Press Release for Immediate Release – 5/7/02
The National Non-Sectarian Council of Pro-Family Activists
Rabbi David Eidensohn - Director - Contact - 1-845-352-7267
(Used by Rabbi Eidensohn's permission on CR's Range)
A Commentary by
Rabbi David Eidensohn
Why do people become terrorists? In the May 7, 2002 New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof tells about the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Conference on Terrorism. The experts decided that it was wrong to blame terrorism on poverty and illiteracy, because the terrorists tend not to be poor and illiterate. What then cause people, educated and with money, to give their lives to blow up buildings filled with utterly innocent people? Mr. Kristof suggests that we really don't know, but three factors are important: humiliation, economic isolation and foreign policy, mainly the placing of American bases in the "sacred soil" of Saudi Arabia.
This is an example of why intellectuals have a bad name. Is there any person with even a partial brain who does not know that terrorists are blowing up school buses and bombing families because of religious teachings? Not a mention is made in the article of the promise to suicide bombers of seventy virgins. If you really believe you can go from the mess your marriage or social life is in to having seventy virgins just by fulfilling the religious duties of killing infidels, why not? If we do not factor in the religious problem, we cannot discuss terrorism. Do the Harvard people think that Arafat, awash in the full backing and glory of the European Union, the United Nations, the entire Arab world, China and Russia, would stop sending killers to Israel if we traded with him more, if we stopped his "humiliation"? Do they think that Osama bin Laden would befriend America if we honored him, or if we traded with him?
Osama bin Laden will not be satisfied until we are gone. It is that simple. His religion requires that we be gone and that his religion dominate the earth. As long as the major religious leaders of Islam refuse to combat this idea, and even encourage it, there will be terrorism. We trade with Saudi Arabia plenty by buying oil from it. Did that stop the majority of the Trade Center Terrorists who came from Saudi Arabia? Trade has nothing to do with it. The "humiliation" of the Moslems is not because they personally lack self-esteem. They are very proud of themselves and their religion. The "humiliation" they face is the inability of their superior religion to dominate the world. As Thomas Friedman has pointed out, the Arabs are bitter that infidels can succeed financially and scientifically, while they wallow behind. Instead of imitating the West and creating the freedom necessary to power financial and social success, the Arab world chooses its feudal social style, a fanatical religion to go with incredible overpopulation and poverty. That feudal religion comes first. If it can dominate the world by blowing it up and no other way, then Islam demands that terrorists blow up the world.
At this point, we must understand something. If Islam became a terrorist religion, why did Christianity not follow suit? Both religions are kingdom builders, and have fought bitter wars to dominate the world. Why did Islam remain mired in the Middle Ages, while Christianity did not?
The answer is not very flattering to the West. Several centuries ago, the Catholics and Protestants battled a Thirty Years War over religious differences. Entire cities were destroyed. People had enough. As Jacques Barzun explains in his classic history "from Dawn to Decadence," this war produced secularism. Originally secularism was not the atheism and scientism of later times. Secularism was nationalism without religion. It realized that governments could not exist to spread the faith. If they did, the world would end. Secularism put the church safely on the sidelines, producing morality and spreading the word without armies of soldiers and cannons. This idea allowed religion to prosper without the side affects of governments battling over religion. The West turned its national energy into science and industry, the arts and social justice. Religions did not go quietly, and struggled a bit, but did not succeed. Nonetheless, the secular energies of society are rooted in the realization that religion can be lethal if not contained. This is the spirit and success of the West. I do not say that religions acquiesced willingly in all of this. Indeed, the nature of an absolute belief is to dominate with all means. The West caged religion and thus prospered.
Ultimately, the fear of religion forced religions to moderate to conform to secularism. Secularism eventually broke with religion completely, and religion and secular intellectuals warred, without armies. In some secular countries, such as France and Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, laws were made to constrain the church. A Catholic French Premier, in a Catholic country, closed down all church institutions in 1901, and later reopened them. Jesuit orders were banished. Religions had to choose between fighting a futile battle, and accepting secularism. In one of his works on evolution, Professor Steven Gould of Harvard invokes the Jesuits who agree with his beliefs about evolution. The Catholic Church has reversed itself and accepted evolution. So successful was the secular revolution in the West that it controlled the colleges and media, as well as government. In order to build kingdoms, Western religions had to tailor themselves to please secular ideals. This is the reality of Western religion today. Even with the tailoring, religion is unstable, because even as the church attempts to modify its image, secularism is racing farther and farther to radicalism and away from biblical values. When the church decides to quit the race and go back to where it came, it risks opprobrium from the culture and loss of membership and influence. A recent article by Keller in the New York Times tells how he, a Catholic, notices that the Vatican is pushing the absolute power of conservative values and Rome even as it presents a smile and pleasant demeanor to the world. Ultimately, the world sees through the effort. The church can continue to liberalize until its core values are gone, or it can invoke the past and miss the cultural boat.
The modern history of Rome is a story of these efforts. Rome constantly declares that it will open up its files on the wartime Pope, and then retreats in fury at those who take them at face value. Catholics are writing more and more books attacking the church, not because it is conservative, but because it wants to present a liberal face while maintaining a defense of increasingly conservative values. In modern times, all churches must face that gauntlet. Either they retreat to core values and lose membership and influence, or they become secularized or liberal; some do what Rome does, and try to have it both ways, which simply infuriates people even more.
Islam never had secularism. Islam never had to twist and dance. Islam always was consistent and clear in its message. Islam is right and others are wrong. Islam must dominate and others must leave or be destroyed. Although some people say in English what they don't say in Arabic, Islam never had secularism although it did have some battles between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Moslems did not get to the point where people so despaired of religious war that they decided to ban religion from government. Islam is at the point where the West once was, where values of religion were central to government. We must study this kind of government, so foreign to Western values.
A commentator in the Times noted that Moslems despise the very values that we prize, freedom, democracy, and individuality. Are we superior for this? Rationally, the values of a society must be Truth. If religion is Truth, then government and society must obey it. You can't have it two ways. The West, upon the declaration of secularism, struggled with the duality of Truths. Religious believers had two heads, one for church and the other for science. Islam never struggled, because it had only one Truth. The West split life into variegated splinters. Art was separate, religion was separate, science was separate—emotion was separate from reason and spirituality was declared mystery. Indeed, when Western Man hungered for more than simple secularism, and yet feared the fire of religion, he created a dualism of rationality and mystery. Einstein declared that all art and science is rooted in mystery, and that mystery could not be known. This is squishy. Islam, like Orthodox Judaism, does not like squishy things. We don't believe in mystery, as we believe that G-d revealed one absolute law at Sinai and it will never be changed. Islam does not have Sinai, but it believes firmly in its prophet and his claims to revelation. There is stability in this, be it right or wrong. Western religion, hobbled by the insatiable demands of secularism, is busy surviving; it cannot impose absolute values and promote terrorism, even if it wanted to. Orthodox Judaism is too small and in addition, "exile" oriented to make problems. Islam, however, is a religion unchanged and unfettered by secularism, speaking today the language of its founder, without any "reformations" or revolutions. The modern Moslem, flying a jet plane and studying nuclear fission, has the same passion as his ancestor who followed Saladin to Jerusalem to battle Richard the Lion Hearted in the twelfth century.
Let us take a peek at Richard the Lion Hearted. He came to the throne by battling his father. He joined Philip in the Crusades, and they succeeded somewhat, but had a falling out. Richard left Israel, was kidnapped in Europe, and ransomed by a huge amount. He then returned to England to stop the ambitions of John who wanted to seize the throne. This constant splintering and fighting is a curse but a blessing. The Western world, divided hopelessly, mired in constant power struggles, declared that diversity and even democracy would rule. This powered the financial and technological achievements that put the West on top of the world. Islam, while blessed with leaders who had an easier time with their power, although they, too, struggled plenty, never saw their social structure blown to smithereens by quarrels. They remained simple and thus strong in their beliefs. They refused to allow secularism a place. If the West did, it did so only to save itself from extinction. If the door to the house does not bar women in the West from leaving, we can thank bloody wars and constant struggles for this, rather than the innate rationality of the Western man. Secularism was let into the Western home to save it, and it ended up taking over. Islam never had these problems and thus never had a secular solution. It retains the religious simplicity and values that control every aspect of life, rather than the splintered Western system that keeps people in turmoil. If artists in the nineteenth century were abolitionists and poets wrote nonsense called dada, it is because the West rejected the sweetness of simplicity and unity in favor of constant struggle and no solutions. Solutions threaten the West, and are refused. The West therefore lives on the peripheral zone of society, ignoring the issue of Truth with a capital T that is only solved by religion. The West prides itself on anti-values, which ultimately must defeat somewhat of the power of unity in society. A civilization whose artists paint mustaches on the Mona Lisa is a civilization that worships not values, but their destruction.
Osama bin Laden is but the beginning of the new Crusade. Its source is not secular, and thus it is invisible to the people in Harvard. Osama bin Laden is simply continuing the work of the Prophet, who declared a sacred duty to defeat anyone who disagreed with him. Islam, furthermore, declared military victory and conquest of territory a major religious value, such as prayer. There is no room on the planet for Islam and anyone else. Terrorism is what it offers when it has not yet developed nuclear weapons. When it has them, it will use them.
Harvard people have the ability to be so brilliant that they see a cat and call it a dog. Normal people can't do that. Normal people see Arafat, supported by the Moslem clerics and heads of government, calling on children to blow themselves up near other children. Normal people say, "Hey, this is serious stupidity. This is religious fanaticism. This is murder." Harvard people see this and declare, "This is a puzzle. Let us expand our trade and deal with their humiliation." As long as the Harvard people are in power, the Moslems have a free ride. If the Moslems don't have change to ride to the airplane before they hijack it, the Harvard people, the European Union, China, Russia and the United Nations will give it to them.
How do we fight Osama bin Laden and his millions of co-religionists and believers? We first have to know his strength: a simple value-system all-encompassing that knows no limits. Conquer the infidel, anyway you can.
Secondly, the West must examine its own values. It must realize the limits of secularism. Religion must win respect by not playing games with Truth. The recent revelations of the Catholic's church's performance with molested children, and the article by Carl Thomas showing that a major Protestant clergyman owns a half million dollar race-horse and watches it run at the race-track (no gambling), are ultimately the empowerment of secularism and the defeat of true Values and Western strength.