Weigel: Islamic extremism is a Christian-style moral sin

George Weigel writes in the Los Angeles Times:

[T]oo few Islamic leaders, the pope seemed to suggest, have been willing to undertake a cleansing of Islam’s conscience—as Pope John Paul II taught the Catholic Church to cleanse its historical conscience.

We know that, in the past, Christians used violence to advance Christian purposes. The Catholic Church has publicly repented of such distortions of the Gospel and has developed a deep theological critique of the misunderstandings that led to such episodes. Can the church, therefore, be of some help to those brave Islamic reformers who, at the risk of their own lives, are trying to develop a parallel Islamic critique of the distorted and lethal ideas of some of their co-religionists?

Another non-Islam theory of Islamic extremism!* Islamic extremism is a moral sin, to be understood the same way that Christians understand their own sins. Just as, for Christians, sin means a falling away from God’s moral law, so Islamic extremism is a sinful falling away from God’s moral law. But, of course, what the neocon Weigel is unable to grasp is that the supposed “sin” of Islamic “extremism” is what is what Allah himself commands. What he doesn’t understand is that the supposedly “distorted and lethal ideas” of “some” Muslims are, according to Islam, the eternal words of Allah faithfully and exactly transmitted by his Prophet.

As I have shown over and over, Islam as it actually is is so utterly alien and repulsive to Western sensibilities that high-level Western intellectuals, unwilling to admit that anything human is alien to them, refuse to know even the most basic facts about Islam. Instead, these distinguished thinkers “assimilate” Islamic extremism into some familiar, non-threatening shape, by looking at it only through their familiar filters. In Weigel’s case, the filter is the Christian idea of sin.

* Recent additions to the ever-growing list of non-Islam explanations of Islamic extremism include humiliation (Thomas Sowell), sexual frustration (Pierre Rehov), and a sick Mideast culture thousands of years old (the charming Ralph Peters).

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Paul Cella writes:

These guys are amazing. Weigel in particular is in a real pickle: he is the most prominent dissenter from the Vatican’s pacific counsel on Iraq (and elsewhere), which adds some irony to his boast that the Catholic Church “has developed a deep theological critique of the misunderstandings that led to such episodes [of Catholic aggression].” This critique, as interpreted through Vatican II liberalism, essentially precludes the sort of aggressive posture that Weigel has laid out.

Weigel is the quintessential Catholic Hawk, but even he cannot bring himself to understand why his church was once “hawkish” toward Islam. That Roman Catholics for centuries formed the primary soldiery protecting the West from Islam—this great legacy of gallantry and moral clarity—is, because of Weigel’s ideology, essentially obscure to him. He cannot know his church’s greatness on this question, because he has made himself blind.

LA replies:
People have yet to realize how extreme liberalism (of which neoconservatism is a subset) really is. In its refusal to admit into its ken the existence of differences between human groups that matter politically, it is more anti-reality than Communism ever was.

Just so that I am not misunderstood, I am not equating liberalism with Communism. I am saying that with regard to the ideological blocking out of entire sectors of reality, namely the real differences that exist between different national, racial, and religious groups, liberalism/neoconservatism is more extreme than Communism.

Mr. Conservative Swede (though our Swedish friend has been going through so many intellectual changes I’m not sure if he likes that moniker any more) makes a fantastic analogy between Communism and neoconservatism:


You are absolutely right about liberalism/neoconservatism being more extreme and more anti-reality than Communism. But there is an important similarity that I would like to add.

With liberalism/neoconservatism, this extreme kind of egalitarianism is being applied on the macro level, having as the goal to make every /country/ of the world equal. But quite as the Communists promised to “build” a society where every man would be equally prosperous, and ended up with a society where every one turned out to be equally poor, so will the promise of liberals/neoconservatives to Westernize/democratize all countries of the world, end up just turning the Western countries into Third World countries.

This ideology is better understood if we label it macro-Communism. And the idea of “Invade their countries, while letting their people invade us,” makes perfect sense as a means to macro-Communist leveling of the world. Quite as Communism resulted in everyone being equally poor, macro-Communism will make all countries ending up as equally “Third World”.

PS. I’m glad to see you attacking the Nostra Aetate as much as you do. Don’t forget the Lumen Gentium §16 too (it’s part of the package and makes the statement about the salvation). And remember that the Church has acknowledged Muhammad as a messenger of the one Abrahamic God. You made some good points about Nostra Aetate in 2005 too, that I hadn’t read before.

Mark G. writes:

“high-level Western intellectuals, unwilling to admit that anything human is alien to them, refuse to know even the most basic facts about Islam. “

Have heard Rabbi Daniel Lapin on radio, substituting for a local host. Lapin seems to be a well educated and articulate religious pundit. However, conversing with Moslem callers, Lapin repeatedly professed a total ignorance about Islam. A bright and articulate religious pundit could not find any time for five years to look at the menace of our time?

PC and cowardliness run deep among self-appointed “conservative” punditry.

LA replies:

I am astonished. Rabbi Lapin is a smart man, and he hasn’t made any efforts to learn about Islam? He hasn’t read any of the myriad articles at FrontPage Magazine by Bostom, Trifkovic and others that have been so informative? He’s never read any reviews of Bat Ye’or’s work? He’s never browsed at Jihad Watch? He’s never read any of my many pieces on Islam that I have sent him (he’s been on my mailing list for years)? He’s never even picked up things, just by hearing the debate, for example, hearing a Muslim apologist say that Islam does not believe in coercion, then hearing the counter-argument that the earlier suras were abrogated by the later ones? For an intelligent conservative to live in today’s America and remain totally ignorant of Islam, he would almost have to make a deliberate effort to do so.

LA continues:

But a possible explanation occurs to me. I read a couple of years ago that Rabbi Lapin officiated at Grover Norquist’s marriage to a Muslim woman. Norquist of course is heavily involved in helping the Muslim activist organizations in the U.S. advance their power and their interests. When I first heard this, I wondered what is going on, since, while Lapin was in mainstream Republican circles, he had a definite paleo streak that made him different from the usual mainstream Republican types. But based on his friendship with Norquist, maybe Lapin travels in circles where critical discussion of Islam does not take place. So whenever the Muslim issue comes up, he simply claims total ignorance to avoid having to say anything.

That is not a nice thing to say about Lapin, whom I respect. But when a smart conservative Jewish intellectual “repeatedly claims total ignorance about Islam,” there is something strange going on, and speculative theories to explain this behavior are not out of place.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 21, 2006 12:03 PM | Send

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