The Pope's words and Islam's reaction

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As Muslim groups denounce the words of Pope Benedict XVI, two non—Catholic churches were attacked in the West Bank.

I am no religious scholar, but from what I read, it appears that in Islam any skepticism or criticism by a non—believer, particularly one without the backing of a standing army (as Stalin's famous question stated, "How many divisions does the Pope have?"), is an attack worthy of a violent reply.

One of the churches attacked on the West Bank, shown in an AP photo, was Greek Orthodox. The Greek government — if not its people — have been pro—Palestinian and critical of Israel for decades. No matter. Egyptian Coptic Church officials criticized the Pope and sided with protesting Muslims. Coptics live surrounded by Islam and have been violently attacked by Muslim rioters in the past. See the US Copt's website homepage to read about attacks and killings of Copts in Egypt.

I will make an assumption here that at least one of the attacks on the churches, if not all, were done with the express approval of a Muslim political leadership intelligent and informed enough to know there is a difference between the Catholic Church and other branches of Christianity. Had the spiritual leader of Hamas (an oxymoron if there ever was one) decreed only street demonstrations, Hamas would have ordered the population to only march in the street. Hamas gunmen would have made sure that it didn't escalate to an attack on churches.

In the Middle East, tyranny and despotism reign. My late father used to tell me a joke, worthy of Aesop's fables, about the despotic Tsarist government before World War I. It went like this. Packs of dogs were running away from Russia into Poland. A Polish border guard asked a dog why he was fleeing. The dog replied that the Tsar was castrating elephants. The border guard said, "So what concern is that to you?" To this, the dog replied, "Go tell them in Russia that you are not an elephant!." The meaning, perhaps clearer to those more familiar with despotic regimes than most American readers here, is that once a despotic regime unleashes a wave of repression and killing, then everyone the regime hates is at risk, not just the immediate target of a ruler's edict.

The Pope is obviously an intelligent person. He saw the riots that resulted from the Danish cartoons' publication. He sees the Muslim mass migration to his native Germany and the rest of Europe. I believe he made his statement because he knew the issue of the Muslim—Western cultural conflict wasn't going away and had to start being addressed with the hope that a peaceful resolution could be worked out among religious leaders before things get worse. I think he wants to facilitate some kind of Reformation or Counterreformation or Modernization — call it what you will — within Islam. That has to be tried — or the bloodshed we see in the world will escalate above today's not—so—low levels.

And it is not just the West that sees that Islam is troubled. Intelligent Muslims are troubled by the decadence of the Saudi rulers, the "honor killings" of women for not wanting to marry someone their father designates and the numerous wars between Shiite and Suni factions because one feels they are more holy than the next group.

In the US, they used to sell a t—shirt that said, "Kill them all, let God sort it out." But that policy didn't make it into the US military's Rules of Engagement. It did, however, make it into militant Islam's Rules of Engagement. I believe the Pope brought up the subject of Islam's expansionist doctrine because he wanted to head off the day when the West would have to adapt that t—shirt slogan — or cease to exist.

Update:

After writing the above, a lot has happened. The Pope has offerered a qualified quasi—apology. Various Muslim newspapers have vehemently rejected even his concepts and premises as insulting and unacceptable.

I believe the dialogue the Pope hoped to start is in real danger of being short—circuited before it had a chance to begin, at least for now. Whether a religious dialogue can be revived at a later date, is becoming less likely by the minute. I believe the Islamists, particularly the ones in Iran, think they are an ascending, winning force now. They will have no spiritual dialogue between Islam and the West until Islam believes that a meeting of minds or compromise is necessary in the worldly realm of political power, i.e., when Iran believes they can no longer kill us in the West.

Jack Kemp (not the politician)  9 16 06

As Muslim groups denounce the words of Pope Benedict XVI, two non—Catholic churches were attacked in the West Bank.

I am no religious scholar, but from what I read, it appears that in Islam any skepticism or criticism by a non—believer, particularly one without the backing of a standing army (as Stalin's famous question stated, "How many divisions does the Pope have?"), is an attack worthy of a violent reply.

One of the churches attacked on the West Bank, shown in an AP photo, was Greek Orthodox. The Greek government — if not its people — have been pro—Palestinian and critical of Israel for decades. No matter. Egyptian Coptic Church officials criticized the Pope and sided with protesting Muslims. Coptics live surrounded by Islam and have been violently attacked by Muslim rioters in the past. See the US Copt's website homepage to read about attacks and killings of Copts in Egypt.

I will make an assumption here that at least one of the attacks on the churches, if not all, were done with the express approval of a Muslim political leadership intelligent and informed enough to know there is a difference between the Catholic Church and other branches of Christianity. Had the spiritual leader of Hamas (an oxymoron if there ever was one) decreed only street demonstrations, Hamas would have ordered the population to only march in the street. Hamas gunmen would have made sure that it didn't escalate to an attack on churches.

In the Middle East, tyranny and despotism reign. My late father used to tell me a joke, worthy of Aesop's fables, about the despotic Tsarist government before World War I. It went like this. Packs of dogs were running away from Russia into Poland. A Polish border guard asked a dog why he was fleeing. The dog replied that the Tsar was castrating elephants. The border guard said, "So what concern is that to you?" To this, the dog replied, "Go tell them in Russia that you are not an elephant!." The meaning, perhaps clearer to those more familiar with despotic regimes than most American readers here, is that once a despotic regime unleashes a wave of repression and killing, then everyone the regime hates is at risk, not just the immediate target of a ruler's edict.

The Pope is obviously an intelligent person. He saw the riots that resulted from the Danish cartoons' publication. He sees the Muslim mass migration to his native Germany and the rest of Europe. I believe he made his statement because he knew the issue of the Muslim—Western cultural conflict wasn't going away and had to start being addressed with the hope that a peaceful resolution could be worked out among religious leaders before things get worse. I think he wants to facilitate some kind of Reformation or Counterreformation or Modernization — call it what you will — within Islam. That has to be tried — or the bloodshed we see in the world will escalate above today's not—so—low levels.

And it is not just the West that sees that Islam is troubled. Intelligent Muslims are troubled by the decadence of the Saudi rulers, the "honor killings" of women for not wanting to marry someone their father designates and the numerous wars between Shiite and Suni factions because one feels they are more holy than the next group.

In the US, they used to sell a t—shirt that said, "Kill them all, let God sort it out." But that policy didn't make it into the US military's Rules of Engagement. It did, however, make it into militant Islam's Rules of Engagement. I believe the Pope brought up the subject of Islam's expansionist doctrine because he wanted to head off the day when the West would have to adapt that t—shirt slogan — or cease to exist.

Update:

After writing the above, a lot has happened. The Pope has offerered a qualified quasi—apology. Various Muslim newspapers have vehemently rejected even his concepts and premises as insulting and unacceptable.

I believe the dialogue the Pope hoped to start is in real danger of being short—circuited before it had a chance to begin, at least for now. Whether a religious dialogue can be revived at a later date, is becoming less likely by the minute. I believe the Islamists, particularly the ones in Iran, think they are an ascending, winning force now. They will have no spiritual dialogue between Islam and the West until Islam believes that a meeting of minds or compromise is necessary in the worldly realm of political power, i.e., when Iran believes they can no longer kill us in the West.

Jack Kemp (not the politician)  9 16 06