I am just back from St Petersburg, Florida, where I participated in the Secular Islam Summit organized by the Center for Inquiry and the irrespressible Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi. You can find detailed coverage at Gateway Pundit and Brett Stephens has a thoughtful and important column on it in today’s Wall Street Journal.
After this conference, I think it is no longer possible for people to say there are no reformist (or “moderate”) Muslims. Some of the participants are ex-Muslims, others insist they are still believers, but all condemn the radical islamism that drives the jihad. All are very courageous, since they are regularly denounced, and threatened, by the noisy and violent islamists who hate infidels even more than those of us from outside the faith (“crusaders”) who challenge them. The great scholar Ibn Warraq put it very well indeed: “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the recognition that there are values that are stronger than fear.”
I hope the conference gets some serious coverage. Of the weeklies, only U.S. News and World Report sent a reporter, and I didn’t see anyone from the dailies. Full marks to Brett Stephens, an impossibly impressive man who seems altogether too young for his amazing resume, for pointing out the big dog that did not bark: the U.S. Government. Al Jazeera covered it, but our toothless appeasers from the “official” radios and television didn’t show. Yet another reason to pay attention to Senator Tom Coburn, who is carrying on a solo battle against the rot that has taken over the likes of VOA and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Now that W seems to have discovered the virtue of firing failed officials (he acted with exemplary decisiveness when the Walter Reed scandal broke), he should wash out the stables that house America’s voice, and replace the whole crew with people who share our values and welcome the opportunity to tell the world about them.