BOOK REVIEW: By David M. Kinchen–Huntington News Network Book Critic
Lately, we’ve been inundated with books by authors such as Chris Hedges, Kevin Phillips, Damon Linker, Michelle Goldberg, Sam Harris. and Christopher Hitchens, among many others, attacking organized religion–more often than not, Christianity in all its varieties. Only Hitchens in his “God Is Not Great” dares attack Islam with the same vehemence.
Apologists for Islam, like Karen Armstrong and lately and surprisingly Dinesh D’Souza, argue that Islam is really a religion of peace that has been hijacked by fundamentalists, much the same as Christianity and Judaism have been hijacked by fundamentalists.
This isn’t the position of Robert Spencer in his new book “Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t” (Regnery, 264 pages, index, notes, $27.95). Spencer has to live in a “secure undisclosed location”–unlike the authors he names on the first page of his book (including those listed above)–because he fears for his life from a purported religion of peace, Islam. This certainly isn’t the case with authors who’ve attacked Christianity or Judaism.
Spencer is adamant in describing Islam as a religion that hasn’t gone through the reformations of the other two monotheistic faiths–Judaism and Christianity–and still relies on the Quran and the hadiths laid down by its founder Muhammad in the Seventh Century. Barbaric practices like female circumcision and “honor” killings, as well as polygamy and slavery are still practiced in many Islamic countries, Spencer writes.
Spencer displutes with the the liberal and multicultural pundits who tell us that Christianity is bent on destroying our Constitution, stripping us of our liberties, and imposing and imposing religious rule on the United States. Spencer argues that such a religious is really Islam.
Regarding Islam, Spencer says the left is silent, except to say that Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by fundamentalists, that the terrorists today are nothing compared to the brutality of the Crusades of 1,000 years ago and the Inquisition of 500 years ago, perpetrated by organized Christianity.
Spencer says it’s ridiculous to state that conservative Christians are more of a threat to free societies than Islamic jihadists. He’s adamant in his view that there really is a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam and that anyone denying this is living in a fool’s paradise.
Spencer cites verses from both the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) and the Quran to compare and contrast the Judeo-Christian culture and that of Islam. Among these are:
* The fundamental differences between Islamic and Christian teachings about warfare against other religions: ”Love your enemies” vs. ”Be ruthless to the unbelievers.” Death to apostates is still operative in Islam, even when it isn’t carried out, Spencer notes. Christians and Jews who switch religions aren’t in fear of their lives.
* Why the Islamic world has never developed the distinction between religious and secular law that is inherent in Christianity. It was a long and winding road to this position, with many abuses by organized Christianity, but Western civilization is better off with separation of church and state, Spencer writes, contrasting this with an Islam that views itself as perfect and complete, not requiring any separation of “Mosque and State.”
* Why Christianity has always embraced reason–and Islam has always rejected it.
* Why the most determined enemies of Western civilization may not be the jihadists at all, but the leftists who fear their churchgoing neighbors more than Islamic terrorists
* Why Jews, Christians, and peoples of other faiths (or no faith) are equally at risk from militant Islam.
Spencer writes of murders of Christians and the burning of 1,000 Christian churches in the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, a nation whose apologists claim tolerates Christianity. He also cites many examples of persecution of Christians throughout the Islamic world, from Iraq to Gaza to the West Bank. I’ve personally met many of these refugees in my trips to Chicago, a Mecca (if I can say that word!) for Christians fleeing Muslim persecution in their native lands.
Spencer isn’t trying proselytize, and to convert Muslims into Christians, but he never wavers from his view that Christianity is a true ”religion of peace,” and on it Western civilization stands. He argues that if we are not to perish under Islam’s religion of the sword–with its more than 100 million active jihadists seeking to impose sharia law–we had better defend our own civilization.
His book won’t satisfy atheists like Hitchens, who believe all religions are equally bad, or Hedges, author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America,” who thinks the biggest danger to America comes from believing Christians.
Nor will it be appreciated by many leftists who think Christianity and Judaism are greater threats to the world than militant Islam.
But I have a gut feeling that most people–including many moderate Muslims afraid to speak out–will agree with Spencer’s arguments. Moderate Muslims, along with Christians from Muslim countries, are voting with their feet and immigrating to the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Unfortunately, multiculturalists in these countries, Spencer notes, are beginning to cave in to the demands of militant Islamists on such vital matters as sharia law. The self-hatred of Western Civilization extends, he notes, even to feminists who would be severely restricted in Islamic nations.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers “The Truth about Muhammad” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” (reviewed on this site a few months ago) as well as four other books on Islam and terrorism, including “Islam Unveiled” and “Onward Muslim Soldiers.”