Okay, I'll admit it. I recognize that I have become tee-totally obsessed with this whole Pope Benedict mess. I'm still stirred up about it and the thoughts that follow are far from a measured, calm response to the controversy.
My state of mind was not helped by yesterday's Dallas Morning News. The editorial headline read: "Pope was careless, but reaction is out of line." Although they did bemoan the disproportionate Islamic response, they saved plenty of advice for the pontiff, as well. The editor advised that Benedict should have "chosen a better example for a recent talk that has launched an international furor," and that "wisdom prescribed care and clarity in speaking of sensitive religious matters," concluding that "the current pope cannot afford another blunder like this one."
Careless? Blunder? What pure, unadulterated, pandering crap this is! As I have stated here and elsewhere, I am convinced that Pope Benedict's words were carefully chosen and he said exactly what he intended to say. I do not know his exact reasons for doing so, but they were no careless blunder. Ochlophobist has some fascinating speculation as to his motivations.
And then over at Dreher's Crunchy Con, I found a link to this about the planned "Day of Rage" this coming Friday, in which Muslims will vent their outrage over Pope Benedict's remarks. Oh, so you mean, the last week of rage hasn't been enough? I would suggest a counter "Day" in the West. I'm not sure what we should call it. Maybe "Day of Get-over-it-already" or maybe "Day of Grow-up!" or perhaps "Day of You-Call-That-A-Religion?" I don't know.
And yet, there are hopeful signs of dawning awareness in the West; perhaps a belated recognition of the adversary we face. By this I mean that some of the secular Left, who in former days would counsel "dialogue" and "understanding" and "sensitivity," now view this as the insipid pandering that it often is. Case in point (and a hat tip to my friend Milton) is Sam Harris, a left-leaning atheist whose latest book was entitled The End of Faith. He writes:
But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith. On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right. This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are. A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise. Unfortunately, such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope....Such an astonishing eruption of masochistic unreason could well mark the decline of liberalism, if not the decline of Western civilization. The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world's Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam. This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This benighted religious solidarity may be the greatest problem facing civilization and yet it is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated by liberals....We are entering an age of unchecked nuclear proliferation and, it seems likely, nuclear terrorism. There is, therefore, no future in which aspiring martyrs will make good neighbors for us. Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies....To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization. For the full story, read here.
And then there is Anne Applebaum, writing in the Washington Post:
Western politicians, writers, thinkers and speakers should stop apologizing -- and start uniting. By this, I don't mean that we all need to rush to defend or to analyze this particular sermon; I leave that to experts on Byzantine theology. But we can all unite in our support for freedom of speech -- surely the pope is allowed to quote from medieval texts -- and of the press. And we can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies and elderly nuns. By "we" I mean here the White House, the Vatican, the German Greens, the French Foreign Ministry, NATO, Greenpeace, Le Monde and Fox News -- Western institutions of the left, the right and everything in between. True, these principles sound pretty elementary -- "we're pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence" -- but in the days since the pope's sermon, I don't feel that I've heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus. A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice. All of which is simply beside the point, since nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all. And maybe it's time that it should…
Indeed. Read the full article here.
And finally, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury adds his voice:
The former Archbishop of Canterbury...has issued his own challenge to “violent” Islam in a lecture in which he defends the Pope’s “extraordinarily effective and lucid” speech. Lord Carey said that Muslims must address “with great urgency” their religion’s association with violence. He made it clear that he believed the “clash of civilisations” endangering the world was not between Islamist extremists and the West, but with Islam as a whole. “We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times,” he said. “There will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths.” ...
Arguing that [Samuel] Huntington’s thesis has some “validity”, Lord Carey quoted him as saying: “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.” He said ... it was the “moral relativism of the West” that has outraged Muslim society. Most Muslims believe firmly that the invasion of Iraq is 2004 was solely about oil, he said. He went on to defend the Pope’s fundamental thesis, that reason and religious faith can be compatible. “The actual essay is an extraordinarily effective and lucid thesis exploring the weakness of secularism and the way that faith and reason go hand in hand,” he said. He said he agreed with his Muslim friends who claimed that true Islam is not a violent religion, but he wanted to know why Islam today had become associated with violence. “The Muslim world must address this matter with great urgency,” he said.
Read here for entire article.
End of rant.