Mumbai

       The attackers apparently came from outside India. Interestingly, while Muslims are a minority in India, this is the second biggest Muslim population on Earth. So why are there so few home-grown Indian Muslim jihadi terrorists? India has its problems, including extreme poverty, and even some religious violence. But India is more like America than like the Arab nations. India is a secular, democratic, free-market country, where people can feel empowered to achieve their dreams. India has a Muslim woman on its Supreme Court. In Saudi Arabia, women can’t even drive.

     This tells us something about the nature of Islamic terrorism.

     Its practitioners will eventually realize that hatred toward the West does nothing to cure the ills of their own societies, and that bombings will not satisfy anything but bloodlust. While such a movement may seemingly burn brightly for a time, in the end it will burn itself out. It cannot prevail over a rational paradigm that offers freedom and hope instead. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceable, are not against modernity and democracy, and don’t want to go back to the Middle Ages. This too shall pass.

        After all, Islam coexisted with the West for a very long time, and is far more similar to Western faiths than it is different. The Koran is filled with bloodthirsty passages, but they are basically ignored by most Muslims, just as most Christians ignore the many outlandish directives in their own Bible. So we are not at war with Islam, and must avoid letting this be a religious conflict. We are at war solely with those who choose to be at war with us. 

       If our enemies strive to terrorize us, we must refuse to be terror-stricken. Our civilization is not going to be blown down like the wolf blew down the pig’s straw house, because we have built it upon the most fundamental and enduring human values. We can be morally strong knowing that we are defending a society worthy of defense. We must continue sticking to our core values—not only for our ourselves, but for the Muslim world as well. 

       Some deem it misguided to want Muslim societies to be more like ours. But ours do not produce legions of people who find no better use for their lives than to destroy them for the sake of destroying others. If this is to stop, Muslims must see opportunities to hope and dream and achieve. This does mean Muslim societies more like ours and less like they are now. This is not “imposing” anything on them. It is not “arrogant” to think that what Muslim nations need is more freedom and opportunity for their citizens and more toleration toward religious and other cultural differences among people. 

     We won the Cold War chiefly because our values rather than communism won the war of ideas. This one, too, is a war of ideas. The front line is inside the Islamic community. Our task is to encourage and support the decent, progressive, humanist individuals in that world to overcome the negative forces ranged against them. The future lies not with the anti-modern, antidemocratic, and antihuman vision of Islamists, but rather with the true human values that we share, of rationalism, freedom, and democracy, and the right of all people to seek their own bliss. 

 

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3 Responses to “Mumbai”

  1. Bill Says:

    I think your points work well when examined from a Western perspective. I served as a soldier for a year in Afghanistan May 2004 to May 2005, and I have followed the conflict closely since then as well. I can report to you that they don’t see our culture as offering freedom and democracy exclusively, they also see sexual perversion, gang violence, and an imperialist central government. Remember the Middle East and Central Asia have been fighting against colonizing forces since Alexander the Great. In Afghanistan they generally feel that our way of life does not offer spiritual fullfillment, and that Americans are superficial. As you know they also have a problem with Israel, and they see America as completely linked with Israel.

    Also there is a serge of patriotism in China, which is bizarrely foreign to me. I was talking to a prof at Columbia who I was working for, and he reported his Chinese graduate students have a complete disregard for Democracy and see their system as superior and more rational.

  2. Gregory Kipp Says:

    There is no place for violent extremism in any religion. Unfortunately, religion in general seems high susceptable to this phenomenon. Islam is not the only place it occurs. Christianity has had the Spanish Inquisition, abortion clinic bombings, cultish abuse of children, and numerous other examples of extremist thinking. Other examples can be found in the Jewish, Hindu and other major religions around the world.

    It’s my personal belief the appropriate role of religion is for inward introspection about one’s own moral character and relationships with others. Bombing others into accepting a particular religion is a perversion of this sound moral foundation. As the Bible says, let those without guilt cast the first stone. But none of the extremist are in a position to be casting stones. Perhaps someday they will realize this.

  3. J. Steve Says:

    Glad to see that there is at least one rational judge/lawyer left in this country!

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