Is the pope ready to cause a civilizational war?

Muslim leaders around the world—though the the New York Times article mentions only a few—are demanding that Pope Benedict XVI apologize for his comments about Islam. If he doesn’t, what would happen? Mounting protests throughout the world? A breakdown of relations? Open hostility? Terrorist attacks? Is Benedict prepared to be the cause of that? Is he prepared to refuse under such pressure to dissociate himself from a statement that is not even his own, but someone else’s?

[Emperor Manuel II Paleologos] said, I quote, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” [Emphasis added.]

Let’s make no bones about it. Both the original quote from the 14th century emperor, and the pope’s non-critical quotation of it, are grave insults to Islam, and in today’s world it’s hard to imagine a leader standing by such an insult. But if the pope breaks all expectations and does stand by it, if he does, then the forbidden truth about Islam will have become speakable, and the whole West-Islam relationship will have shifted in the direction of a re-awakened West prepared to draw lines and defend itself.

Pray that the pope doesn’t turn out to be another Lawrence Summers. Pray that the Vatican keeps issuing meaningless non-apology apologies.

* * *

Someone sent me an item from Yahoo, adding that the pope had “crumbled”:

The new Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the pope’s position on Islam is unmistakably in line with Vatican teaching that the church “esteems Muslims, who adore the only God.”

Thus, the pope is “extremely upset that some portions of his speech were able to sound offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers and have been interpreted in a way that does not at all correspond to his intentions,” Bertone said in a statement.

While the business of saying that Muslims “adore the only God” is sickening, and while the statement gets closer to a real apology than the previous Vatican statements, the bottom line is that it is still a non-apology apology. The pope is not retracting what he said.

And based on this story from the Daily Express in Britain, the Muslims are, for all practical purposes, buying the non-apology apology:

Muslims in UK welcome Pope apology

Muslims in Britain welcomed an apology by the Pope for the offence he caused with remarks about the Prophet Muhammad .

But some said he should have gone further in distancing himself from the “derogatory” comments made by a 15th century Byzantine emperor that he quoted in a speech in Germany.

The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI “sincerely regrets” Muslims had been offended by his quoting Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II’s remarks that Muhammad had brought “things only evil and inhuman.” [LA adds: Once again, to say that you’re sorry that someone else was offended by what you said is not the same as saying that you’re sorry for what you said.]

New Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the pope’s position on Islam was in line with Vatican teaching which says the Church “regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God.”

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the apology was a “welcome step” but the Pope needed to repudiate the views he quoted to restore relations between Muslims and the Catholic Church. [Ok, Bari recognizes that it’s less than a full apology, nevertheless, calling the non-apology apology a “welcome step” as good as ends the stand-off.]

Dr Bari said: “It’s certainly a welcome step that the Pope recognises the hurt that his speech caused. He quoted the words of the emperor who made very derogatory remarks about the Prophet, and his inclusion has caused enormous hurt.”

Muhammad Umar, chairman of Britain’s Ramadhan Foundation, a Rochdale-based youth organisation, has accused the Pope of falling into “the trap of bigots and racists.” Following the latest statement he said: “We welcome his apology and we hope now we can work together and build bridges. At the same time we would condemn all forms of violent demonstration.

“Burning images of the Pope is not going to help us or any community relationship. These individuals are the small radical element. They don’t represent the vast majority of Muslims.”

Ihtisham Hibatullah, of the British Muslim Initiative also welcomed the Pope’s apology. “Even though the remarks weren’t intentionally directed at offending Muslims, the Muslim community worldwide was deeply offended,” he said.

There has been strong condemnation across the world of the remarks made by the Pope, with leaders in Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East joining a chorus of disapproval which has led to violence in some places.

N. writes:

You write: “Muslim leaders around the world … are demanding that Pope Benedict XVI apologize for his comments about Islam. If he doesn’t, what would happen? Mounting protests throughout the world? A breakdown of relations? Open hostility? Terrorist attacks?”

Look at the cartoon jihad as a possible example. Mounting protests, attempts to break relations. Followed, in time, by nothing. There are no marches in Londonistan or anywhere else over the Danish cartoons, now. The fit of pique is all done. That is because, the “Arab Street” is quick to anger, but has no staying power. All that the Vatican needs to do is out-wait them, giving non-apology apologies, and in time 90 percent of the “street” will go back to their coffee house, TV, bubble-pipe, what-have-you. I cannot predict the number of weeks it will take, but it’s in the nature of the quick-to-anger crowd in any culture that they cannot sustain a high level of anger and activity for an indefinite period. That’s one of the weaknesses of such a culture. Unhappily, a tiny minority are very good at long term planning for revenge … which brings me to terrorist attacks.

Terrorist attacks are already in the planning stage no matter what the Pope or anyone else says. That’s one of the things liberals just cannot seem to fathom: no matter what we do or say, there are terrorist attacks being planned. Short of absolute surrender, imposing Sharia law, there’s nothing we can do to stop the minority of Moslems willing to engage in active jihad from planning attacks, in the short term, anyway. In the long term, note that a confident, purposeful civilization (like, oh, Europe in the 19th century) is rather immune to jihadi attacks. It’s almost as if the jihadi looks at a strong culture and decides it’s not worth attacking it, but sees a weak culture and is drawn to raid … gee, where would such an idea come from?

So if they are going to try to kill us anyway, why shouldn’t we speak the truth, laughingly as Horace says, when it pleases us to do so? Perhaps that is the real position of Benedict?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 16, 2006 08:49 AM | Send

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