Thursday, August 04, 2005

How Scared Should We Really Be?

A battle is afoot in blogland to win hearts and minds to the various different assessments of the implications of the London bombs.

In the mainstream media, however, the two different cases are rarely presented, and there is often a general concensus that, despite the protestations of Tony Blair to the contrary, we brought the London bombs upon ourselves with our interventions in the Middle East.

The Spectator is almost unique in presenting both cases. On page ten, it carries an article by Peter Oborne in which he makes the case that we have nothing to worry about from the Islamic world as long as we butt out of Muslim countries. He even quotes Bin Laden to this effect. "Free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain why we don't strike, for example, Sweden"..."every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own safety". It all sounds so safe and reasonable. Meanwhile on the very next page, (one of the reasons why I so love the Speccie is that it routinely puts both cases), Patrick Sookhdeo makes the case that the problem is essentially a matter of Islamic jihadism, that it will not make much difference to butt out of Islamic countries because a commonplace interpretation of the Koran requires Muslims either to convert everyone to it, or to defeat them and rule.

What are we to make of all this? Should the Western world simply get out of the Middle and Far East and leave them all to it, or are we really back to a situation where Islam genuinely threatens our way of life in our own country; in which case, should I, for example, be getting used to the idea that I must cover up and may be stoned to death for some of the things I get up to now?

As with the mainstream media, there is little conflict over the matter in posts on the UK home education where HEers seem fairly uniformly inclined to believe that the UK government has brought it upon ourselves with the interventions on Iraq. There has been no evidence at all of the alternative viewpoint. This is perhaps because there is a very strong anti-government bias amongst home educators which often stems from a general hatred of intervention in the education of our children. Thus many home educators would often prefer to blame the UK and the US governments than to address the knotty issue of Koranic interpretation and Islamic theology. Plus such a criticism would also be seen as way too un-PC and potentially inflammatory. There are a good number of Islamic HEers in the UK (Home Education being expressly permitted in the Koran) and any criticism of Islamic theology could be seen as potentially divisive and the critics would risk being labelled racist.

But read Gates of Vienna and you end up thinking that Osama was merely setting out to win the propoganda war in his statement above, and was a long way from saying what he really intended. In this scenario, it seems the real reason why he doesn't need to bomb Sweden is because the Swedes are as good as won over to the Islamic cause.

Whatever the case, there is no harm in calling for a more generally pacifist and freedom-loving interpretation of the Koran. Sookhdeo explains that whilst there are both pacifist and bellicose verses in the Koran, that later writings in the Koran are generally meant to supercede earlier ones. Unfortunately the later verses are the most bellicose.

Sensible theological and ethical debate seems to be in order, if you ask me. But this will not happen if people continue to refuse to acknowledge the problem in the first place, buried as they are in their relativistic, multiculturally tolerant and post-modernist confusions.

1 comment:

Parton Words said...

Really fascinating to read your perspective on this. I think views in Australia are similar. We've actually been talking on the radio about whether or not the terrorists have already won. I don't believe they have in the slightest, but my co-host concedes that they may have. We ran a poll on our radio website on that question....have the terrorists won ? And the result...18% yes, 82% no.