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More Hope

Reader comment on item: Islam's Future [Can Be Modern]

Submitted by Peter Newton (United States), Aug 13, 2002 at 11:13

It's very telling that Dr. Pipes uses the single, secular, democracy in the Muslim world to prove his point. Indeed, vast social change does not occur at the grass roots level. It starts at the top, and trickles down to the citizens (or subjects). Lest we forget that at one time slavery was widely accepted in our own country despite its intrinsic moral repugnance. This was only altered by a fundamental change of our legal system and government, and it has taken over a century for those changes to permeate society and win true freedom for all our people. I might add that those changes came at a price of human misery, death, and destruction on a monumental scale.

I echo Dr. Pipes' hope for the Islamic peoples of planet Earth, but I have no hope for their backwards, theocratic regimes. Social change is possible in Turkey because Turkey has a republican form of government. The minority has a voice, and can influence the government despite the will of the masses. Clearly, Turkey is a part of the civilized world not for the social practices and religion of its people, but because of their philosophy with regards to separated power, the rule of MAN'S law, the judicious use of force, and the belief in individual freedom. They are far from perfect, but who is?

There is nothing we can do to influence an ideology based on inwardness and hatred taught to children unless we address the apparatuses that are indoctrinating them. Those apparatuses are the Islamic governments that fund and control the Madras's ushering their children into Militant Islam. The Jihad factories must be shut down, and that is not going to happen with theocratic and dictatorial systems of totalitarian government being the rule in the Muslim world. Only a form of government that is living and dynamic can foment that kind of change in its people, and to date the only form of government that can do that is a representative democracy.

Religion by definition is a single truth that it's adherents follow, and it does not allow room for any other truths. When the power of government resides in a religion there is no room for dissent or debate. The answers are given before any questions are asked. This holds immense power for good in an individual, but immense tyranny when applied in a broad sense to a government. The separation of church and state is the only way that tolerance and peace can be achieved in a homogenous society. The separation of powers is our only weapon against natural human vice. Our founders figured out much more than a form of government when they designed the Articles of Confederation, and later the US Constitution. They figured out the human condition, and the safeguards needed to protect us from ourselves. No such safeguards exist in a totalitarian society.

Without abusing cliché (or maybe with abusing it), we can lead these governments to democracy, but we cannot force them believe in freedom. Forcing them to admit their failings is something they will have to do for themselves. I watch Iran with growing optimism and hope. The Iranians have been under the boot the longest, and they seem the most disposed to freedom and democracy. Those who lust for power are incapable of peacefully relinquishing it once it is in their grasp. There are some things that are worth more than human life. Freedom and individual liberty are first and foremost among these things. I pray that the people of Iran find the courage to stand up for freedom and fight their oppressors, because fight they must. As the Islamic revolution began in Iran, maybe the next revolution will be one of freedom and democracy that will again begin in the same place. I share Dr. Pipes' hope, but we have first hand knowledge of what a long and perilous journey the road to freedom can be.
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