Lennonism, Leninism and ’Lahu Akbar
“…nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too…” – John Lennon, Imagine
Another prominent joining-point on the Marxism-Islam axis and its opposition to Zionism is secularism. Given the fact that Islam parades itself as a religion and aims to establish theocracy the whole world over, this point is nothing short of astounding. However, it becomes clear once the fog of terminology is lifted.
Imagine having lived in the 19th Century
“There is nothing new under the sun”, said King Solomon. A great number of anti-theistic arguments can be traced back to the first anti-theists, such as Epicurus, whose riddle on the impossibility of G-d being both omnipotent and omnibenevolent is still used today, over and over again. The heyday of intellectual atheism, however, was the 19th century, when it seemed science could give all the answers that religion could not, and more, that ridding the world of religion would rid the world of all (or nearly all) evil and end all (or nearly all) its wars.
That was the day of pamphleteers like A. D. White and R. G. Ingersoll, powerful in oratory and filling the need of a skeptical, religion-tired world. It was a world that could read about scores of religious wars in its history textbooks, and therefore conclude that religion was the blight of humanity and its eradication salvation.
Modern-day secularists repeat the arguments of the 19th-century pamphleteers, often in a new dressing, but whatever is new is only variations on the old arguments. This can be excused, as I showed by quoting our wise king of old, but the idea that the removal of religion could minimize wars to a negligibility cannot be excused—not of those who have lived to see the 20th century or read about it in history textbooks.
Neither World War I nor World War II were caused by religion, if religion is meant in the sense of that which was behind the Thirty Years Wars (1618–48). Nor the Cold War. This coming war looks like being of a religion (Islam) against the secular West, or even of one religion (Islam) against another (Christianity), but—and here the attitudes of right-wingers and left-wingers are curiously reversed—truth is more complex than that.
“Religion” No Longer a Useful Term
Press a secularist to the question of wars and massacres and genocides done in the name of non-religious, or outright atheistic, ideologies like Nazism and Communism, and one of the responses you will get will be on the lines of, “Communism isn’t thought of as a religion, but it shares many of its vices”. Or even a reply of, “Communism is Religion”, as plain as that. Sam Harris in his The End of Faith, ranting about the vices of faith and religion and its being the source of all darkness, anticipated the charge of non-religious darkness, and countered it by… you guessed it, grouping Nazism and Communism together with faith-based darknesses like Christianity and Islam.
The first reaction may be to gloat on the scene of secularists painting themselves into a corner. Beyond that, however, I think the issue is very useful in revealing to us the problematic nature of the old “religion vs. secularism” dichotomy. When you have to explain the evils of communism by saying communism is a religion, or the good behavior of all but a few Christians by saying they are imbued with the spirit of secularism, it is a sign something in wrong with your terminology. If you have to fudge your terminology to the point of uselessness, only because it keeps your theory intact, then you had better take a fresh look at your theory.
Secularist anti-Zionism and pro-Islamism
Now that the pieces have been set in their places, let us look the secularist-Islamist nexus for a few strange facts:
First, secularists (most, not all, to be sure) oppose Zionism (and evangelical Christianity) on anti-religious grounds, but do not oppose the Islamic enemies of Israel (and the USA) on the same grounds.
Second, secularists (like the ACLU) oppose “Jewish fundamentalism” in Israel and “Christian fundamentalism” in the USA, citing the danger to the world if those should take hold of their states, but give Islam a free pass, or at most a nod of acknowledgment of the existence of a tiny minority of “Islamic radicalists”, despite the explicit scriptural command for the institution of Islamic rule not just over one state, but over the whole world.
Third, environmentalists (could be believing New Agers rather than atheists; the common point is deification of nature) howl constantly at “Biblically-mandated Judeo-Christian destruction of the Earth, and high birthrates”, but do not sound a peep at Koranically-mandated Islamic actions of the same sort.
Fourth, feminists decry the Bible as “a handbook for the subjugation of women”, while turning a blind eye to the plight of women in states ruled by Islamic law.
Fifth, secularists oppose the one state in the Middle East where a true democracy exists, calling it oppressive, though it is surrounded by states whose human rights record is not exactly stellar.
Those are the facts. How do we explain them? How do we account for such secularist hypocrisy, involving the selling out of each and every tenet for which secularism has always claimed to stand? Here is my proposal:
Falsification, Fudging and re-Flection of Blame
The first cause is adroit falsification on the Islamic enemy’s part. The very creation of the “Palestinian” people (their being settled in refugee camps in the Arab states after 1949, instead of allowing them to melt into the local population) was for the purpose of framing this struggle, this jihad, as a territorial dispute. Framed thus, it appealed to the secularists’ rationalism, the mindset that every problem could be solved by talks, negotiations, concessions and material offerings. Later, the Muslims went even further in astuteness by framing “Israeli intransigence” as being the result of the Zionists’ religion-based opposition to all land concessions. Framed thus, it is the religious Zionists fighting against secular (desiring a land to live on, nothing more) Palestinians. For the secularist, the decision which of the two to support is a no-brainer.
The second cause, which comes into play whenever secularists are finally confronted with the inconvenient, nagging question of Islamic (indisputably religious) actions, is fudging to support the previous narrative of war between religious Zionists (and American Christian fundamentalist theocratic neo-cons…) and secular Palestinians (and other Arabs wanting nothing more than a plot of land to live a Lennonian life on). They cannot deny the reality of the death vests and mosque preachings, but they will always say the “Palestinians” were driven to that path by the actions, the intransigence, the oppression of the religious imperialists on the other side. They will call it “Islamic radicalism” rather than Islam, implying a perversion of a harmless, noble religion. Like learned, sophisticated Juan Cole telling us how Ahmadinejad’s words about “wiping Israel off the map” (G-d forbid) are to be taken as a figure of speech, as Oriental hyperbole (I’m sure Edward Said would approve of that expression), secularists construe Islamic terrorism as an aberration caused by a feeling of being under siege. This joins hands with historical revisionism in ignoring the military impetus of Islam ever since its inception in the 7th century.
Finally, working hand in glove with fudging, is the reflection of blame, as by a mirror, from the Islamic perpetrators onto their non-Muslim victims (inverting the roles of perpetrator and victim in the process). Following any pointing out of Islamic oppression and imperialism to a secularist, the immediate reaction is usually, “And Judaism and Christianity are any better? Did you ever take a peek at the Bible?” From there on, all secularist responses to Islamic aggression and injustice hinge upon tu quoque, and not merely that, but tu quoque first. The Crusades, the founding of the state of Israel, the American invasion of Iraq were all initiatives of aggression, to which the Battle of Hattin, the Ottoman siege of Vienna, the Intifadas and 9/11 were responses, therefore justified (so much for Gandhi’s “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”). Muslim rage merits as explanation only the fact of Western, Judeo-Christian exploitation, colonialism and capitalist globalization.
Tying all this to secularism is a psychological term called the need for effective control, which is humankind’s search for insurance policies against things that seem to be beyond their reach. For religionists, that is the deity or deities and worship of him, her or them. For secularists, that is the making of all humans in their image, the secularist image: rationalistic, desiring of living for the day as in Lennon’s song, and having the pragmatism to accept a gift and crave no more. As surely as a born atheist stares wide-eyed at the fact of so many other people believing in G-d ruling the world, in the supernatural, a political secularist is dumbfounded by the fact of a whole group of people, not just a few leaders, desiring everything, everything, pragmatic only temporarily for gaining the resources for achieving their ultimate goal, which is directed by megalomania.
The first reaction is, understandably, denial. Then, when the facts can no longer be denied, there is a critical juncture of bargaining with the situation. Most secularists assuage the shock by retreating to the effective control strategy of reflection of blame, saying it was not that way in the past, and is that way now only because of our misdeeds. If it is our misdeeds, then we are in control, in that we can remove the reasons for the enemy to hate us. We can give away the Sudetenland. We can grant separate beaches for Muslims and Muslim-only days at fun parks. We can dismantle the Zionist Project (G-d forbid). All for making them stop hating us.
That there could be something as “natural hatred”, someone as a “natural enemy”, hatred just because, enemies just because, is a reality that was clearly in the eyes of the historians of Ancient Greece (which secularists claim to lean upon, in opposition to the “darkness of Judeo-Christianity”), but now in our modern, modern times, the very thought of it is anathema.
If the coming war is destined to be between [Judeo-]Christian civilization and Islam, it is because most of the secularists did not wake up in time, preferring instead to sell their oft-claimed birthright of love of liberty for the lentil stew of fashionable anti-colonialism, blinded by a rationalism that makes them a hammer seeing everything as a nail. They could open their eyes and realize that the enmity is existential, that the fruit of “Palestinian resistance” is not a festival where people dance naked in the woods, and that just as Communism does not teach about the whole of atheism, Islam does not teach about the whole of religion, so that the equivalence they make between the Islamic world and the Christian USA is misguided at best, and counterproductive, in the sense of providing aid and comfort to those who wish to bring us all into a mode of life that would make medieval Christian Europe look like a picnic, at worst. Failing that, the fight for the side of life and liberty will have to be waged by the only ones in the West who are wakeful to the truth.