Father Raymond de Souza, in Canada's National Post, fantastically and articulately discusses the completely irrational response of Muslims to the Pope's lengthy--and upon actual review--quite evenhanded discussion of religion, intolerance and faith-by-subjugation.
I am glad he apologized for the reaction of Muslims to his remarks, rather than for his remarks. It's time for us to recognize that there are no circumstances under which Islam (as its current loudest and scariest adherents practice it) and all other religions can coexist. The only solution is for moderate Muslims, those who say that Islam is a "religion of peace," to step up and take back their religion. I know Christians who, every day, in word and deed, work to mitigate the effects of the intolerant coreligionists who claim to know God's will. Where are the moderate Muslims? Are they afraid too?
Here in the USA--and especially on the Left--we need to separate the issues of Iraq/Bush/Israel and Islamist Jihad. The latter use the former as a "reason" for their depredations, but if we're honest we know that Israel could cease to exist, the US could leave every Middle Eastern and North African predominantly-Islamic nation, all the Jews, Christians and Hindus could be shipped to camps, George Bush could live in exile on Elba---and jihadis would still find reasons to carry out terror attacks in the West. And, as far more erudite commentators than I have pointed out, they would then focus their enmity and violence on Muslims who are not in their view holy enough. It's a slippery slope of appeasement toward a double-helix downward spiral of death and darkness.
Yeah, it's easier to believe that if we "just" do certain things or "just stop" doing certain things, that the world will become peace and sunshine and Islam will coexist happily with other religions, including no religion. But it's pure, unadulterated delusion to continue holding that belief. This is a scab that's gonna have to be ripped off and dealt with, or we are all screwed (and maybe we're all screwed regardless). There is no honor in being pacifist in the face of the destruction of western democracy and freedom. How long are we going to apologize for freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought because the very notion makes others angry?
Sure, if the Pope said that Judaism was a religion of nonsense and stupidity, I'd be plenty mad. But would I demand that he be beheaded? Would I say, "the very insinuation that Jews are stupid is justification for violence?" Did I lead a posse to Mel Gibson's house to torture and kill his family, then air the video on al-jazeera? It's crazy on its face.
The notion that our policies are causing this violence is mistaken. We've certainly done nothing to help the situation, but let's be honest: jihadis, by definition, ar at war. We've just given them some "moral" cover for doing it. To that end, we need to deal with our anger and exasperation at George Bush (and our guilt in the quagmire that is now Iraq) in all the ways that matter: get him and his henchmen out of office and refuse to allow the Congress to rubberstamp his attack on American freedoms. But what we CANNOT and MUST NOT do is play the nasty game of moral equivalency, ie, "well, GWB doesn't value freedom, so why should we be mad at jihadis who don't either?; The US has screwed up Iraq, so why should we be outraged at the violence pepetrated by those who claim to be angry too? Aren't we just as bad?"
Hellooooo? No. We're not. It's just that simple. I know I'll lose my lefty credentials with the following statement, but here it is: If you don't believe that we are more moral than people who behead innocents, who shoot nuns, who hide weapons in residential areas as human shields, who call for a clergy person to be beheaded and tortured because they perceive offense at his WORDS, then I'm not sure how to convince you otherwise. I'll just leave you with this quote from Winston Churchill:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.