the devil we know

Blaise has a good, cynical take on the Cairo speech and the problems Obama faces sugar-coating State Islam:

I fear Barack Obama lacks the fundamental awareness of how serious the threat of State Islam has become in the world. His only exposure to Islam was in Indonesia: he was never obliged to live under shari’a law. Seen from afar, Islam is a simple, cleanly, abstract religion almost entirely devoid of theology. Seen from within, it is not a whit different than Christianity at its worst, when Europe nearly destroyed itself in internecine religious wars. Islam, as I have said times without number, is more a political system than a religion.

We in the West see the world through the lenses of the Reformation and all that followed. Napoleon imposed secularism on Europe and where he conquered, we in the West reaped the benefits. Our own country, the United States, resolutely opposed the commingling of Church and State, for we had seen religious persecution under the British. We were founded on the principles of Freedom of Religion and therefore became the most religious nation on earth.

Islam makes no such allowances. Islam demands tolerance and special dispensations for itself in the UK and the USA. The French endured the worst of the predations of the Church: their Revolution was a direct repudiation of the Church’s power in the affairs of men and are far less willing to tolerate Islam’s shrill demands.

I am a Liberal Democrat and a Christian: thus I style myself. One of the reasons I rejected the Republican Party was its disgusting tendency to cuddle up to Moral Majorities and factions of intolerance. Yet more than Democrat, I am an American. To be an American is to maintain a healthy distrust of both Church and State.

The whole thing is worth reading.  I think Blaise is right to be skeptical.  Obama is no idiot, though, and I’d hesitate to view his actions in the short term, or to think that his warm language regarding Islam is anything more than diplomacy, part of a larger, longer political game.  Perhaps Obama does represent our last, best hope to smooth things over in the region and across the Islamic world.  I remain skeptical, but optimistic.

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5 thoughts on “the devil we know

  1. ED,

    Blaise is confusing Islamism (what he calls State Islam)–and a particularly hardcore variety thereof–with Islam. The former is only variety of the latter.

    As he has to admit, Indonesia (the world’s largest Muslim country) doesn’t have sharia. Turkey is secular. There are a huge proportion of Muslims living in India–the world’s largest democracy. Muslims in the States and Canada, ditto.

    When he refers to UK he’s referring to one branch (an Islamist branch). And in a place like the UK when a Muslim says he/she wants sharia they may just mean something like Muslim family law courts (like Orthodox Jewish groups have). They don’t necessarily mean they want the entire country to be forced into some Islamic supremacy model. [The hardcore groups do, but they are not the only ones in existence].

    There’s no such thing as monolithic Islam. There are Islams. President Obama’s speech while a nicer face still talks as if there is this one united Muslim world. There just isn’t. There’s simply too much geographic, linguistic, cultural, theological and political, differences to talk about “Islam wants X”.

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  2. No, he does (and especially in the comments) refer to the difference between Islam-the-religion and State Islam (or Islamism) but I think his concern is that policy will not be made with such a distinction in mind…and that all our efforts will be in vain.

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  3. This was the first speech of Obama’s that really made me see that he’s basically just a hollow rhetorician, and that he’ll rarely if ever back any of this up with actions (his actions have thus far tended to be very centrist/establishmentarian). I basically predicted the speech, almost paragraph for paragraph, before he delivered it; he has a standard schtick that’s getting quite old. I guess many Republicans saw this months ago, or even back in 2007. And I’m very, very cynical about this speech; tell me how this is going to actually DO anything to convince, or even vaguely BEGIN to convince, a 19-year-old male Iraqi who has a very long list of reasons to hate the West.

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