Barack Obama explained that he doesn’t use the term „radical Islam“ in order not to scare off moderate Muslims.
I don’t get it. Moderate Muslims are the ones who suffer most from radical Islam. If they are emancipated women, they are stoned by radical Islamists; if they are gay, they get thrown from rooftops; and if they are moderate critics, they get flogged or are killed.
Barack Obama asks: „What good would it do if I use the term ‘radical Islam’?“
I’d like to answer President Obama:
By using the term he’d recognize that radical Islam is a problem within Islam. The hateful interpretations of the Koran and the murderous consequences can only be stopped by Muslims themselves. It’s solely their responsibility.
Whoever tries to separate Islamism and Islam, might as well try to separate alcoholism from alcohol. Just as an alcoholic must first recognize his problem before he can be helped, an Islamist must first recognize his problem. Indeed, alcohol means peace!
Although Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and I can agree that Islam means peace, none of us are Muslims. It’s not the task of Christians and Jews to explain what Islam means. Muslims need to do that! Although not just a few Muslims define Islam as meaning peace, I can’t ignore the millions of Muslim voices that tell the world, there can only be peace within Islam and that those who do not belong to the ummah must be suppressed and killed in order to keep that peace. No other religion currently unites so many people behind government-sponsored hatred and intolerance as Islam. All seven countries where homosexuality is punishable by death are run exclusively by Islamic governments: Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria.
Despite President Obama, Senator Clinton, Senator Sanders and my telling ourselves repeatedly that Islam means peace, we as non-Muslims must at least acknowledge that all the seven Muslim heads of state where homosexuals are executed, women are oppressed and Jews persecuted, have quite a different understanding of Islam. Besides those seven countries, there are many more Islamic countries that hardly meet even minimal requirements for protection of human rights. What about the millions of Muslims who swear by these policies in the name of Islam? Do western Christian politicians know better than Muslims living in Islamic states what Islam means? Wouldn’t that be a form of arrogant Western imperialism?
Actually, I don’t care what Islam means. People can believe what they want as long as they don’t endanger the lives of others!
I’m sure that Islam could mean peace, because in every spiritual belief there resides the possibility of peace – some more than others. But only Muslims can determine what constitutes Islam, and Barack Obama is not a Muslim. As President of the United States of America, his religious beliefs are irrelevant; his faith is a private matter. His job as President is to defend the Constitution, whereby the First Amendment declares:
„Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.“
There are thus only two possible official stances the American President may take in regard to religions: ignore them or fight them. He must remain neutral towards all faiths American citizens live out peacefully. He may not allow any laws for or against them. For that reason alone, Donald Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims is unconstitutional. However, the President must fight with all his power any individuals and groups who oppose the US Constitution!
It’s not the duty of the President to officially explain the meaning of Islam. Only Muslims can do that! We can listen to them.
Far too often I hear that those who decapitate people, stone women, hang homosexuals and slaughter Jews, shout out Allah’s name and claim their deeds conform to Islam. Many Muslims around the world celebrate and distribute sweets after such vile acts. Those Muslims who wage war and kill people must be seen by those who define Islam as meaning peace to be significantly worse than those who burn copies of the Koran.
Every time someone somewhere in the world criticizes Islam, parodies Mohammed or makes a silly film about Muslims, the outcry in the Muslim world is huge. When Islamists defile humanity with their horrific deeds and cite Allah, the outrage should be comparatively many times more immense!
Islam can be reformed from within! Christianity, too, was reformed from within.
However, reform movements often lead to war and violence. Protestants and Catholics were so unforgiving during the Thirty Years War then as are Sunnis and Shiites are today. Moreover, precisely the reform movements were characterized as being particularly anti-Jewish. The most despicable Christian writings calling for the destruction of synagogues and the burning of Torah scrolls was written by Martin Luther.
Christianity has a long history of violence. Courageous people who denounced the violence were often insulted and called heretics. Today, they would be called “christophobe” and termed racists because not every Christian is equal. And, by the way, Christianity means love.
Bertrand Russell wrote early in the 20th century:
“The Christians assure us that their religion is a religion of love, but the adoption of Christianity by Constantine did nothing to reduce war, and in our day, many of the most fanatic warmongers are Christians.“
“You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world.”
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a century earlier:
„The Christian faith from the beginning is sacrifice, the sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of spirit; it is at the same time subjection, self-derision, and self-mutilation.“
„Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.“
„I condemn Christianity; I raise against the Christian church the most terrible of all accusations that has ever taken in prosecutor in his mouth. It is me the highest of all conceivable corruptions. She has made every value, worthless, of every truth a lie, from any righteousness a Soul infamy.“
„Christianity is the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and small enough – I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race.“
Heinrich Heine explained in the same century:
“If your right eye offends you, pluck it out. If your right arm offends you, cut it off. And if reason offends you, become a Catholic.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau said a century ago:
“Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is so favorable to tyranny that it always profits by such a régime. True Christians are made to be slaves.”
I have many Christian friends. When I ask them what they think of the homophobic and misogynistic passages in the Bible, they tell me that the Bible is just a book and those passages can’t be taken literally, and that there is indeed a lot silly stuff in the Bible. Some of my studied Christian friends recommend a „historical-critical exegesis“ approach to understanding the Bible.
If an ideology can’t be criticized, then it’s totalitarian. Whether Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or communism, the right to criticize and laugh at beliefs ensures they remain human. Whoever says that the soldier Mohammed, who lived about one and a half thousand years ago, shouldn’t be caricatured, but is silent when a baker in Mecca is executed because he converted to Christianity, is truly a fundamentalist fanatic and deserves to be criticized.
It’s time the self-aggrandizing in Islam is questioned. That will only be possible through education and criticism, with mockery and scorn! What the world needs are more caricatures of Mohammed, as Voltaire’s cartoons provoked the Christian world. We need mental hammers to crush Islam, as Nietzsche once pounded Christianity. Was that Islamophobic? Was the Enlightenment christophobe?
Of course not! It’s an enlightenment which must come from moderate Muslims. Therefore, we must use the term „radical Islam“ for only Muslims can decide the direction Islam may take. I can only watch with awe and fear, and hope that the enlightened world is well prepared for the inevitable escalations that occur when religions are questioned.
Those who refuse to use the term „radical Islam“ are swindling Muslims from promoting precisely the same development that Christianity had made and continually makes. Enlightenment is painful! However, anyone who thinks he has to protect Muslims from this pain precludes Muslims as being inherently weak, stupid or incompetent. Those who want to protect Muslims from criticism, are in fact, insinuating they are mentally incompetent and intellectually incapable of dealing with criticism, scorn and ridicule. That’s pure racism!
What Christians endured for the sake of freedom and enlightenment, Muslims can also endure, because I “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
(Translation: William Wires)