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Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Cultural Relativism 
6th-Aug-2008 12:08 pm
The accusation:

Part of the Islamic belief-system is the proposition that one who insults Muhammad should be killed. That is why Muslims so easily resort to threats of violence against those who say things about Muhammad that they don't like. No sect of Christianity teaches that the one who insults Jesus should be killed. In fact, they all teach that one should be patient and charitable with opponents. That is why Christians do not generally resort to threats of violence against those who say things about Jesus that they don't like. There are nuts in every group, of course, and that's why I say "generally," but there is no sanction in the core teachings of the religion for such behavior. And that's why Reynolds's earlier assertion that "sooner or later, you know, fundamentalist Christians are going to pick up on this lesson, engage in similar behavior, and make similar demands" is almost certainly false. The most virulently fundamentalist Christian can find no sanction in Jesus' teaching for the murder of his opponents any more than anyone else can.

It does not make every Muslim a terrorist to point this out, and it isn't bigoted to do so, either. It is simply to state a series of facts -- and if anyone wishes to try to prove that the facts I have asserted here are false, I welcome the challenge. Meanwhile, the relativism of Glenn Reynolds and so many others continues to hinder our response to the jihad threat.

His answer:

Well, I believe in evolution, memetic as well as physical, and I think that if violence works, more people will use it, and the religious doctrine to justify that will follow. Am I right, or is Robert Spencer right? The world had better hope that Spencer is, since our spineless powers-that-be seem determined to conduct the experiment. . . .

And mine:

Mr. Reynolds, and you, are demonstrating the inferiority of Muslim culture: he ironically, you with all the earnest alarm at your command. Sadly, both of you have a good point.
6th-Aug-2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
It is a demonstrable fact that, historically, there have been variants of Christian doctrine that believed in the use of force against unbelievers to advance the Faith. It has not even been all that long since they were dominant within Christianity: the Thirty Years' War ended less than four centuries ago.

Christianity still spawns this doctrine from time to time, as witness the occasional terrorist acts against abortion providers. This kind of violence is rare within modern Christianity, as opposed to its near-constancy in modern Islam, but it happens often enough to make it clear that it is still exists as a possibility.

If the Establishments of the West continue to yield to the threat of Muslim violence, eventually they will also begin yielding to the threat of Christian violence, Jewish violence, or Scientological violence. This is almost certain because they are weakening their own institutional resistance to doing so.

They may not cave in on abortion -- it's special to them, politically popular, and thus they have a lot of resistance on yielding there -- but they may cave in on something else, something with less entrenched support. Something such as, say, the acknowledgement of evolution as science in the public school system. Or the treatment of homosexuals. Or whatever.

Western liberalism loses when something like the right to blaspheme or apostatize is not unconditionally defended, when it is put into doubt and allowed to be made a political issue. We are seriously risking losing the liberties hard-won in the 18th and 19th centuries, and I do not doubt that, if Islam succeeds in getting concessions on these issues, some variant of Christianity will do likewise -- and gain status, influence and power through its victory.
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