The Evil of Good Deeds and Good Thoughts

After the Mumbai jihad there was a response of  "Do good deeds." The Jews of Chabad (the sect that had its members tortured to death) asked for Jews to do "mitzvahs," good works. A yoga group that had some of its members killed believes that love will triumph. Then Deepak Chopra weighed in with his "think good thoughts" campaign. Chopra's effort has the "magic" of if a million people pledge to think good thoughts the world will change for peace. All of these efforts may be summarized by one phrase: Be Nice.

I have nothing against being nice. Who does? But is that enough? What happened at Mumbai was evil. Any response must be aimed at preventing it from happening again. How can Being Nice prevent evil from recurring?

There is a strain of New Age, hippy, pacifist, and utopian thought which believes just that. Cue the Beatles, All We Need is Love. The Be Nice theory raises a question: if good deeds and good thoughts will prevent another Mumbai, then does that mean that the rabbi and his pregnant wife, who were tortured to death, had just not done enough mitzvah, good works? Is a 9-year-old girl who is raped just not nice enough?

Pacifists say that you should never respond to violence, because that just creates more violence. We should never use pain to correct. War is never the answer. These theories don't seem to take into account that learning how to avoid pain usually consists in remembering what lead to the pain, so we don't do that again. Pain can and will change people's behavior. Pain works.

But, the first step in resisting jihad is not violence or war, but education. The Be Nice people deny that Islamic jihad even exists. Therefore, there is nothing to learn. The Be Nice people will never even use any language that would point towards Islam. Be Nice people are doctrinal deniers. The real Islam has nothing to do with jihad, and therefore there is nothing to learn.

When the Be Nice people speak they never refer to any Islamic doctrine or history. If they speak of doctrine it is about American foreign policy. Internal motivation is missing from the "gunmen." It is as though they only respond to us. They don't have an ideology, just reactions. Or maybe they were poor, economically impoverished.

The reason that the Be Nice people do not want to learn about political Islam is that they have too many suspicions about the truth and know that they don't have the courage to face the reality. So it is better to deny that an Islamic doctrine exists and ignore it. Then when the history and doctrine are pointed out, they hint that we are bigots, we are worse than the jihadists, that such talk is offensive and should not be tolerated. To quote Islamic doctrine has been defined as bigotry and not nice.

Being nice, in and of itself, is not wrong. What is wrong is the lack of balance. Being nice is feminine. We need both compassion and wisdom. Compassion by itself leads to idiot compassion. There are some things that love can't do. We must have an approach that it practical and includes wisdom.

We need being nice as a carrot, but we must have a stick. We have already had a culture respond to Islam with good thoughts. Part of Alexander the Great's army settled down Asia and became Buddhists. They created the Ghandarvian Buddhist culture, a high point in human history. The Ghandarvian Greek Buddhists created the first Buddhist art and sculpture. When Islam invaded they had no army, only good thoughts. Alexander the Great's best soldiers had become absolute pacifists. After the jihad, we do not find a single Buddhist in what is Afghanistan today. Good thoughts and good works are not enough in the face of violence.

We must have the masculine response as well. Look at our bodies. Do you thing that our immune system just gives those misguided germs a big hug and understanding? No. It kills them. No inter-species dialogue, no being nice. Is that a bad thing? If you think so, then try AIDS, the failure of that viral/bacterial murdering (immoral, since its not nice?) immune system.

Being tough has come to mean cruel and, hence, evil. A feminized Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and secularism can no longer conceive what courage, honor and pride of civilization even means. We relegate the military and police to some social corner to do the dirty work that we don't want to think about, but criticize.

All of the religions love to each feel superior to the other. But in the face of Islam, the Christians, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus and the secularists all fall under the same banner-Be Nice. They all add Be Polite to Be Nice. Be Polite means that not only do we (Christians, Jews, Buddhists...) not talk about Islam, but Nice People don't let others talk about Islam, that would impolite, since quoting Islamic doctrine and history offends Islam. And we don't want to offend and doing more than Being Nice would cause us to examine our moral collapse and intellectual failure.

So go out there and Be Nice and Be Polite. Keep those mitzvahs coming. That will prevent evil. Think happy thoughts. Love. That will change Islam. Oh wait! Islam does not need to change. We just need to Be Nicer!

Bill Warner, PhD is Director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam.