The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yes ... you can

Gerald Vanderleun summarizes the feeling of many of us in the center who believe that:
… the current effort in Iraq and the Middle East to counter and expunge Islamic terrorism and turn Islam from the road it is on towards one of reformation and assimilation is the best path that can be taken at this time. Indeed, for all the ineptitude of the current administration, for all the expense in treasure and lives, this shoot-the-moon, Hail Mary of a foreign policy in Iraq is not just a policy to make America safer at home. It is the only thing that stands between Islam and its own destruction.

It’s the last sentence that really matters. In his brilliantly constructed piece – read the whole thing -- Vanderleun argues:
One solution, commonly referenced as "the Left/Liberal" position is essentially "leave them alone and they'll come home. They know it’s for their own good." The other solution, "the Right/Conservative" position, is to force assimilation, modernization, reformation and democratic mechanisms upon Islam "for its own good."

The two positions agree that "something must be done." They differ only in their specifications for "a New!, Improved! Islam" that can play well with other religions and nations in the post-modern world where "business as usual" is worshipped more than any other state of affairs. Both positions, whether they focus on "giving" the benefits of the modern world to the West's Islamic populations spread out in its cities and nations, or "bringing" the same benefits to the center of Islamic mass in the Middle East, share the belief that Islam can be "fixed" …

In short, both sides think that in some way "Islam is broken." Is it?

Finding myself in neither political camp, it strikes me that Islam -- especially if you look at the fertility rates of Muslims, mosque construction and attendance, and the retention and conversion of the faithful around the globe -- is doing just fine. It strikes me that a religion that doesn't view itself as broken is unlikely to take kindly to the notion that it needs fixing. Still, that's the proposition advanced by both camps in our broken and shattered society. But it is a proposition that is advanced only sotto voce, in whispers, because to ask, right out loud, if Islam wants to be "fixed" or indeed can be "fixed," is to know the answer in the act of asking.

The answer is a resounding "No." And that brings the persistent background question, "Oh, my, whatever shall WE do with THEM?" into sharp relief in the foreground of Western minds. If history is any guide that is the single most dangerous question one group of humans can ask about another. It is a question no sane member of the West nor sane member of Islam would ever want thrust into the foreground, for it begins the process of transforming a group with whom a society lives in peace into the "Others" with whom a society cannot live in peace.

And there’s the rub. If we don’t do something now to stop Islam’s march toward radicalism, we set the stage for horrible consequences – not for us, but for Islam. What worries me isn’t our own hubris, it's the growing confidence (hubris) of the Islamofascists. They believe they are winning and given that belief, they will push harder and harder. Until they do something that becomes a tipping point – something that threatens the West at a visceral level, that roils our economic system, that causes pain, not just to those who are directly affected, but to almost everyone. When that happened, Islam will become the “other” and the West will act with a ferocity that is unthinkable today.

Vanderleun concludes with the following comment:
Sometime shortly after 9/11 in an online forum I frequented then, an exasperated idealist proclaimed that "After all, you can't kill a billion Muslims." Like so many others he spoke from somewhere outside History. History, especially the world's most recent history, shows us all how wrong that statement is. The hard truth is rather that, "Yes, if you really want to, you can."

And that is the most terrible and terrorizing thought of the 21st century.