Wednesday, September 17, 2003

What About Radical Islam?

The presence of thousands of religious zealots who work for the demise of the Israel, the USA and the West is a cause for more than hand-wringing concern. On the extreme left, residual historical guilt prompts the delusion that negotiation will bring peace, if we are patient, kind and financially generous. On the right, calls for more military action or sealing the borders find a home in hearts angry that such "barbarians" would be tolerated even for a moment.

There is no simple solution to the current crisis; however, there is way forward, if the West has the courage and stamina.

Radical Islam finds a home in angry, disenfranchised and moralistic souls who want to overthrow the corrupt West and establish Islamic Law in every nation. The first thing the West must do is put her own moral and social house in order by reaffirming transcendent ethics, the importance of religious freedom and piety and calling her citizens to personal responsibility. If the citizens of Europe, Israel and the USA are in some fashion, "doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly" there is less fuel to feed the fire among the populations who feel alienated. Honest legal processes, economic opportunity and respect for God are powerful counterweights to Radical Islam.

In addition to 3000 years of legal and moral insights, the West also has two other powerful weapons in her arsenal: democracy and economic opportunity. With the exception of the modern, secular state of Turkey, there has never been as Islamic democracy in its 1500 year history. Whether by accident, exhaustion or divine illumination (or all of the above), all branches of Christianity have repented of their historic wrongs and no longer promote intolerance or violence as a means of propagating their message. The demise of Communism opens the door for a new expression of ethical capitalism. If people are called to responsible behavior AND given economic opportunities, there is less kindling for Radical Islam's pyrotechnic terrorists.

The third facet of this plan is intelligent, strategic military action free from ideological or religious jargon and focused on bringing the perpetrators of terror to justice. All nations who love democracy must unite in this strategy. Israel-bashing is fruitless - the survivors of The Holocaust are not going to keep negotiating with groups dedicated to their destruction. The West faces a new Nazi-like threat and, like the 1930s, she must decide to either appease it with wishful thinking or oppose it with moral and military strength.

As we debate freely (and isn't is wonderful to be able to do so?) the policies of governments, we must take personal responsibility for our attitudes and actions and realize that hundreds of millions of ordinary people can turn the tide if they will find the courage to do so.

The future of freedom depends upon us.

Next week: The future of "the family"

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