On Respecting Muslim Culture
For at least the past decade, and perhaps longer, the nations of the West have treated jihadists and radical Islamists (which groups count for many more Muslims than most Americans care to admit) with an inordinate level of respect so as not to "offend" them.
The first thing that should be considered is that no one is entitled to "respect." "Respect" must be earned, just as "trust" must be earned. One might argue that "courtesy" can be demanded, but to demand "respect" and "trust" is insulting to those from whom the fulfillment of the demand is required.
The second thing that should be noted is that Western nations define the word "respect" differently from the way Islamic nations do. Based on observed historical example, dominant strict Islamic nations recognize only abject subjugation, known as dhimmitude, as a display of respect. Any attempt to sustain independence from their control is viewed as being disrespectful of, if not blasphemous to, their religious sensitivities.
Third, behavior by strict adherents of Islamic doctrine in areas of personal interactions among themselves makes providing any level of respect -- much less giving them what they view as proper levels of respect -- nearly impossible.
How can non-Muslins respect a man who will murder his own daughters for the unforgivable sin of disagreement with his edicts when such disagreement might cause him the slightest embarrassment within his own culture? (His own culture being defined as the culture of his birth, not the culture of his current nation of residence.) We can offer such a man a modicum of courtesy, but has he earned our respect?
How can Westerners respect a family that effectively forces a daughter to marry against her will? One might offer polite words wishing for the future happiness of the two parties to the marriage as a courtesy, but how much respect is due to the family who would do this to their own child?
How can Westerners respect a nation that believes that a woman who has merely been accused of adultery can be subjected to a brutal death by stoning? No proof required, and under sharia law, a woman's testimony is discounted when in conflict with the testimony of a man. How does that deserve respect?
Even knowing that offering any criticism of another culture invites accusations of insensitivity, Islamophobia, racism, and any other calumny that can be hurled by academics, the dinosaur media, and liberals in general, one still has to ask what benefit the average citizen of any European or North American nation can possibly get from toleration of these displays of barbarity in the name of "diversity."
To say that America is not at war with Islam is about as logical as saying that the United States was not at war with Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. True, not every Japanese citizen was in favor of attacking America. Even the man who planned the attack, Admiral Yamamoto, didn't think it was the greatest idea he'd ever heard, but he followed orders anyway. Unfortunately, the ordinary citizens of Japan supported, actively or passively, the fanatics who were behind the attack. They continued to support those same fanatics until nuclear bombs went off over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Does this earn them any respect?
The average German citizen might not have been a Kool-Aid-drinking supporter of Adolf Hitler; some or even many of them may have cooperated for fear of the Gestapo and the concentration camps. Once again, did that earn ordinary Germans or the German government any respect?
In both cases, the very same arguments could be used to defend Muslims who don't actively oppose the strict application of sharia. They didn't personally lead the 9/11 assault on America. They didn't personally kill our ambassador in Libya. They didn't personally try to sink the USS Cole or blow up our embassy in Nairobi. And those things are all true. But is this behavior worthy of respect? In diplomatic circles we may still act in a courteous manner toward the government of Libya, but has this event created an atmosphere of respect?
If ordinary Muslims actively or passively support a group of barbaric maniacs, even if that support is coerced or offered because of a (justifiable) fear of getting their own heads cut off, does that surrender to their fear deserve our respect?
That being said, then, the idea of rules of engagement that are overly solicitous of "innocent civilians" in Afghanistan is not a rational response during a war. Afghans can either fight to expel al-Qaeda and the Taliban, or they should be viewed as equivalent to an accessory to a crime. If they choose to tolerate, and tacitly support the terrorists in their midst, does that deserve respect?
Oddly, Muslims would respect America more if that tack were taken. After all, under our definition, the 3,000-plus people who died on 9/11 were "innocent civilians," too. But the jihadists and Islamists viewed them as equally guilty since, through taxation, they supported the Great Satan. Perhaps showing them that we plan on operating using their rules and not ours will make their black, shriveled hearts go pitter-pat when we show them that we are finally respecting their ways.
It's time and past to operate under the same rules of engagement as the Islamic fanatics that we are coping with, and responding to their aggression with overwhelming force, and without the illogical and asymmetrical rules of engagement forced on our troops by the White House and the Pentagon. It is possible that America might earn the respect of the Muslim world, if not our own domestic critics.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran, and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at email@example.com.