If Jerry Falwell had described Quakerism as a violent religion, would Quakers have rioted? Would Quaker preachers have called for his death?
No, because it is not a religion with violent elements. But calling Islam a religion of war is dangerous precisely because elements of violence reside in it. The violent Islamic reaction to Falwell’s remarks tends to confirm their validity.
“Shiite Muslim clerics in Lebanon and Iran reacted with rage to Falwell’s remarks, and an envoy of Iran’s supreme leader called for his death,” reported CBS. “Iranian cleric Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari, addressing weekly Friday prayers in the northwestern town of Tabriz, said the Rev. Jerry Falwell was a ‘mercenary and must be killed,’ the Farsi-language daily Abrar reported Saturday.”
Why is it so politically and diplomatically necessary from the PC point of view to call Islam a religion of peace? Because in many quarters it isn’t one. We must all pretend that it is a religion of peace so as not to provoke war.
The requisite apology has now been extracted from Falwell. So we can now safely resume our slumbers.
The West used to condemn Islam and promote Christianity. Now it condemns Christianity and promotes Islam.
The consensus of the entire Christian West for centuries was that Mohammed spread his religion through arms. But in our suicidal sophistication this is no longer an acceptable thought. Falwell is a boob and a bigot, and that’s that.
Apparently Edward Gibbon was also gravely confused in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when he described Mohammed as a man of arms. Gibbon called him an “eloquent fanatic,” said that his “operation of force and persuasion, of enthusiasm and fear, continually acted on each other till every barrier yielded to the [Muslims],” and observed that “his voice invited the Arabs to freedom and victory, to arms and rapine, to the indulgence of their darling passions in this world and the other.”
Poor Gibbon. He just didn’t have the benefit of a subscription to the New York Times. Now he would know that Mohammed was a seventh-century Gandhi.
And what can be said of Thomas Aquinas and Hilaire Belloc? In Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas describes Islam as a false and dangerous religion, which combines truths with “fables,” twists the Old and New Testaments into a “fabrication” of Mohammed’s own, and seduces “people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us.”
Aquinas said Mohammed’s claim as God’s prophet rested on the “powers of his arms” — not a very convincing sign of holiness since it is a sign not “lacking even to robbers and tyrants.”
Nor was Aquinas impressed by Mohammed’s followers: “Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Mohammed forced others to become his follower’s by the violence of his arms.”
Belloc said the same, writing that Islam began “with the attack of a very few thousand desert horsemen, who were as much drawn by desire for loot as by their enthusiasm for new doctrines… There was no organization, and the moment the first bands had succeeded in battle, the leaders began fighting among themselves: not only fighting, but murdering… The Mohammedan temper was not tolerant. It was, on the contrary, fanatical and bloodthirsty. It felt no respect for, nor even curiosity about, those from whom it differed. It was absurdly vain of itself, regarding with contempt the high Christian culture about it. It still so regards it even today.”
Today’s Western intellectuals know better. They are sure that Islam can be squeezed into their own worldview as long as everyone negotiates with Muslim countries and speaks nicely about them.
Western intellectuals have found a new totalitarianism to be dupes for, and a new outlet for hatred of their own culture. Jerry Falwell is a fool, they say. But what could be more foolish than assuming harsh truths will go way if you just ignore them?