911: Religion did this
I saw a middle-aged man on the subway yesterday who, by his dress, was clearly a Muslim. This was September 10, 2011 — one day before the 10th anniversary of 911.
I wondered what it feels like to be a Muslim in the United States on the anniversary of 911. Do they feel shame, knowing that the terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 people in the attack on the World Trade Center got their justification, if not motivation, from the same holy books as they read? Do they feel any ownership? Do they take any responsibility?
I hope they do. Many of those Muslims who eschew violence as a means of jihad managed somehow, through some fairly creative cognitive dissonance, to refuse to accept that fellow Muslims could have done something so evil, so they blamed it on some shadowy cabal involving George W. Bush and the Jews.
Muslims need to own what happened on 911 because an adherence to radical Islam was the one thing that the terrorists had in common. A religious doctrine has no force if it is not accepted and followed by large numbers of people. And it was a particular religious doctrine — Islam — that provided the fuel and the spark for 911, not to mention other atrocities against non-Muslims and Muslims alike (the stoning of women accused of adultery in places like Iran, for example).
Aman Ali writes a very good piece about how American Muslims feel about the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11.
I can sympathize with someone who must constantly apologize for the crazies within his religion. But without the religion, there would be a lot fewer crazies because it is the religion itself that gives thempermission for all manner of barbarism and perversity.
I do not buy the argument that a member of a religion that perpetuates atrocities gets to absolve himself from the actions of a minority within his faith. They may sing in different keys, but they are reading from the same hymnal (or sura, as the case may be). They may have different interpretations, but it is still the word of their God they are interpreting.
I say that someone who wants to truly absolve himself from the craziness of religion has to abandon the religion altogether, not try to isolate himself from the ones within his faith that somehow have misinterpreted the words of God and his prophets.
Ali enjoins us to pick up the Koran, if we want evidence that it doesn’t condone terrorism. OK. Explain this:
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (At-Tauba, 29).
If you hate the West and are looking in the Koran or Haith for a justification to kill infidels, you can find it.
I know there are Christians, Jews and Muslims who say that agnostics and atheists like me must likewise take responsibility for the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, since both were atheists. But there is no atheist doctrine, no scripture that orders us to stone adulterers and homosexuals, or murder Jews. Those are the kinds of brutal dictates that can only come from scripture. And even a casual reading of the Koran or Old Testament clearly shows that it is OK to, say, kill children for disobeying their parents, stone homosexuals, and wage war against those who do not follow your particular brand of religion.
I don’t accept the revisionist approach that allows adherents to redact the more barbaric passages of a religion on the basis that it is now historically irrelevant. If God said that it is required to murder a child for disobeying his parents, then that’s God’s law. Don’t tell, ‘Oh, well, that was written a long time ago, and things have changed.’” Was God mistaken? Or were his prophets?
You can’t have it both ways. If you accept that scripture is the infallible word of God, you don’t get to cherry pick from it and disavow those barbarisms which may no longer seem acceptable in a civilized world. It’s the word of God, is’t it? All of it, not just some of it.And if some of it is wrong, then all of it must be wrong.
As Christopher Hitchens has said, “religion poisons everything.” The antidote is not to try to water down the religion and sanitize it; the antidote is to reject it entirely.
But I can see where a Muslim might be reluctant to reject Islam outright. After all, in many Islamic countries, the punishment for apostacy is death.
It probably works for Muslims the same way it works for Christians when the Inquisition or the Crusades or more modern Christian horrors come up. Everyone has a way of disregarding history when it suits their world view. It’s a survival mechanism.