Saturday, 11 September 2010

Saturday of Our Lady

And a day to remember the start of the new wave of attacks by Islamic forces directly on the West.  Please pray for the repose of all those who gave died at the hands of Islamic terrorists in America, the UK, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  Requiem  aeternam.

And given media reports today of rising "intolerance" of Islam, it seems useful to make a few points.

A little primer.

1. Islam is a religion not a race.

To criticise or even attack Islam is not 'racist' and as media reports persist in stating and a vast literature claims.

Muslims come from many countries and cultures.

And the danger in Australia is as much from homegrown fanatics (converts often tend to be extremists) as immigrants, as most Australians should be all too well aware.

Australia has enough real racism to contend with (above all directed against our Indigenous population) without needing to invent a variety.

2. Being opposed or worried about the influence of Islam in Australia is not 'Islamophobia'

According to the wikipedia, "A phobia (from the Greek: φόβος,phóbos, meaning "fear" or "morbid fear") is an irrational, intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus." The key word here is irrational.

It is perfectly rational to be concerned about the rise of Islam in Australia given that Australians have already died at the hands of Islamic jihadists in Bali, our courts have dealt with local terrorist plots, our soldiers are fighting them in Afghanistan, many mosques in Australia demonstrably continue to preach violence and intolerance of Australian Christian values, and Muslim groups are lobbying for increased recognition of sharia law.

It is true of course that not every Muslim is about to lob a bomb on the street. By virtue of the tenets of their religion though, every practicing Muslim is committed to making their country an Islamic State.

3.  Religious tolerance does not mean we have to 'approve' of  Islam.

The SMH breathlessly reports that "A Washington Post-ABC poll this week found 49 per cent of Americans disapproved of Islam, the highest level since 2001. The lowest was 24 per cent in 2002."

But approval or disapproval is surely not the issue if all you are concerned about is whether or not people are free to practice their religion in a secular state.  I rather suspect a similar proportion disapprove of Scientology, and probably the Pope.  That doesn't mean the US (or Australia) is about to prohibit them from worshipping.

4.  Symbolism matters.

Why does the battle over the burqa, the Ground Zero mosque and similar issues matter?  Because although Catholics temporarily forgot this fundamental lesson about humanity for a few decades, Muslims have not forgotten that symbolism matters.  Visible reminders of a proselyting faith are important to Muslims...because they help proselytize (and I use that word, now on the Vatican's verbotten list for catholics, advisedly).

5.  Islam is a religion of faith alone, not reason

A fundamental point that the Pope made in his infamous Regensberg Address that bears repeating.  Think about it.

Photo: REUTERS: Sara K. Schwittek


Anonymous said...

The criticisms you make of Islam could just as well apply to the so-called Christian Right in the US - hostile to reason and addicted to an apocalyptic cult of cleansing violence.

I never cease to be amazed at the insouciance with which Bush, Blair and Howard carry on their conscience the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis in a war launched on two grounds - WMD and the alleged affinity between AQ and Saddam - which were utterly bogus. The former head of M15 has gone in public with her view that the Iraq war contributed to radicalisation.

It is no coincidence that John-Paul II and the then Cardinal Ratzinger opposed the war. There is no way of justifying it that doesn't involve rank consequentialism.

Terra said...

Anon - Please give yourself a name if you wish to post here - I've let it through this time only.

I don't necessarily disagree with you on evangelical christianity in so far as commitment ot reason goes - the sola scriptura mentality doesn't usually include reason as one of its planks.

But beyond that there is really no comparison. Evangelicals do not go around imposing the equivalent of sharia law for example.

Did Iraq pass the just war test? In retrospect clearly not. Did it at the time? In my personal opinion, no, but I think it was a judgment call that was publicly debated and on which people could genuinely take different views.

But either way, there is no comparison between that decision, in my opinion, which clearly was in the (admittedly totally misguided) hope of getting rid of an evil (even if perhaps not for the reasons publicly enunciated), and violence which has no justification other than to induce terror.