Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The culture that dares not speak its name 

Local writer and professor of criminal justice Dick Andzenge gives his view that the culture war in America is making us less safe in our war against militant Islam.
We are scared to define our conflict as one against Islam, while the enemy is not shy about referring to its soldiers as jihadis....

While we have refused to join the cultural war, we do not only undermine it, we may actually be surrendering to it.

We continue to tell the world that we are only fighting extremists and continue to look for other euphemistic terms to describe the enemy. If terrorists are extremists defiling the "peace-loving" Muslims of the world, then why don't the millions of peace-loving Muslims rise against them? ...

The concept of jihad that has a central stage in Islam has no counterpart in Christian orthodoxy. While the life of a Christian is seen as one of perpetual spiritual warfare against evil, Islam sees its warfare as both spiritual and physical.

Islamic faith is spread by verbal, cultural and physical persuasion or coercion. There is no similar notion of turning the other cheek or of loving your enemies in Islam. The history and identity of Islam is synonymous with political, cultural and military struggle.

Recently, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 al-Qaida leader, offered a truce that was contingent on America converting to Islam. Many of us laughed it off as a joke. We may not take al-Zawahiri seriously, but Muslims worldwide have used the ongoing war to preach the virtues of Islam and to make many converts. Many of these converts are not Arab. They are Western converts.

Why do we label self-martyring and wholly committed Muslims as "extremists" or as "fanatics"? Perhaps, it is to help us feel better about our lack of commitment and indifference to our own faith. It has become fashionable in many Western countries to claim to be atheists or to ridicule people of faith. As we surrender our Christian heritage and close our eyes to the real war, we risk losing not only the war on terrorism but our own identity.

While watching Special Report last night I heard Kondracke and Barnes debate whether using the phrase "Islamic fascists" was correct. Kondracke's argument was pragmatic -- if using the phrase is driving more people into terrorism against the US, we should stop it. But he could not deny that it was indeed fascism, practiced almost exclusively by Muslims. "I want to win this war," he said, to which Barnes answered facetiously, "I want to win this crusade." The point Dick raises though is that we are unwilling to defend our own culture by our very reluctance to name our enemy, because we are unwilling to hold up our own faith, and demonstrate our commitment to it.