Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Word of Explanation

Yes, it is true. After my hate-filled polemic of I’ve got a million of ‘em!” I do owe an explanation. Of course the street thugs who murdered this young Jewish man were Moslems. But they were nominal Moslems. Their viciousness and inhumanity have no part of Islamic ethics ... Moslem culture, yes, as it is experienced by the common and largely uneducated people. But such bestiality has no part in Islam at its best.

In America, we have street thugs. They would be, for the most part, if anything, nominally Christian. To say that they actually are Christian is a self-refuting proposition however – not because no Christian can break the law, but because there really is a standard of conduct, a “bearing of fruit,” by which we may judge the reality of one’s Christianity. Christianity is a state of the heart, which must manifest itself in one’s conduct to be counted as real. We do not judge hearts, but we know hearts, by actions. I won’t rehearse this obvious truth here – I’ve discussed it in these pages, say, in Lies Lies Lies Lies Lies.

Do I, then, hold Islam to a different standard? Am I a hypocrite, for attacking Islam where I excuse Christianity? I think not. Consider, who did these thugs kidnap? Four previous times, they had tried to kidnap some other victims. All of the targets had one salient commonality: they were Jewish. Is this because “all Jews are rich”? They had the self-evident fact that their young victim was a lowly cell-phone salesman. Not, then, rich. They targeted him for his Jewishness, not for his economic status. They taunted his father on the phone with anti-Jewish vitriol. They called up a rabbi and crowed that they had “a Jew.”

So, anti-Semitic, then. But American Christians have been anti-Semitic. Even if we exclude the KKK as an aberrant cult – which it is – there are examples of insane murderers who killed a Jew for being a Jew. The difference is this: virulent anti-Semitism has never been normative, in America. Prejudice has been common, and institutional. But might we discern some orders of magnitude of difference, between excluding a Hebrew from the Country Club, and torturing him to death over a period of weeks? And that insane American who would do such a thing is universally acknowledged to be insane. In Paris, for three weeks, Moslems came and went, to and from, the torture room – and no one, at all, of the scores who knew, attempted a rescue. For three weeks. Twenty-four days, actually.

Americans have walked by crime victims. Americans have ignored cries for help. The movie River’s Edge comes to mind, where many youths knew of a murder, but no one reported it. So the fact that people, “Moslem” or “Christian,” can be cowardly, apathetic scum, is granted. Arabs in their basic humanity are no better and no worse than Americans in their basic humanity.

Here’s the difference. Christianity as it is practiced today – as a public institution – has no part in anti-Semitism or in group violence. Islam, on the other hand...

The torture and murder of Ilan Halimi is only an extreme outworking of the beliefs of a very large part of normative Islam. Not, I think, a majority. But until that majority of Moslems does more than, perhaps, shake its head or cluck its tongue – until Islam cleanses its house of the monsters who possess it – until then, Dar al-Islam will continue to bear the shame of its monsters, and it may offer no honest objection to such polemics, fair or unfair, from Dar al-Harb.


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