors of eastern spices, tradesmen, cab drivers and the usual diversity of people found in a New York ethnic neighborhood on a warm fall weekday.
They were American citizens, however, expressing their judgment -- joy -- at the events of that horrible day that forever changed our world and America's place in that world. They were also the followers of Islam: religion of oppression, discrimination, violence, terror, war, superstition, intolerance and prejudice. They were the followers of a religion of hate who, at the very least, if not active participants in the events of that world-changing day, took unashamed pleasure in the violence visited upon those -- including their fellow citizens and neighbors -- who did not share their beliefs.
The President has said about Islam:
"...Islam inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity and morality/." (12/5/02)
"...It's a faith based on love, not hate." (9/10/02)
"The Islam that we know...teaches the value and the importance of charity, mercy and peace." (11/15/01)
Well, he is the President, and like Tony Blair, probably has to say these sorts of things in the belief that they have to be said, because to declare otherwise would threaten the maintenance of order or provoke an outraged citizenry to retaliate in a vengeful and illegal way, jeopardizing domestic tranquillity. We have no such impediment and trust that the truth can only serve to enlighten and not to incite.
Islam exists as it is taught in the Koran and lived by Muhammad. Muhammad, by the way, was hardly an example that one would wish to emulate. He had affairs with maids and slave girls and was also a pedophile --and before we get outraged e-mails on the latter point, here is chapter and verse: the girl's name was Aisha, she was 9, he was 53. He was also involved in the slave trade, assassinations, and genocide. But, what the heck, nobody is perfect.
Let's, as the sportscasters say, go to the record book, which, in this case is the Koran.
"Kill the disbelievers wherever we find them." (2:191)
"Fight and slay the pagans [translation: that's us], seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem." (9:5)
Further apropos disbelievers, "...garments of fire shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowels and skin shall be dissolved and they will be punished with hooked iron rods." (22:19).
The Koran also instructs Muslims to slay or crucify or cut the hands and the feet of the unbelievers (5:33), fight unbelievers until no other religion except Islam remains.
Given these basic teachings of Islam there is little reason to be surprised at the recent beheading of Americans taken hostage.
OF COURSE, NOT ALL MUSLIMS participate in violence or even express joy at the perpetration of violence against the West in general, or Americans in particular, just as all Germans in the forties did not believe when they heard their anthem, Deutschland uber alles, that it meant literally that Germany must conquer all other nations. Some Germans embraced a passive longing for Germany to be victorious; some few actually despised fascism, and some, an almost non-existent few, acted against it. So it is with Islam and the Muslims. About the best the civilized world can expect is a joyous but passive reaction to the mindless violence.
Empires have come and gone. Rome, Portugal, France, Holland, Germany and even in our time, Great Britain, have seen their moment of world dominance -- have seen it flicker, and then, extinguish. And yet, they accepted it as part of the panorama of history, and have moved on. Not so with Islam.
It is not by accident that our enemies call the coalition forces in Iraq the Crusaders. To Islam the war, which they lost centuries ago, continues.* The enemy is not really the United States, nor even Israel. The enemy is modernity itself and the forces of change that have made them irrelevant. The West has persevered and they have lost. They are the have-nots, and to the degree that they have the economic power of oil, even this has been denied to them as a society by the corruption of their own despotic rulers. They are the past in a present and future that belongs to the West. There is a chord that joins them with other losers like Lee Harvey Oswald and Lee Boyd Malvo, devoid of any distinction or ability to even control their own lives, who strike out in spasms of hate-filled rage.
Muslims, married to a failed past, offer little hope for integration into modern society. Israel giving them land to which they are not entitled, or the United States not punishing them for criminal acts, will not assuage their rage. America must learn it cannot negotiate or reason with people who consider us infidels. It must recognize that the enemy is often among us and all the exposure available to them in Western civilization with its tolerances and respect for individual rights will not affect their seething anger at imagined wrongs, injustices, and illogical sense of entitlement.
Historically, use of strength, swift and certain punishment, and resolve of purpose are all that is left us to effectively deal with their primitive madness. And until we recognize this, there will be many more beheadings and September elevenths.