The West must scuttle arrogant materialism and take jihadists at their word.
Bruce Thornton puts into words what I've been thinking better than I ever could.
By refusing to take the jihadist at their word, we Westerners are indulging our own superstitions and received wisdom. We have accepted the unscientific assertion that all reality is material, and so we dismiss the spiritual as a superstitious fantasy, a hold-over from less enlightened times necessary for those benighted folks still mired in exploded beliefs and incapable of accepting the hard reality of God’s death. Afraid of facing the truth of their own repressions and neuroses, believers cling to these fantasies as bulwarks against all the changes they fear, especially the liberating progress and utopian boons that are mankind’s destiny once these old illusions are discarded.
This view of religious faith is on display everywhere in our culture, from television and movies and “high” art to the ruminations of “progressive” intellectuals and media pundits. The great irony is that this interpretation of religious faith is itself not a scientific truth but mere prejudice at best, bigotry at worst. And it is a stale cliché, the remnant of old Western ideas long discredited. With every expression of this received wisdom, we hear the ghost of Marx telling us that religion is “the opiate of the people,” the “illusory sun” we must discard, the instrument of oppression invented by the oppressor to keep his victims in check. We hear Nietzsche’s cry of liberating joy at God’s death: “We philosophers and ‘’free spirits’ feel, when we hear the news that ‘the old god is dead,’ as if a new dawn shone for us . . . . At long last the horizon appears free to us again.” And we hear another antitheist (because like the other two, he doesn’t so much disbelieve in God as dislike and resent Him), Freud, telling us that “religious ideas” are “illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind.”
Armed with these old materialist prejudices, we then treat the Muslim as one sick or confused, a victim of Western crimes, a neurotic who resorts to misunderstandings and distortions of his own faith in order to cope with events whose causes he doesn’t understand. Or, as the press has done with Ahmadinejad’s letter, we explain away his belief as a Machiavellian political tactic. Either way, in the guise of rationalizing jihadist violence we display a curious Western arrogance that sweeps away the most cherished beliefs, that asserts we Westerners better understand Islam than do millions of its adherents, and that reduces Muslims to the status of children and dupes, the passive prey to material and psychological forces they can’t comprehend. How superior we are, we Westerners who see the true reality disguised from others by superstition and tradition!
Sun Tzu warned us long ago:
"(If) you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
But, he cautioned,
"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat."
On the whole, we (liberal democracies) know neither ourselves nor the enemy. Draw your own conclusions. As the era of nuclear hyperproliferation in the Muslim nation (ummah) is dawning, we've blinked. They sense weakness and smell blood.
The greatest irony is that there could be no unified Muslim jihad effort without the technology of the West, from the printing press to the Internet, oil drilling, and the car (bomb) to the guided missile.
I hope I live long enough to see the ugly divorce of the Left, fascist, Islamist alliance. They only agree on who they hate the most: Jews and Americans.