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Food for Thought

Reader comment on item: The End of American Jewry's Golden Era

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), May 2, 2004 at 05:29

America's confrontation with militant Islamism, now many years in the making, seems to have grown like a Greek tragedy.

When I was much younger, and the responsible, peaceable Evangelical Christians of America were abandoning the New Deal coalition in Jimmy Carter's hour of need, the mainstream media in America labelled the crazies in Iran "fundamentalists"--and oh, didn't the militantly secularist leftists feel so, so good about making some tens of millions of their fellow citizens look "un-American".

But, later, after the Soviet Union collapsed, I met a devoutly Muslim Malaysian of the sort who hoped the Cold War coalition would hold together in the post-Cold War era, who said, "Since your country is against Fundamentalism, does it mean we are enemies because I pray five times daily, won't eat pork, etc....?" I remember that and cringe every time when what the State Department of ca. 1989 called "gentle, Monsoon Islam" goes on a rampage (southern Philippines, Southern Thailand, the religiously mixed parts of Indonesia).

It is also high time that the leftist pundits were told to shut up and go to the back of the class when they start up on how all traditionalisms are equally immoral. The Calvinists of the 16th and 17th century, for all their high theism, pioneered some signiifcant experiments in both the theory and practice of limited government, largely because they mistrusted human nature following the fall of Adam (debts no heir of the enlightenment will acknowledge). When the Jews immigrated and got the vote, they came from a culture that was reading four-fifths of the Calvinists' book (and, from the Scriptures commonly quoted in the political tracts of Theodore Beza, George Buchanan, John Knox, John Ponet, and Samuel Rutherford--the Jews may argue "They were reading OUR book!"). The fact that fundamentalist Christians and Jews share a lot of Scripture means that it will be possible to respectfully disagree and maintain neighborliness. Their is even ground for a wide political agreement, even when theological agreement is impossible.

The fact of the matter is that America's political, media, and academic elites can't speak respectfully to devout Christians in the Midwest; so don't expect them to be able to hold an intelligent, non-condescending conversation with devout Muslims in the Middle East.

Part of me honestly fears that it may just be that the presence of militant Islamism in our midst is a divine payback to a culture that pats itself on the back for cutting off the branch on which it sat and being so doltish it didn't realize the "gorwing pains" it experienced was simply the jolt of hitting the ground. Unlike Jefferson, I do not see the words "I fear for my country when I ponder that God is just" as mere rhetoric.
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