An important objection to the Muslim strategy

Bonifacius has made me realize a serious danger in my Christian-Muslim alliance strategy:

Now, when certain subjects are discussed, to propose reasons is to entertain the notion that a particular idea is actually a matter of reasonable debate. Sometimes the only way to really convey the sense of censure that a particular idea merits is “bullying,” shunning, etc., as you, Bonald, have noted elsewhere on this blog (see your defense of bullying). It seems, Bonald, that you have simply, and sadly, lost the visceral repugnance that men of the West should have for the Islamic alien worldview and population entering Europe. Rehashing the arguments (like the fact that Mohammedans see Sharia as having universal applicability and therefore are extremely unlikely to respect Christian autonomous areas except when forced to do so by the sword, etc.) is probably futile at this point…

Anyone with a proper love of orthodoxy should feel a corresponding abhorrence of heresy, and of false religions all the more.  It should, as Bonifacius indicates, be an automatic, visceral response, one preceding–indeed precluding–argument.  Has my horror of irreligion caused me to lose a proper horror of false religion?  Perhaps, but if so that’s only a matter of my own soul.  More importantly, though, one could argue that my strategy would expose all Christians who partake in it to this temptation.  If Muslims become our allies, won’t we be tempted to start feeling that the divinity of Christ really isn’t such a big deal after all?  (From the Muslim point of view, it would expose them to the temptation of losing their proper horror of Christian “idolatry” and “tritheism”, but I speak as a Christian.)  Yes, I think this is a real danger.  It may be–although I’m still not sure–a necessary danger; it’s certainly not as spiritually corrosive as any Christian-Liberal alliance against Islam would surely be.  Orthodox Christians have in the past admired non-Christians without spiritual harm (think of St. Thomas and Aristotle and Ibn Sina, or Dante and Virgil) but always from a safe distance in space and time.  We must be sure that my grand anti-liberal alliance doesn’t end up sneaking in liberal “tolerance” through the back door.

7 Responses

  1. Well put. As I said in my last comment on the debate on whether Moslems worship the same God we do, “As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I do not desire to honor false religions any more than basic intellectual honesty requires.” Moslems may be useful to our cause in an occasional limited, tactical way, but we must always beware of false religion, especially powerful and confident false religion.

  2. It might help if we begin by discarding the dualism of religion and irreligion. Many “religions” are extremely hideous, and all “irreligious” people worship something, be it power, their belly, Eros, sensation, or whatever else. They are essentially Pagans who find their “gods” in the mundane world among the natural forces and appetites. As conservative Christians, or specifically as Roman Catholics, we must ask which of these sects is most inimical to the purity and propagation of our faith. Or, to bring the question down to a size we can deal with, we should ask which most threaten to ensnare our souls or the souls of our children. I think it is obvious that, in the short run, we and our children are more likely to be drawn into Pagan cults, since in these the rewards are all “front-loaded.” In these the “glamor of evil” can be very beguiling, and we share with Muslims an interest in reducing this glamor. So there is no reason why we couldn’t work with Muslims, or even conservative atheists, to suppress the glamorization of promiscuity, power, greed, etc.

    Over the long run, however, the problem is not only this “glamor of evil,” but also the relative fertility of rival faiths, particularly when they share a single polity. Without recruitment the Pagans will die off, since their fertility rate is way below replacement. If it were simply a question of Christians and Pagans, we’d have only to learn how to retain our children and wait. Assuming that Muslim fertility rates remain relatively high, our long-term strategy must be immigration restriction and evangelization. Of course this would very likely end our temporary, opportunistic alliance.

  3. ” Perhaps, but if so that’s only a matter of my own soul.”

    Not when you publish it in a public forum so as to promote it within “the marketplace of ideas.” Instead of keeping it to yourself, you let it out in the open where others might succumb to it, thanks to your own rhetoric. Public orthodoxies can survive private heresies *provided they stay private,* which ceased to be the case here when you posted your proposal. (I’m using “heresy” in an extended sense here, as in “heresy against traditional Catholic, Western theo/sociopolitical theorizing.)

  4. In other words, Islam is bad, but liberalism is worse? True as that may be, I can’t agree that their relative degrees of “badness” allow for an alliance of any sort – unless it were *immediately* necessary for both parties (Catholic and Muslim) to work against the common enemy of liberalism (religion – in it’s broad blanket sense- v. irreligion) – and I have a hard time positing a scenario in which the religions, rather than the people who hold them, would be allied for that purpose.

    Considering that I highly doubt Islam views Catholicism as a viable ally against the liberal west, it seems pointless to me to even facilitate said alliance in the first place, immediately or not. What purpose does it serve to eliminate one evil which wants to kill us off for another evil that wants to kill us off? It’s a religious “hate” triangle (irreligion is a religion), and they aren’t going to “play by the rules.”

    In a certain sense I am reminded of the N.O. idea that there are “Catholic elements” in other religions, giving them some sort of quasi-creditable Catholic status. Just because as conservatives we can agree with Islam on certain things (patriarchy, for instance) doesn’t mean we can look upon their religion with any sort of approval, relative or otherwise.

    False religion and irreligion are different components of the same devil, and regardless of their means of temptation or their greater or lesser ability to affect society as a whole, they lead to the same hell. I would not facilitate relations with either one.

  5. Dear Bonald,

    Please continue rethinking your Christian-Moslem alliance.

    First, I think it is the product of despair. You see no force within the West that can slow, let alone defeat, liberalism, and you therefore see only two long-term possibilities: the establishment of a new Soviet Union encompassing all of the West, or Moslem domination. Under a new Soviet Union, all dissent, even of thought, will be strictly and effectively eliminated, and the West will be Sodom and Gomorrah writ large. But under Moslem domination at least fathers will be the heads of their families, sodomy will be publicly recognized as sinful, smut will be driven underground, etc. Therefore you entertain the thought of an alliance with Islam.

    But in your Catholic tradition, despair is a mortal sin. We can see one reason why here: it drives men to do irrational and destructive things, such as ally themselves with their enemies.

    Instead, you should take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign, and that liberalism cannot establish a lasting society. If, God forbid, Islam were to take control of Western civilization then the West would be gone permanently. Once Islam takes over a nation, only an outside force can release it from captivity. But liberalism can only wreck a society, not control it permanently. If the diabolical liberals succeed in gaining total control, they will wreck the social order, but they will leave behind a remnant that can reestablish civilization.

    Second, consider the last sentence of your post: “ We must be sure that my grand anti-liberal alliance doesn’t end up sneaking in liberal ‘tolerance’ through the back door.”

    Indeed. To cooperate with the Moslems we must become either liberals (suppressing our natural abhorrence of false religion) or Moslems. What kind of alliance would that be?

    No, we must remain Christians and Westerners. The Moslems may occasionally be useful to our side but they are still our enemies to the extent that they are faithful to the entirety of Islam. Our primary job right now is to preserve as much as we can of the traditional ways of our people. And our secondary job is to awaken our people to the danger we face and the stance we must take.

  6. I have come late to this discussion, but I would counsel against making the assumption that Muslims, particularly Muslims in the West, can be counted on to be patriarchal pro-counter-revolutionaries (to coin a term).

    Even outside of secular and semi-lapsed Muslims (and there are many, many of those – the evidence is that most Muslims here in the UK aren’t regular mosque-goers, for example), there are serious efforts to build a Western-friendly version of Islam, much like the Enlightenment-compatible Confucianism that you have written about.

    Names that come to mind in the UK context include Ed Husain, Maajid Nawaz, Tim Winter, Ziauddin Sardar, Abdullah Trevathan, the Sufi Muslim Council and the Quilliam Foundation. Even a rather hardcore organisation like the East London Mosque (which I live close to) has to pretend in public to be modern and moderate (have a look on Google for the glossy brochures etc it puts out if you’re interested).

    This is facilitated by the specific fact that British Muslims tend to come from the relatively moderate, apolitical Barelvi sect (which is big in India/Bangladesh), but this only goes to show that Muslims aren’t a monolithic group.

  7. […] As a final example, observe that some Western conservatives are willing to consider making an alliance with socially conservative Moslems against the leftist menace. A high-profile example is Dinesh D’Souza, whose 2007 book The Enemy At Home: the Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 portrays non-radical Moslems as (conservative) America’s natural allies against both the leftists and the jihadists.  Another example is the blogger who goes by the pseudonym Bonald, who sees Moslems as worshipping (albeit inaccurately) the same God Christians worship, and who has stated the desirability of Western conservatives making some sort of alliance with Islam against liberalism. (To be fair, we must note that Bonald has expressed second thoughts.) […]

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