The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In a Name

Joseph Britt's final post on Belgravia Dispatch [reviewed here] has been refined and reprinted as a Washington Post editorial: Arab Genocide, Arab Silence.

We've heard a lot since Sept. 11, 2001, about how Arabs feel humiliated, ashamed, resentful at being regarded by the West as inferior in some way. Sometimes we ignore these feelings; sometimes we try to appease them. Perhaps it is time to say plainly that the way to earn respect is through deeds worthy of respect.

Also today, the Belmont Club mourns for murdered Iraqi children:

The empirical fact is that no group has been killed more often and more brutally by the "Jihad" than Muslims themselves.... The first objective of terror, indeed of the Terror, and the first objective of the Jihad is to maintain internal control over its base.

... But many conservatives have also been blind to the urgent requirement of creating a liberation movement within Islam, in part because they half believe all Muslims are themselves the enemy; in part because they despair of Muslims ever rising up against the medieval institutions which constrain them; in part because they haven't thought about it. But they should. That pile of bloody children's slippers on an Iraqi street is a tally of spirits who were created to be free.

But how can "a liberation movement within Islam" form? How can its adherents show themselves to be different from the butchers and enablers who dominate the public face of their faith? If a struggle to reform Islam were taking place right now, how would we even know?

The problem is that there is no word for "non-fascist, post-medieval Islam" or for the followers thereof, nor is it simple to create one. When the Church was mired in corruption and the exercise of temporal power, those seeking to purge it called themselves Protestants, but they did not thereby cease being Christians. Try to describe the Reformation, without using the words "Protestant" or "Catholic", to someone who does not know the results.

Only once such a movement can be named can we say who belongs to it, or how it can be supported. At present we see only the opposite.