“We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people.”
“I believe our people [Islamic believers] are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings.”
“The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling.”
These are not the words of an advocate for the United States government, or the government of Israel. These are the wise words of Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American psychiatrist who lives near Los Angeles, CA.
I rank these among the most intellectually honest, inspiring and brave statements to be uttered since the Western war against terrorism began. Dr. Sultan has introduced reason and objectivity into the most charged conflict of our—or perhaps any other—time.
She speaks the truth. This is not an issue of race or politics; it’s an issue of philosophy, psychology and free will.
Dr. Sultan clearly implies that human beings have choices. As a group, Jewish people, in the context of their prior persecution under Nazi Germany and elsewhere, have made far better and far more rational choices than we see the bulk of Islamic people making today. No honest person could deny it. Would you, as a rational person, rather be living in secular, democratic Israel—or the savage, underdeveloped, barren, and dangerous region where Islam predominates?
The title of Dr. Sultan’s book on the subject is: A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam. I wonder if Dr. Sultan understands that it’s the nature of religion—all religion, not just Islam—to create in the human mind a condemnation of reason and an indulgence of whim (rationalized as “faith”) that must, sooner or later, sacrifice the former to the latter.
This is too much to expect from anyone at this point in history, but her willingness to speak the truth about the root cause of terrorism, especially in today’s context, requires a stronger term than the word “heroism.”
According to a New York Times story on this courageous psychiatrist, “Dr. Sultan said [in an Al Jazeera television interview back in 2006] the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.”
She’s exactly right. Islam must lose its battle, no matter how hapless our political leaders prove to be in fighting it. Even if the worst happens, and if the forces of Islam, fighting through the terrorist tactics and growing military power of ISIS, were to all-out destroy the United States (taking Western civilization with it), this “victory” would leave the conquerors with…what, exactly? A religious believer may scream all he wants about the “victory of Allah,” but at the end of the day, since Allah is nothing more than the figment of a believer’s imagination, what you’re really left with is an intellectual, moral and psychological wasteland—kind of like the World Trade Center on the morning of September 12, 2001, but on a worldwide scale. Needless to say, this isn’t victory; it’s merely nihilism and destruction for its own sake. It’s suicide and homicide for all. This is all that Islam can ever hope to achieve.
If Islam were to tame itself and bend towards some kind of a “middle ground” between faith and secularism, as Christianity and Judaism did in centuries past, this would be no thanks to the virtues of Islam. It would solely be due to the benefits of secularism, science, and the things most of us take for granted in the Western world today.
Dr. Sultan questions the religious teachings that prompt young people to commit suicide in the name of God. “Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up?” she asks. “In our countries, religion is the sole source of education and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched.”
Although I’m not sure if Dr. Sultan is among them, conscientious religious people of numerous faiths attempt to reconcile a contradiction that, I would argue, cannot be reconciled. The faulty premise is that religion should lead to reason, rationality, education and benevolence—not violence. While it’s quite true that there are many religious people who are educated, benevolent and peaceful (including, I expect, some enlightened Muslims), it’s not in the nature of religious faith to inspire these virtues. It’s a commitment to reason, rationality and life on earth for its own sake, as opposed to life on earth for the sake of an “afterlife,” that leads people to become life-loving. You do not need religion for this commitment to reason, and in fact religion — with its emphasis on faith — can even get in the way, if we’re honest about it.
Whether or not Dr. Sultan has corrected this faulty premise, she is quoted as making what may be one of the most profoundly true and important statements of our era, especially considering today’s context: “The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.”
With respect to the continuing world and political crisis, consisting of beheadings and who knows what else yet to come, this statement proves unequivocally that Dr. Sultan completely “gets it.” She recognizes that the Islamic religious/political ideology is completely incompatible with Western values that the rest of us largely take for granted.
Dr. Sultan’s attitude is completely at odds with America’s hopeless policy of “bringing” democracy and Western values to a part of the world whose core viewpoints are completely opposite of those that created today’s Western institutions. In short, you can’t live consistently by faith and expect to have a free and civilized society. It’s possible that Dr. Sultan (and others who try to reconcile faith and reason) would reply that you can’t live by faith the way today’s Muslims practice it and expect to have a free and civilized society. But, they might add, reason and faith can be reconciled.
The amazing thing is that even this statement—a mixture of truth and error—will not be advanced by any of our leaders today. Religion is on the rise and reason is in decline, despite the fact that reason brought more safety and comfort to the Western world than there ever was in the Middle Ages. Dr. Sultan can address some of this, at great risk, I’m sure, to her personal safety (case in point proving how right she is), but no American President could ever say it without immediate impeachment proceedings (and the current American President would not wish to say it, anyway.)
Yet there’s hope. I say this because of the most important part of Dr. Sultan’s statement: “[Today’s war between the West and Islam] is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.”
You can expect this to provoke the most rage, not only from terrorists, but also from American roll-over-and-play-dead leftists and “intellectuals.” This is because Dr. Sultan plainly states that there IS a superior way of living, and that superior way is rationality and civility. The advocates of terrorism are wrong and bad; the advocates of civilization, reason and secularism are good. Bottom line: there is an objectively right way to live, and Western civilization comes far closer to it than the barbaric Arabs who practice Islam will under their current system of values and beliefs.
Until more Americans understand and articulate this for themselves, as Dr. Sultan has already done for herself, we’re going to continue losing the war against terrorism. Once enough of us understand it, terrorism will go into decline very, very quickly. By the way, in the Times article, Dr. Sultan states that she no longer practices Islam. “I am a secular human being,” she said.
When the rest of the world goes the way of Dr. Sultan, there will be no more war or terrorism on the scale we see today. Sadly, that time is not yet here. But her brave words have given us all a badly needed taste of a future yet to come.
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