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Wars, it is said, are the death of republics. And we now seem to be caught up in an endless war…

Saturday, three Islamic terrorists committed “suicide-by-cop,” using a van to run down pedestrians on London Bridge, and then slashing and stabbing patrons of pubs and diners in the nearby Borough Market. By all accounts, the killers bore no special grudge against those they murdered. They appear not even to have known their victims. Why, then, did they kill these strangers and themselves? A BBC eyewitness suggests a motive: “They shouted, ‘This is for Allah,’ as they stabbed indiscriminately.”

The murderers were Muslims. The rationale for their crimes lies in the belief that their bloody deeds would inscribe them in a book of martyrs and that Allah would reward them with instant ascension into the paradise that awaits all good Muslims.

Ideas have consequences. And where might these crazed killers have gotten an idea like that? Is there a strain of Islam, the basis of which can be found in the Quran, that would justify what the murderers did at London Bridge?

On Palm Sunday, an explosion in Tanta, fifty-six miles north of Cairo, killed twenty-nine and injured seventy-one Copts as they prayed at the Mar Girgis church. A second blast at a church in Alexandria killed eighteen and wounded thirty-five. On May twenty-sixth, masked gunmen stopped two buses carrying Coptic Christians to Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Egypt and opened fire, killing twenty-six and wounding twenty-five.

“I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism,” said Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old center of Islamic learning. Yet, years of such atrocities have effected a near-complete cleansing of Christianity from its cradle provinces in the Holy Land.

If these persecutors and killers of Christians are apostates to Islam, headed to hell for their savageries, why have not all the imams of the world, Shiite and Sunni, risen together to condemn them as heretics? Clearly, from the suicide bombings and shootings of civilians in the Middle East, now across the West, there is a belief among some Muslims that what the killers are doing is moral and meritorious—taking the martyr’s path to salvation.

When have the imams of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and the West ever stood as one to condemn all such acts as against the tenets of Islam?

In condemning the London Bridge attack, Prime Minister Theresa May said that recent atrocities across England were “bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism.” Correct. There is an extremist school of Islam that needs to be purged from the West, even as this school of fanatics is seeking to purge Christianity from the East.

We are at war. And the imams of Islam need to answer the question: “Whose side are you on?” Are honor killings of girls and women caught in adultery justified? Are lashings and executions of Christian converts justified? Do people who hold such beliefs really belong in the United States or in the West during this long war with Islamist extremism?

Other questions need answering as well.

Is our commitment to diversity broad enough to embrace people with Islamist beliefs? Is our First Amendment freedom of speech and of religion extensive enough to cover the sermons of imams who use mosques to preach in favor of expelling Christians from the Middle East and an eventual takeover of the West for an Islam where Sharia replaces constitutional law? Are such Islamist beliefs not intolerable and perilous for our republic?

Clearly, the West is in a civilizational struggle, with the outcome in some doubt.

Four years after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese empire had ceased to exist. Japan was in smoldering ruins, its navy at the bottom of the Pacific. An American proconsul, Douglas MacArthur, was dictating to the Japanese from the Dai-Ichi building. Today we are in the sixteenth year of a war begun on September eleventh. We are mired down in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Our victory in Afghanistan is being reversed by the Taliban. While the ISIS caliphate is being eradicated in Raqqa and Mosul, its elements are in two dozen countries of the Mideast. Muslim migrants and refugees, ISIS and al-Qaida among them, are moving into Europe.

Terrorist attacks in the West grow in number and lethality every year—the new normal. Now, second-generation Muslims within Europe seem to be converting to a violent version of Islam. To fight them, we are being forced to circumscribe our sovereignty and empower the police and intelligence agencies of which free men were once taught to be wary.

Wars, it is said, are the death of republics. And we now seem to be caught up in an endless war.

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6 replies to this post
  1. I don’t know about that, “a violent version of islam”, really, is there any other kind? Twelve hundred years is a long time, but off and on, down through time violence, war, have been the way of islam.

  2. It would seem that the religion of Islam coupled with Sharia law makes that a political system rather than a religion. Political systems (especially violent ones) do not have the protections of freedom of religion.

  3. I largely agree with you, Mr. Buchanan. But I’m not convinced we should be wary of war so much as the type of war we’re waging. After all, war was necessary to leave the Japanese empire “in smoldering ruins” after WW2. We’re engaged in a war while binding our own hands in Liberalistic dogma; we’re far more interested in self-censoring (on various fronts) in the name of “principle” than we are in doing what it takes to definitively win.

    Also, wars can just as easily be seen as the lifeblood of republics — especially if they’re fighting to sustain their hard-won freedom from existential threat, much like we see in the modern, most recent iteration of the Christian-Muslim struggle, which you certainly allude to in your article.

    I think it’s also important to remember that even when the Roman Republic was in its healthiest state, non-republican institutions (e.g., dictatorship) were established to sustain the republic through turbulent times — for instance, times of indecision or other criticality. And if we fear that this setting aside of republicanism for the sake of salvaging republicanism causes some trepidation, then we should look to the root of both this non-republican decisiveness and trepidation: human nature.

    Ultimately, is human nature — which, like death, remains the only constant of irrational life — something we’re confident we can change through rationality — through reasoned argument, through republicanism? Or is human nature only made malleable through force of will? We should never forget that Roman Empire arose out of the Liberalistic ashes of the Roman Republic. This was no accident.

  4. How do we identify a mortal enemy? (By definition, an enemy “not to be pacified.”) The problem with the Left is that in its ideology, its political correctness, it fails to recognize, it is incapable of recognizing an evil that is “not to be pacified.”

    This is due to its delusional premise or idolatry that we are all socially perfectible beings, But we are facing a mortal enemy, one not to be appeased. This is not just a clash of civilizations, It is an existential clash, one testing the deepest truths of human reality and of being itself. If it is Life at the bottom of this reality what has brought life to seek to extinguish itself, as when life is being asked to sacrifice itself for other life?

    We must go deeper than life itself to see that “everlasting life” is a deeper root. Is there an evil that seeks to assault this everlasting life? What of this evil? Judeo-Christianity has personified both this spring of everlasting life, and this force of death and evil. Only in the depths of personhood can we find the added dimensions of being to signify the spring of eternal life, and an evil so ready to push life into an assault on itself, life into a self-annihilation. We must be ready to stand with the author of Life in the face of this person of death.

  5. No, I do not believe this war with Islam will ever end because Islam is a religious/political theology built on domination. There will always be groups that will seek conquest. It always has and always will.

  6. There are always those who will use religion for their own ends.
    But we have been there before with the great schisms in Christianity being settled twice. Once by Constantine knocking some heads together at Nicea and then the long negotiations to reach the treaty of Westphalia, the rapprochement of Protestants and Catholics concluding the Thirty years war which decimated Europe.
    May I quote from a Petition to the House of Commons May 1st 1649
    “that we do not empower or entrust our said Representatives to continue in force or to make any laws, oaths or covenants, whereby to compel by penalties or otherwise any person to anything in or about matters of faith or exercise of religion according to his conscience-nothing having caused more distractions and heartburnings in all ages than than persecution and molestation for matters of conscience in and about religion.”
    Have we the talent to follow Constantine’s example?

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