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Islam and Democracy

Reader comment on item: Analyzing the Turmoil [in Egypt]

Submitted by Edward Cline (United States), Feb 14, 2011 at 08:29

I appreciate Mr. Pipes' assessment of Egypt and the "regime change" there, and certainly respect his appraisal of Islam and the Mideast, but I shudder every time I encounter and otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable person employ the term "democracy" so carelessly. It is as though Mr. Pipes (and many, many others) had never read what the American Founders and Framers had to say about "democracy." They feared and loathed democracy. Democracy, they saw in history, was always an overture to tyranny of one kind or another. Democracy was and remains mob rule. Their purpose was to establish an individual rights-protecting republic, one that was proof against the whims and fashions of mobs, majorities, and power-seeking politicians. Democracy is, for example, a state government banning smoking in private restaurants and bars, because some group with political pull wanted it that way; or Obama patronizing millions of people who want lower health-care costs and endorsing socialized medicine legislation; or state or municipal governments banning plastic (or paper) bags in supermarkets to curry favor with environmentalists. The instances of "democracy" in action are numerous, and they all depend on the employment of government force and the diminishment of individual rights.

Mr. Pipes makes a distinction between Islam and Islamism. But what is Islamism but taking Islam's most belligerent tenets seriously and acting on them? Islam is a totalitarian ideology, pure and simple. This is aside from its primitive, tribalist character. Islam is already a form of "democracy"; the majority of Muslims want it, and to conform to Sharia law, to worship Allah, honor Mohammad, etc. What could be more democratic than that? But most Muslims, like most Christians (and Jews), develop a kind of schizoid ethics when it comes to practicing the creed. They, too, compartmentalize the "truths" to be found in the scriptures and keep them segregated from what is required in everyday life. Christians, if they attempted to live according to the morality of selflessness and self-sacrifice, which are central tenets of their creed, would be deceased from suicide in a matter of weeks. Muslims, if they attempted to practice literally the central tenets of their creed, would become rampaging hordes and card-carrying Islamo-Nazis.

As you can see, I cut neither Christianity nor Islam any moral slack. If the morality is no good for living on earth, if others' well-being and happiness have priority over one's own (or obeying God's or Allah's will), if there is no "practical" application of and end to it except suicide and/or homicide, what good is it and why subscribe to it? Both creeds are antithetical and hostile to reason. Both deny or act to counter man's nature as a being of volitional consciousness, who must choose his purpose for living and act to achieve those goals in pursuit of his own happiness. Democracy, Christianity, and Islam are all in fundamental opposition to that fact. So I am less sanguine than is Mr. Pipes about Egypt's fate over the next year, or about the fate of any Mideast country. There are millions of Arabs who are also practicing (and perhaps even devout) Muslims who haven't a clue to what individual rights are, or if they are read enough in the subject, would be hostile to them because they'd see that individual rights trump any morality founded on mysticism. Democracy is just another form of mysticism. The "people" will it. Well, so did the Germans, and the Japanese.

The United States itself has slid downward to becoming a democracy. Obama's administration is an overture to tyranny.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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