Monday, August 30, 2010

A Perverse Thanks for the Ground Zero Issue

Thanks, Faisal Abdul Rauf, for your Ground Zero mosque proposal.

As distasteful as your proposal is, it’s finally bringing Islam to the forefront of our discussions.

For nearly a decade – maybe longer -- people of goodwill have been tiptoeing around this, afraid of appearing bigoted, afraid of violating their spirit as Americans.

And yet…

And yet, people have had a real discomfort about what they have been observing. Something has been not quite right. Something has been gnawing at them about Islam and its motives.

The Ground Zero mosque (or community center or whatever it is) is forcing us to look directly in the face of what Islam is about. Despite what its apologists say, Islam is not benign. It is not a religion of peace. In fact, it’s not really a religion as we understand it.

Finally we are awakening to the fact that we are in a struggle. And it’s not a struggle between two civilizations. It’s a struggle between civilization and barbarism. And it’s been going on well over a thousand years.

Europe has already gone further down the road on this, in terms of what they have lost and in terms of what they are doing about it. Both sides of that coin are distasteful. On the one side of the coin are the results of the latter-day Islamic incursion into Europe. Read the book “While Europe Slept.” In it, author Bruce Bawer describes leaving the United States to live in Europe. Although he professes ongoing love for his country, Bawer, as a gay liberal New Yorker, envisions Europe as somewhat of a progressive higher order, free of the uncouth backwardness of the U. S. But he discovers all is not perfect in Europe. And then, in shock, he watches the continuing surrender that Europeans, bound by political correctness, are making to the Muslim minority. By the time he returns to the States, Bawer’s expression of appreciation of what we have in America makes it seem as though he has morphed into a Rush Limbaugh. Bawer has seen that the advancement of Islam into Europe – one side of the coin – is not pretty.

Then there’s the other side: what Europe is doing about it.

Again, it’s not pretty. Belgium and France have outlawed the burqa. Spain is considering it. That seems extreme, but Europeans are becoming reactionary – in the literal sense of the word – because they’ve allowed too much to slide too long. The correct thing to do? Debatable. But some Europeans are recognizing that Islam is unlike other belief systems. And there is a 13-hundred year trail of blood as evidence.

Which brings us to Ground Zero.

First of all, this is not a First Amendment issue. No one is calling for the outlawing of a building whose purpose its developers claim is religious. There is a First Amendment right to build such a structure.

But there is also a First Amendment right to criticize such a plan (despite the call by the Speaker of the House for investigation of those who object).

The central issue is that Faisal Abdul Rauf and his backers are ignoring American sensitivities by putting an Islamic symbol in the location where the United States was attacked in the name of Islam.

That’s the issue.

And it tells us that despite our best efforts to paint a happy face on Islam, to treat it as harmless, our suspicions are correct: Islam is all about itself. It is a belief system of conquest and all who oppose it are infidels that must be crushed.

There is no compromise, there is no appeasement. You will be assimilated. Or crushed.

That’s what we are dealing with.

In putting its symbol on the wound of its attack on us, Islam is telling the world that it is continuing its conquest of the West and especially the Great Satan.

And in a perverse way, in all of this Rauf et al. have done us a favor.

Because now we have no excuse for ignoring the threat of Islam.

There’s much more to say on this. Questions arise, of course. What about individual Muslims, the people we know who are neighbors and friends and co-workers? What about them, some who themselves live in fear of those enforcing the harsher aspects of Islamic doctrine? What issues do we need to begin thinking about in regards to the First Amendment and freedom of religion as applied to Islam? What of the issues of the rights of Muslim women in a pluralistic society? Finally, for those of us who are Christians, what is to be our attitude, bearing, and response to Muslims, people to whom we have the obligation of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Heavy stuff. And those are future issues about which I will be posting on this blog. We’ve put these things off too long -- they are issues we need to be discussing.

Again, in a perverse way, thanks, Faisal Abdul Rauf, for helping us to get focused.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

With Apologies to Dietrich Bonhoeffer

First, they came for the coal miners, but I wasn’t a coal miner, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the bankers, but I was not a banker, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the car dealers, but I wasn’t a car dealer, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the auto companies, but I had nothing to do with the auto companies, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the insurance companies, but I wasn’t in the insurance business, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the medical professionals, but I’m not a medical professional, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for my grandchildren’s money, but I don’t have grandchildren, so I didn’t speak out.

Then they came for the very air I breathe.

Without air, how can I speak?