Over at Vox Nova, everyone’s favorite ultramontane Liberal singles out this website for its “scaremongering” and “stupid jihadism rhetoric.” The very strong implication of the post is that we have little to fear from Islam, and that “humanitarian relief,” “more visas to study and work in the US, and better trade links,” along with a cessation of “anti-Islamic bombast,” and “domestic xenophobia,” will mitigate whatever minor troubles we do face.
The peculiar thing here is that Morning’s Minion shares with his Neoconservative opponents an assumption which we fundamentally reject: namely, that the character of Islamic doctrine and practice depends upon the actions of the West. It is our view that this is only true on the margins. America led by an Obama administration could pursue each of the goals Morning’s Minion has laid out — an end to reckless wars and rhetoric, more humanitarian relief, more of those precious student visas — and still the doctrines of Jihad, Sharia and Dhimma would remain. In short, Minion joins with those he professes to oppose in regarding Muslims as mere ciphers for Western policy disputes, mere automata responding solely to external stimuli.
The force of this assumption prevents a true appreciation of the antiquity and endurance of these doctrines, and thus the persistence of their influence on the world. The Jihad has taken many forms; it has assumed the guises of every age, reflected the character of the peoples it inspired and impelled to war; it has adapted and adjusted to times and place: But in its essentials it has remained unchanged. As Chesterton so wisely put it:
A void is made in the heart of Islam which has to be filled up again and again by a mere repetition of the revolution that founded it. There are no sacraments; the only thing that can happen is a sort of apocalypse, as unique as the end of the world; so the apocalypse can only be repeated and the world end again and again. There are no priests; and yet this equality can only breed a multitude of lawless prophets almost as numerous as priests. The very dogma that there is only one Mahomet produces an endless procession of Mahomets.
It will not do to understand Islam and its doctrines of Holy War and Holy Subjugation exclusively through the lens of Western politics. Nor will it do to conflate warnings about the peril of these doctrines with support for the democratic imperialism that has characterized much of our post-9/11 foreign policy.