letter to the editor

In clash of civilizations, do we stand to be defeated?



In The Visitor of March 29, [a] reporter cites a talk, "Find common ground with Muslims" by my friend Terry Allen, with whom I worked on several charitable projects. I would like to take issue with this "can't-we-all-just-get-along" piece.

Islam represents, in addition to a religion, a political and legal system the highest goal of which is a theocratic state. The legal system, Shari's law, is particularly cruel and discriminates against women. Could we in the West condone the amputation of a thief's hands or the gang rape of a woman in retribution for an adulterous affair by a male member of her family?

[A recent newspaper photo depicted] a young woman being beaten in front of a mosque merely for speaking to an unmarried man after a certain hour. No indication what the man's punishment was, of course.

Muslims, like Jews and Christians, believe in a monotheistic God. However, when a Muslim says, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet," he means he rejects the concept of the Blessed Trinity (which is central to Christianity) and that Jesus was not the Son of God but a mere prophet. He means Muhammed got the final Word directly from God through the angel Gabriel, and that the Koran has not been distorted as has the Bible. He means he rejects most particularly the calendar of saints.

I have read and heard spokesmen for Islam say theirs is a peaceful religion and that only ten percent of Muslims are fundamentalists. That means there are between 120- and 180-million fanatics (180,000 to 200,000 already here in the United States) who want to kill us infidels for who we are, where we live, how we live and what we believe in. What's more, they believe that Allah will give them a special place in paradise if they die while killing us.

Keep in mind that Osama bin Laden has found a Muslim imam who has blessed (issued a fatwa) the killing of up to ten million Americans in pursuit of a "holy" war (jihad) against the United States. Can you imagine the outcry if a bishop issued a similar order against Iraqis, Iranians or any other Muslim nation?

Islam is an intolerant religion. A Christian cannot bring a Bible, rosary or crucifix into many Muslim countries. Muslims who are detained by our military or police are provided with a Koran and ethnically-sensitive meals. They are allowed to pray and are provided imams to lead them.

Islam is a violent religion. In his book New Glory, strategic thinker and former military intelligence officer Ralph Peters writes, "Christ responded to violence with a rejection of violence, to suffering with a readiness to suffer...Islam exploded out of the Arabian desert with such fury that it toppled empires, always through warfare. And the Prophet was no sooner dead than factional strife led to savage battles among the faithful, provoking the Shia succession."

Mr. Allen posits that there are many similarities between Islam and Christianity. I believe his talk misses the point that we particularly in the United States are at war with fundamental, apocalyptic Islamic terrorism. Mr. Peters again: "For today's apocalptic terrorists the existing system is evil. It cannot be reformed. It must be destroyed to make way for Allah's design. No promises to infidels need to be honored. The god-haunted terrorists... wish to shed our blood to fortify their faith, impose their beliefs on a sinful world, to placate a vengeful deity... Far from representing the vision of Muhammed (whose incantations they observe selectively), the apocalyptic terrorists we face have revived the gods of the ancient Middle East."

We are in a clash of civilizations. Indeed, it is a fight to the death, and until we accept that fact, we and Christianity will be defeated.

Richard J. August

North Kingstown

(Ed. note: One of the writer's sons, a graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School, was killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom in January, 2004.)

(This letter originally appeared in The Providence Visitor)