Someone I love traveled to Istanbul and pointed north last month for a graduate school project. I read up on the Islamic history of the region so I could picture the historical places she was visiting.
Whoa! Good thing I did this research after breakfast:
- Instead of firing one important leader who had let him down, the Muslim Sultan had him strangled with bowstring and decapitated. Then he had his head skinned, stuffed and sent to him.
- After a battle defeat, a Muslim Grand Vizier had his bodyguard strangle more than 50 pashas, or officials.
- The same guy, described as having “a fanatical hatred of Christians,” took over a village in Austria, ordered prisoners to be killed systematically, and had a row of their severed heads displayed to demoralize passers-by.
Now, everybody knows Christians have terrible things on their record, too, starting off with several bloody massacres of Muslims during the Crusades. Terrible! Deplorable! And yes, these atrocities happened centuries ago, before cameras and the Internet; maybe they had no shame because they could keep this stuff mostly secret.
But as I continued reading the history of Islam, it became a steady drumbeat of unending depravity. Anecdote after anecdote showed an Islamic civilization that was stupendously violent, inhuman and heartless: 280 concubines ordered drowned; five brothers of a new Sultan strangled so they wouldn’t threaten his rule; the top Christian priest officiating at Easter services kidnapped by soldiers who threw a rope around his neck, dragged him through the streets, hung him from a gate for three days ‘til he choked to death, and then dragged his body by the legs through the streets, weighed it with stones, and dumped it into the river, while mobs roamed the streets, looting churches and destroying artifacts.
After a few chapters, I couldn’t take it any more. I put the book down.
What kind of people are these? How could they not know that what they were doing was wrong?
My heart filled with compassion for people who didn’t seem to have a “check” on their actions – some moral foundation, some basic standard of decency — much less love for their fellow human beings.
So when the terrifying photos of more violence against non-combatants came back from Cairo and Egypt, spreading now around the Islamic world, I wasn’t surprised. Just resolved, stronger than ever, to work to get Obama and his team out of the White House in November.
The Obama administration is fueling the fire. They are making things worse. They are incapable of enlightened foreign policy in the Middle East, because they don’t understand the “why’s” of what’s happening.
Islam has a contradictory message about violence, going back to its foundation 1,400 years ago. Muhammad dictated the Qur’an, which contains hundreds of verses that have been interpreted as condoning violence in all its forms. The Prophet himself did not shy away from violence. Muhammad organized 65 military campaigns and led 27 personally. He ordered 800 Jews to be beheaded. He killed several people personally.
Contrast that with what we know about the life of Christ. All you can say is: wow.
The Qur’an unabashedly denies the divinity, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Sura 4:171, 19:30, 4:157) and is diametrically opposed to the Judeo-Christian ethics which undergird western civilization.
While the Bible tells us to love one another, including our enemies, because God is love and loves all of us all of the time . . . in the Qur’an, Muslims are instructed that “God loveth not those Who reject Faith.” (Sura 3:33)
The Bible warns us never to take revenge on anyone, but the Qur’an recommends it (Sura 2:194).
While the Bible tells us to treat strangers and foreigners, even those radically different from ourselves, with honor and respect, the Qur’an says, “(F)ight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them, in every stratagem of war.” (Sura 9:5)
While the New Testament describes all people as being from one family tree and so we should behave toward each other accordingly, using violence only in self-defense or in a just war, the Qur’an calls Jews “apes,” “pigs” and “like donkeys” (2:65, 5:60, 7:166, 62:5), recommends that Muslims should chop off the heads and fingers of nonbelievers (8:12), and calls for the death, crucifixion, amputation or banishment who people who oppose Allah and Prophet Muhammad (5:33).
“Nonbelievers”, by the way, would be (gulp) us.
No way do I believe the vast, vast majority of Muslims are ready to go out and do these things. But when you look at the history – including recent history – you do see that enough people are interpreting their faith’s call to act out in hatred and violence that we who do not fit into their paradigm are falling deeper and deeper into danger.
And all these serious conflicts, and the way the Obama Administration is responding to events in the Middle East, just make it more and more obvious that Obama and his assembled team are incapable of dealing effectively with Islam.
Ironically, that’s not because they don’t understand Islam – but because they don’t understand the Judeo-Christian ethic.
They may understand the history and beliefs of Islam, but they don’t “get” our side, and how it’s vastly better, more peaceful, more productive, fairer, more tolerant of diversity, and more free.
You never win a game with a quarterback and players who aren’t playing for your team with all their hearts, and playing by the rules to boot.
I was “done” with Obama when I heard him ridicule the Old Testament during his first Presidential campaign, when he bowed to the Saudi king, when he stiffed our friend Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. What American Christian does that stuff? Gong!
I was “done” with Hillary Clinton when I heard her laughing and joking over the capture and assassination of Moammar Gadhafi. What American Christian laughs over a human being’s death? Double gong!
The statements about the Middle East that are coming from the Romney campaign, and from the type of people most likely to fill his Cabinet and deal with the Middle Eastern challenges, are much more in line with the Judeo-Christian principles that are rooted in human rights, civil liberties, individuality vs. collectivism, nonviolence, fairness and freedom.
I hold out a whole lot more hope for the future with people like Romney and his team representing us in the Middle East, than the Obama team.
Here’s why: I have a very manly, soft-spoken, Christian friend with views and mannerisms a lot like Romney’s; ‘strongly gentle’, I guess you’d say. He happens to be an expert in police administration and certain techniques of police work.
After 9/11, and upon his retirement from the local police force, he became a civilian advisor to the Baghdad police. His mission was to help them develop modern police systems to figure out who the criminals and other terrorists were, where they were meeting, who was funding them, how to capture them, and so forth.
He said the Iraqi police techniques were minimal and sadly outdated. With patience and friendship over two years, occasionally dodging bombs and bullets, he taught them everything he knew. They told him over and over how much good he had done them.
Near the end of his tour there, an Iraqi police official, a devout Muslim, invited him to dinner at his home. You know: eating with your fingers from a communal bowl, the whole nine yards. My friend was honored that he was trusted and treated like a close friend in this way.
After the meal, the Iraqi police official motioned him to a small home office, dominated by a huge storage cabinet. He opened it, and brought out a ceremonial headdress.
It was his father’s. His father and his uncles had been brutally assassinated on direct orders from Saddam Hussein.
When the United States moved Hussein and his team out of power and started restoring and rebuilding Baghdad, this local police official had been tremendously blessed and grateful. And now, through this American risking his hide to come and share his expertise, the local police department had vaulted forward decades in technical ability.
He put the headdress on my Christian friend, saying, “Go home, and tell America that no matter what they hear elsewhere, the people of Iraq are tremendously grateful for what your country has done for us.”
That’s why the War on Terror is worth it.
That’s why Americans have to keep fighting it.
That’s why we need a strong, better, wiser, more moral Commander in Chief, so that we can win this war, and live happily ever after with the people who should not be our enemies, but our very close friends.