The Corner

Antidote for the Language Purge

I suggest we send the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security strategists, and all their like-minded colleagues in the intelligence community and elsewhere to their rooms until they memorize this 2006 piece by Bruce Thornton (or, actually, just about any piece by Bruce Thornton).  Every word should be memorized, but this is particularly relevant to the thinking behind the language purge:

[S]ome Westerners, enthralled to their own materialist assumptions and multicultural “we are the world” sentimentalism, wave away this evidence and reduce this destructive behavior to any and every cause except the one that counts: spiritual belief. So we hear that the violence is caused by a lack of jobs, or a lack of liberal-democratic institutions, or “frustration” and insecurity about the dismal backwardness of most Muslim states, or wounded pride in the face of Western success, or resentment of Western imperialist and colonialist sins, or oppressive autocrats, or . . . take your pick. The same therapeutic mentality that thinks destructive behavior in teens results from a “lack of self-esteem” reduces the religious values of Muslims to mere “epiphenomena,” as the Marxists see it, symptoms of some underlying condition rooted in material deprivation, political impotence, or psychological trauma.

The problem with Islam, however, is not a lack of self-esteem but too damned much. This is a faith fanatically certain of its truth and righteousness, the culminating vision of God’s relations with humanity, the ultimate meaning of human existence on every level, including the social and political. As such, its destiny is to spread over the whole world until the benefits, both in this life and the next, of submission to God are bestowed on all humans, and the dysfunctional man-made values–– including democracy, materialism, “equal rights,” and freedom–– are swept away. For however alluring, these do not deliver true happiness or true freedom, but mere hedonism and license that create misery and degradation in this world, and put the soul at risk in the next.

If, then, you are in possession of this truth that you are absolutely certain holds the key to universal happiness in this world and the next, why would you be tolerant of alternatives? Why should you tolerate a dangerous lie? Why should you “live and let live,” the credo of the spiritually moribund who stand for everything because they stand for nothing? And why wouldn’t you kill in the name of this vision, when the infidel nations work against God’s will and his beneficent intentions for the human race?

This is precisely what the jihadists tell us, what fourteen centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence tell us, what the Koran and Hadith tell us. Yet we smug Westerners, so certain of our own superior knowledge that human life is really about genes or neuroses or politics or nutrition, condescendingly look down on the true believer. Patronizing him like a child, we tell him that he doesn’t know that his own faith has been “hijacked” by “fundamentalists” who manipulate his ignorance, that what he thinks he knows about his faith is a delusion, and that the true explanation is one that we advanced, sophisticated Westerners understand while the believer remains mired in superstition and neurotic fantasy.

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