Those who wish to follow the pope’s call and engage Islam in reasoned debate surely have their work cut out for them. A few nights ago on the Newshour, George Weigel and Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, discussed Pope Benedict’s remarks with Gwen Ifill. Awad seemed to be saying that Islam has nothing to do with violence whatsoever, that jihad is not an Islamic term, that holy war is in no way an aspect of Islam or the Koran or Muhammed’s teaching. Even Ifill seemed a little stunned, but said nothing to contradict him. Weigel brought up the Islamic conquests of all the early Christian lands but Awad dismissed that, and Weigel grew glum, possibly wondering how on earth to deal with someone who can so blandly speak such falsehoods.
When rationality debates politely with irrationality, the former will lose. The irrational will just use the forums provided to spreak falsehoods and propaganda, and the rational will just sit there having to pretend it’s a real debate. This is more fallout of the cultural relativism that has widely purveyed the idea that there is no truth and that one view is as valid as any other. The only answer is to get more aggressive and expose such statements as lies, errors, falsehoods, historic misreadings, whatever.