Monday, January 15, 2007

Dinesh D’Souza’s Unholy Alliance

Happy New Year.

From time to time I read the weekly newsmagazine "The World," one of the more articulate and thoughtful publications from the Christian right. The 13 January 2007 issue includes a short piece by Dinesh D’Souza and a discussion between him and World editor Marvin Olasky.

D’Souza asks why it is that so many Muslims seem to hate the West. What is it… democracy? Free speech? Limited government? No, he concludes – it’s homosexuality, pornography, women wearing revealing clothing, drugs, wild music – it’s individualism and hedonism, it’s the alleged decadence of our culture. And – to D’Souza – this hate is completely understandable, and conservative Christians should share it too. Hence D’Souza proposes a natural alliance between conservative Christians and what he calls traditional Muslims (as opposed to radical ones like Bin Laden). The target of this new alliance: "the enemy at home" (the title of his new book), i.e. advocates of secularism, liberalism, individualism, and reason.

In the discussion, D’Souza argues that in order to form this alliance, Christians and Muslims must each give in a bit to each other – in particular, both groups must freely permit conversions between Christianity and Islam. He apparently thinks this is a small price to pay for the greater goal of fighting the real enemy.

In the discussion between D’Souza and Olasky, Olasky doubts that Muslims could accept anything like this. D’Souza responds by arguing that historically, Muslims did not systematically kill or oppress Christians and Jews – only pagans and similar non-believers in Jehovah. Olasky will have none of it, and gives counterexamples – but the whole gist of the discussion is what is fascinating and disgusting. Neither man seems to find anything particularly objectionable about using force to systematically kill or oppress non-believers. The entire premise of D’Souza’s argument is that the state should be used to force Judeo-Christo-Islamic "morality" on the rest of us, the "enemy."

Great. Is the Bible true? Which religion, if any, is right? It would be nice to be able to sit down, think seriously about these issues, and decide as best we can using logic and evidence, without also having to worry that if we come up with answers that the imams and preachers don’t like, they’ll kill us. I suppose D’Souza would deny he’s in favor of killing non-believers, but he’s already ID’d us as the enemy. The deluded followers of con men such as Ted Haggard and Pat Roberston might not always be able understand why this enemy shouldn’t be killed (Lev. 20:27, Lev. 24:16).

D’Souza is quite right, I think, in believing that political Christianity and political Islam ought to be natural allies. Both deny reason, both substitute an arbitrary moral code for the respect for individual rights, and both call for the use of force against non-believers. I think they’ll not ally themselves, because of their knee-jerk intolerance for alternative viewpoints. Regardless, these religious doctrines must be defeated, intellectually and in public opinion, because D’Souza is also right that they are incompatible with individual liberty.

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