The Trouble with Islam

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Laden may feel on the subject, Muslims don’t have anything special on us in the grudge department. America has enemies everywhere.

Vietnamese and Cubans have every right to hate us. Along with Serbs and Chinese. As do, I’m sure, plenty of Germans, Japanese, Russians, Latin Americans, Caribbeans, and SH<hs. I bet lots of sub-Saharan Africans don’t wish us very well, either. So why is it just Muslims who try to purchase half-way tickets to Miami?

It’s because there is something wrong with Islam, that’s why. Two somethings, actually.

In the first place, Muslims pray too much.

Anybody who makes a point of getting up before dawn to take a compass bearing on which way to aim a rug so he can say his prayers, and does the same thing four more times before turning in for the night, and then starts all over again the next day, that person is truly righteous, clean living, and follows the tenets of his faith. But he is not a child of the Enlightenment.

And the only thing our poor species has ever done throughout the entire history of the world that’s worth a jar of warm spit is the Enlightenment. Before the Enlightenment, it was all wars and princes and priests and people getting jerked around by bandits, famine, pestilence, and their own, rotten governments.

After the Enlightenment, well . . . afterwards there are still plenty of wars and preachers and princes, and lots of bandits and hunger and disease, and way too many rotten governments, but sometimes there’s something else. Sometimes there’s real change. Sometimes, now, we find a medicine that actually makes people better. Or build a machine that works. Or see nature as she really is. But none of that comes through faith.

A thousand generations of faith never looked into a spiral nebula, nor weighed a single atom of gold, nor saw the face of Earth from the moon. And all the faithful all the world over never listened to the background hum of creation, nor learned how to make economics into something other than a zero-sum game, nor discovered how to limit the power of kings.

And all of that, every bit of it, was earned painful step by painful step through a rigorous and unrelenting ethic of skepticism of endless suspicion of everything we are told and most of what we see; through unremitting distrust of inherited knowledge, through constant doubt in place of belief. And, for every illusion we cast off, the reward was a deeper insight into the mind of God. And whatever else you say about somebody who prays five times a day, he is a man of faith, not skepticism.

A community of faith that stretches from Tangiers to Mindanao is bound to be impoverished, superstitious, and bitter of the success of others. But whether that community will breed up a generation of mass murderers requires more than. naked religious conviction. It requires something that only Islam of all the world religions provides: a swarm of rich guys hogging the chicks.

For every extra woman a rich man locks behind his private walls, there is a young buck somewhere with no hope of ever finding a bride, or siring a son to carry on his name; someone whose only prospect of a normal life is to cash in on the 72 imaginary virgins rubbing their legs together in Paradise in hopes he will join them after the next B-52 raid.

You can see it in the papers, the stories from Kabul and Kandahar of Northern Alliance fighters chatting with Marines and Rangers. When they ask about America, it’s not to find out about video games or rock concerts or where you buy blue jeans. It’s, how do you meet girls? And, what happens on a date?

It’s not economic divisions between nations, nor cultural affronts, or anything else we as Americans have participated in, that inspires these guys to go up in a ball of flame along with a thousand innocents. It’s the genuine human desire for the wife and family that’s been kept from them, all mixed up with prayer and faith and other spooky nonsense.

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