Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
While recently discussing how President Obama’s relationship to Islam is undermining U.S. security, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly offered up some strange analogies:
Barack Obama has deep emotional ties to Islam. Now to some extent I can identify with Barack Obama on the religious issue. As a Roman Catholic I was appalled when the priest pedophilia scandal broke. There’s absolutely no excuse for the Catholic Church covering up many horrendous crimes…. However, like Barack Obama I do make the distinction between the faith and the people who abuse it. But here’s where I depart from the president. I went after the American Catholic leaders of the church with a vengeance…. President Obama should do what I did. Aggressively call out those who abuse the Muslim faith, who commit atrocities under a religious banner.
O’Reilly’s claim that “I do make the distinction between the faith and the people who abuse it” presumably means that he distinguishes between Catholicism—which does not promote the molestation of children—and those who “abuse” it for such ends.
Yet how exactly did pedophilic priests “abuse” the teachings of Catholicism? Is there some biblical scripture or church mandate that is ambiguously worded enough for them to twist in a way that justifies the molestation of boys, the way intolerant and violent Muslims are supposedly always “twisting” the Koran?
No. Such priests were not “abusing” their religion. They were directly violating it in both spirit and letter. That’s why they did it in secret and hiding, in the dark, and not “under a religious banner.” That’s why, unlike the jihadis, they were unable to write and issue lengthy treatises littered with scriptural references justifying their behavior. And that’s why O’Reilly—and many other Catholics—were rightly “appalled” and vociferously condemned it.
From O’Reilly’s false premise, the errors naturally morph and multiply: “President Obama should do what I did. Aggressively call out those who abuse the Muslim faith, who commit atrocities under a religious banner.”
Unlike the Catholic example—where there is no biblical or ecclesiastical reference that can be “abused” to support the priestly rape of boys—armed violent jihad is a clear mandate of Islam, one that manifests itself repeatedly and vociferously in both the history and doctrinal teachings of Islam.
According to the authoritative Encyclopaedia of Islam, which was published between 1913-1936—before the great age of political correctness set into the West—the “spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam … Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad [warfare to spread Islam] can be eliminated.”
Even the atrocities that groups like ISIS engage in—beheadings, crucifixions, church bombings, and sexual enslavements—are supported by the doctrines and historical practice of Islam. Indeed, even that one ISIS atrocity that the West is convinced has nothing to do with Islam—burning people alive—stretches all the way back to the example of prophet Muhammad and is taught in the curriculum of Egypt’s Al Azhar University, widely regarded as the most prestigious seat of Islamic learning around the world.
This is why, Mr. O’Reilly, most Muslims are not aggressively condemning ISIS, the way you condemned the pedophilic priests. Neither ISIS nor the pedophilic priests “abuse” their religion: Catholicism offers nothing that can be “abused” to justify the rape of children—hence why Catholics denounced the priests—while ISIS’ behavior falls squarely within the pale of Islam—hence why poll after poll shows widespread support for ISIS among Muslims.
In reality, and to use O’Reilly’s own words in describing his response to pedophilic priests, Muslims are indeed often “appalled,” and do “aggressively” chase down—“with a vengeance”—those who besmirch or contradict the teachings of Islam. When non-Muslims mock or “blaspheme” Muhammad, Muslims riot and kill all around the world (in Pakistan, a Christian man and his pregnant wife were slowly roasted alive by an irate mob on the accusation that they had insulted Muhammad last year). When non-Muslims try to build churches in Muslim majority lands, or merely meet in private homes to worship, Muslims riot and rage (recently in Egypt, burning 80 Christian homes).
But when groups like ISIS wage jihad in order to create a caliphate that enforces Sharia—a requirement of Islam—why expect Muslims to condemn it?
This is why people like Bill O’Reilly are forever taking one step forward followed by one step back. On the same segment he said, “The jihad is solely based on theology [correct], perverted as it may be [false].” As discussed here, such Western people apparently cannot accept that their values are historically singular—not universal—and that Islam has its own antithetical worldview.
Either that or they’re too scared of the ramifications of acknowledging that reality.