Monday, February 20, 2006

Respond from strength

I've read comment after comment by westerners lately about how Islamist Fundamentalists must be nuts. How else to explain the outrage, the violence, the fury in the streets, ostensibly in response to some bad cartoons?

Hey, maybe some individuals are nuts - statistically it's a sure thing, and the odds are about the same on both sides. But so what? The important thing to remember is that most rioters are perfectly sane. Enraged? Yes, mortally. But not nuts. And remembering that is the key to the western response to Islamist Fundamentalists. Our response has to make sense, first and foremost, to the society in which it is rooted. It must be based on and reflect the principles of our culture and our practices, principles which include freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association. Australia's John Howard is leading by example.

After it makes sense to our own society, our response must be strong enough to give strength to the Muslims who are caught in the middle of their own religious and societal turmoil. They must see that we respect their religion without negating our own beliefs. They must also be able to see where the boundary is, the limit that WE stand for.

I fear that in this age where tolerance is a higher virtue than critical thinking and sharp debate, we have lost all hope of identifying our own boundaries. We can not say what we stand for, because many in our society stand for nothing more than 'please play nice'. Granting someone his way when we are strong enough to demand our own way is an act of grace. Granting someone his way when we are too weak or confused to resist is nothing more than an admission of defeat. In the culture war between radical Islam and the west, we are headed for second place. We won't like it.

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