Time to Tell the Truth About Islam
by WILLIAM KILPATRICK
The important thing about a religion, said C.S. Lewis, is not whether it makes one feel good, but whether it is true. This observation came to mind while reading a recent piece by Jesuit Father James Schall, titled “Speaking Honestly About Islam.”
Father Schall suggests that we haven’t been telling the truth about Islam because to do so violates the feel-good principle that currently rules Western societies. According to the feel-good principle, self-esteem is the highest value. And, therefore, every person, culture and religion has an inalienable right to feel good about oneself/itself.
People hew to the Islam-is-peace line because they don’t want to give offense and also because they don’t want to be accused of a hate crime. It’s a well-founded fear.
In many Western societies, numerous individuals — and some of them very prominent individuals — have been put on trial for the crime of criticizing Islam: Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant in Canada, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Lars Hedegaard in Denmark and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria, to name a few. In several cases, the defendants were informed that truth was no defense. The accuracy of their criticism, they were told, was beside the point (the point being that they had said hurtful things).
Honesty is the best policy, according to the old maxim, but many Western governments have adopted a deliberate policy of prevarication in regard to Islam. Hardly a day goes by when some Western leader or other isn’t explaining away the latest jihad attack as having nothing to do with Islam.
It’s not that leaders are doing nothing about the problem of jihad. A number of European countries have belatedly launched de-radicalization programs aimed at countering jihadist ideology. For example, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced a five-year plan to defeat Islamic extremism.
The trouble with these programs is that they can’t let go of the lie. The central feature of most of these initiatives is the enlistment of moderate Muslims in a campaign to convince potential jihadists that Islam has nothing to do with jihad (or else to convince them that jihad, correctly understood, is nothing more than an interior spiritual struggle).
This puts the Muslim leaders who are willing to sign up for such campaigns in a difficult spot. They are in essence trying to defend a largely indefensible position. While it’s true that Islam can be practiced peacefully (and, thank God, that’s the way most Muslims practice it), that can only be done by ignoring some of Islam’s fundamental teachings. As Father Schall observes, “It is senseless to pretend that a jihadist vision is not found in the Quran.”