Archive - Sep 28, 2006
From an op-ed piece in USA Today by Jonah Goldberg:
There's no substitute for a good pope. What other religious leader can start a global argument about theology? The Dalai Lama? Perhaps. The archbishop of Canterbury? Doubtful. Pat Robertson? Please.
Notice how the pope doesn't have a Muslim counterpart to "dialogue" with. It's the pope vs. 10,000 imams, scholars and other self-anointed spokesmen for Islam. It's a bit like Gulliver vs. the Lilliputians.
So, where is the Muslim pope? This question isn't often asked in the West. Particularly among left-leaning scholars of Islam, the search has been on for a "Muslim Martin Luther."...
This quest for a Muslim Luther centered on the understandable hope that such a person could reform Islam toward liberalization and modernization, just as Luther supposedly did in Europe. The problem is he did no such thing. His gripe with Roman Catholicism wasn't that it was too reactionary and rigid, but just the opposite. He thought the church had become too worldly and licentious, selling "indulgences" â€” or divine do-overs â€” to the highest bidder and the like.
The early Protestants were hardly "moderates" and, normally, secular liberals are keen to make this point. When was the last time you heard a Western liberal pine for a return of Puritanism? Luther and his immediate successors were true believers. And, while enormous theological and historical differences shouldn't be overlooked, today's Islamic fundamentalists have quite a bit in common with these religious crusaders...
Today, Islam is chockablock with Muslim Luthers claiming to have a monopoly on the Quran's true meaning. Murderers can shop around for a fatwa endorsing the most horrific â€” and technically un-Islamic â€” barbarism like junkies searching for a corrupt doctor with a prescription pad for hire.
No, what the Muslim world needs is a pope. Large, old institutions such as the Catholic Church have the "worldliness" to value flexibility and tolerance, and the moral and theological authority to clamp down on those who see compromise as heresy. Pope Clement XIV's famous, or infamous, suppression of Jesuits in 1773 might be an example of both qualities. The Ottoman Empire played a similar, if imperfect, role before its demise. In its absence, Islamic Lilliputians run amok. Ironically, Muslims don't want this divisiveness. The jihadists strive to restore the caliphate as an Islamist thousand-year Reich. But even the moderates long for unity among the Islamic nations. They might one day forge the sort of compromise we in the West reached, but the road map there isn't well illuminated by our past.
From an article of the same title in The Week on September 22, 2006:
Warning of an imminent bloodbath in the Darfur region of Sudan, tens of thousands of protesters in New York, London, and other cities this week demanded immediate U.N. intervention. Several world leaders joined the call for U.N. action. The Security Council last month agreed to dispatch 22,500 peacekeepers to Darfur, contingent on the permission of the Sudan government in Khartoum. But the government, which has launched a brutal offensive against rebel groups, opposes U.N. involvement...
The U.S. must take the lead, said Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Bob Dole in The Washington Post. We could start by imposing economic sanctions and creating a no-fly zone over Darfur. But we should also make it clear that if these measures fail, military intervention will follow. "The question is whether the United States and other nations will act now to prevent a tragedy, or merely express sorrow and act later to deal with its aftermath."
The article by McCain and Dole in The Washington Post is here. A quote:
The scale of human destruction thus far in Sudan has been staggering. Already, more than 200,000 civilians have been killed, with perhaps 2.5 million forced into squalid camps. This catastrophe is the result of a directed slaughter perpetrated by the Sudanese government and allied Janjaweed militias...
As with Srebrenica in 1995, the potential for further mass killing in Darfur today is plain for all to see. All the warnings have been issued, including one from the United Nations that the coming weeks may see "a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale." What remains unclear is only whether the world has the will to impose an outcome on Sudan different from that which unfolded so tragically in Bosnia. Make no mistake: At some point we will step in to help victims in Darfur and police an eventual settlement. The question is whether the United States and other nations will act now to prevent a tragedy, or merely express sorrow and act later to deal with its aftermath.