The Pope Battles Dhimmitude

We have all enjoyed tut—tutting about the Muslim cultural practice of dhimmitude, the notion that under Islam the infidel is a second—class citizen and must defer to the faithful at all times. No eating and drinking in front of the faithful during Ramadan, for example.

But it is clear from the events of the last week that dhimmitude is here right now.

I'd never had much time for Oriana Fallaci, the outrageous Italian interviewer and journalist, but appreciated her diatribes against Islam in the years since 9/11, and wrinkled my nose on learning that she was being sued for insulting the faith.  But the head of the Italian journalists' union marked her death last week by saying that she was a

'great, courageous and scrupulous journalist but also an intellectual whose most recent views were unacceptable and in many respects dangerous.'

What can you call that but dhimmitude?

Then there is the flap over the Pope's remarks at the University of Regensburg.  In a scholarly speech on September 12, 2006  that primarily defended the idea of Jesus Christ as the living God, Pope Benedict XVI raised the question that ought to be the central question that Christians ask of Muslims.  What is with all this holy war stuff?  He quoted the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus:

'Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...'

The Christian God is a reasonable God, he asserts, the Word made flesh.

'But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent,'

independent of reason or anything else.  Then he headed off into a learned apology for the Christian God, the union of the Hebrew prophetic tradition and the Hellenistic logos.

Since it is merely a couple of weeks since two Fox News staffers were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam—without a peep of outrage from the moderate Muslim community—I'd say that it was the Pope's duty to raise the question of jihad with the Muslim world.  If the head of the Catholic Church won't do it who will?

But the international media was united in condemning the Pope's remarks as a gaffe, an insult to Islam.  And now the Pope says he is sorry for the way people reacted, if not for what he said.

That was when the scales fell off my eyes.  What's all the fuss? 

In fact, we have the same system here in the United States.  Call it liberal dhimmitude.  Every conservative lives under its oppressive yoke.

Disagree with the liberal line and you better expect to be attacked and humiliated. That's how the system works. 

The "progressive" left stirs up a conflict and blames the international middle class.  Maybe it's Marx blaming the bourgeoisie for the subsistence wages of the industrial working class.  Maybe it's Lenin claiming that every European is an imperialist.  Maybe it's liberals dividing black and white in the United States with racial quotas, or declaring upper—middle—class women the victim of the male of the species. 

Now liberals are united in protecting Muslims from insult and tossing away our tradition of free speech.  The only thing that matters is to make westerners—or Christians, or Americans—take the blame, to make them into dhimmi, second—class citizens afraid to stand up for the Christian God, the rule of law, and the bounty of the market.

If you read the Pope's speech at Regensburg carefully you can appreciate the radicalism of the Christian message.  The idea that God is a rational God, who invites us to discover His nature through an exploration of reason, is radical.  It makes the claim that, in the end, we will find out that the universe makes sense. 

It is the same claim that western science makes, that we can understand the universe by discovering its laws.  Both Christianity and science are grounded in the same faith, that there are indeed laws that describe the universe.

But Islam and western postmodernism make a different claim.  For them there is no 'In the beginning was the Word,' the logos of reason.

There is only power: divine power or secular power.

The Chinese have a different take on the modern world.  According to David Aikman in the book Jesus in Beijing, the Chinese have been wondering for generations what it is about the west that makes it so powerful.  Now 'Dr. Wu' of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says that they have found us out.

'In the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.  That is why the West has been so powerful.'

That is also what Pope Benedict XVI is saying in different words.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He blogs here. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

We have all enjoyed tut—tutting about the Muslim cultural practice of dhimmitude, the notion that under Islam the infidel is a second—class citizen and must defer to the faithful at all times. No eating and drinking in front of the faithful during Ramadan, for example.

But it is clear from the events of the last week that dhimmitude is here right now.

I'd never had much time for Oriana Fallaci, the outrageous Italian interviewer and journalist, but appreciated her diatribes against Islam in the years since 9/11, and wrinkled my nose on learning that she was being sued for insulting the faith.  But the head of the Italian journalists' union marked her death last week by saying that she was a

'great, courageous and scrupulous journalist but also an intellectual whose most recent views were unacceptable and in many respects dangerous.'

What can you call that but dhimmitude?

Then there is the flap over the Pope's remarks at the University of Regensburg.  In a scholarly speech on September 12, 2006  that primarily defended the idea of Jesus Christ as the living God, Pope Benedict XVI raised the question that ought to be the central question that Christians ask of Muslims.  What is with all this holy war stuff?  He quoted the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus:

'Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...'

The Christian God is a reasonable God, he asserts, the Word made flesh.

'But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent,'

independent of reason or anything else.  Then he headed off into a learned apology for the Christian God, the union of the Hebrew prophetic tradition and the Hellenistic logos.

Since it is merely a couple of weeks since two Fox News staffers were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam—without a peep of outrage from the moderate Muslim community—I'd say that it was the Pope's duty to raise the question of jihad with the Muslim world.  If the head of the Catholic Church won't do it who will?

But the international media was united in condemning the Pope's remarks as a gaffe, an insult to Islam.  And now the Pope says he is sorry for the way people reacted, if not for what he said.

That was when the scales fell off my eyes.  What's all the fuss? 

In fact, we have the same system here in the United States.  Call it liberal dhimmitude.  Every conservative lives under its oppressive yoke.

Disagree with the liberal line and you better expect to be attacked and humiliated. That's how the system works. 

The "progressive" left stirs up a conflict and blames the international middle class.  Maybe it's Marx blaming the bourgeoisie for the subsistence wages of the industrial working class.  Maybe it's Lenin claiming that every European is an imperialist.  Maybe it's liberals dividing black and white in the United States with racial quotas, or declaring upper—middle—class women the victim of the male of the species. 

Now liberals are united in protecting Muslims from insult and tossing away our tradition of free speech.  The only thing that matters is to make westerners—or Christians, or Americans—take the blame, to make them into dhimmi, second—class citizens afraid to stand up for the Christian God, the rule of law, and the bounty of the market.

If you read the Pope's speech at Regensburg carefully you can appreciate the radicalism of the Christian message.  The idea that God is a rational God, who invites us to discover His nature through an exploration of reason, is radical.  It makes the claim that, in the end, we will find out that the universe makes sense. 

It is the same claim that western science makes, that we can understand the universe by discovering its laws.  Both Christianity and science are grounded in the same faith, that there are indeed laws that describe the universe.

But Islam and western postmodernism make a different claim.  For them there is no 'In the beginning was the Word,' the logos of reason.

There is only power: divine power or secular power.

The Chinese have a different take on the modern world.  According to David Aikman in the book Jesus in Beijing, the Chinese have been wondering for generations what it is about the west that makes it so powerful.  Now 'Dr. Wu' of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says that they have found us out.

'In the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.  That is why the West has been so powerful.'

That is also what Pope Benedict XVI is saying in different words.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He blogs here. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.