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by Christopher Chantrill
September 18, 2006 at 4:43 am
WE HAVE ALL enjoyed tut-tutting about the Muslim cultural practice of dhimmitude, the notion that under Islam the infidel is a second-class citizen and must defer to the faithful at all times. No eating and drinking in front of the faithful during Ramadan, for example.
But it is clear from the events of the last week that dhimmitude is here right now.
Id never had much time for Oriana Fallaci, the outrageous Italian interviewer and journalist, but appreciated her diatribes against Islam in the years since 9/11 and wrinkled my nose to learn that she was being sued for insulting the faith. But the head of the Italian journalists union marked her death last week by saying that she was a
great, courageous and scrupulous journalist but also an intellectual whose most recent views were unacceptable and in many respects dangerous.
What can you call that but dhimmitude?
Then there is the flap over the popes remarks at the University of Regensburg. In a scholarly speech on September 12, 2006 that primarily defended the idea of Jesus Christ as the living God, Pope Benedict XVI raised the question that ought to be the central question that Christians ask of Muslims. What is with all this holy war stuff? He quoted the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus:
Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...
The Christian God is a reasonable God, he asserts, the Word made flesh. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent, independent of reason or anything else. Then he heads off into a learned apology for the Christian God, the union of the Hebrew prophetic tradition and the Hellenistic logos.
Since it is merely a couple of weeks since two Fox News reporters were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islamwithout a peep of outrage from the moderate Muslim communityId say that it was the popes bounden duty to raise the question of jihad with the Muslim world. If the head of the Catholic Church wont do it who will?
But the international media was united in condemning the popes remarks as a gaffe, an insult to Islam. And now the pope says he is sorry.
That was when the scales fell off my eyes. Whats all the fuss? We have the same system here in the United States. Call it liberal dhimmitude. Every conservative lives under its oppressive yoke. Disagree with the liberal line and you better expect to be attacked and humiliated.
Lets you and him fight. Thats how the system works. The progressive left stirs up a conflict and blames the international middle class. Maybe its Marx blaming the bourgeoisie for the subsistence wages of the industrial working class. Maybe its Lenin claiming that every European is an imperialist. Maybe its liberals dividing black and white in the United States with racial quotas, or declaring upper-middle-class women the victim of the species. Now liberals are united in protecting Muslims from insult and tossing away our tradition of free speech. The only thing that matters is to make westernersor Christians, or Americanstake the blame, to make them into dhimmi, second-class citizens afraid to stand up for the Christian God, the rule of law, and the bounty of the market.
If you read the Popes speech at Regensburg carefully you can appreciate the radicalism of the Christian message. The idea that God is a rational God, who invites us to discover His nature through an exploration of reason, is radical. It makes the claim that, in the end, we will find out that the universe makes sense. It is the same claim that western science makes, that we can understand the universe by discovering its laws. Both Christianity and science are grounded in the same faith, that there are indeed laws that describe the universe.
But Islam and western postmodernism make a different claim. For them there is no In the beginning was the Word, the logos of reason. There is only power: divine power or secular power.
The Chinese have a different take on the modern world. According to David Aiken in Jesus in Beijing, the Chinese have been wondering for generations what it is about the west that makes it so powerful. Now Dr. Wu of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says that they have found us out.
In the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful.
That is also what Pope Benedict XVI is trying to say.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State