A Religion of Peace? Only With Careful Editing

I’m a fan of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies — an organization I was predisposed to love as soon as I heard their name. Their weekly FDD Update newsletter provides an extremely comprehensive review of  each week’s developments in the defining struggle of our age — the war against Islamic fascism.

fdd-logoThere’s a large overlap in commentators between FDD and National Review Online, my favorite website, so I often have already seen some of the items that FDD President Clifford May highlights in the newsletter.  But when this week’s edition arrived today, I saw that I had missed a forceful critique of Obama’s Cairo speech by former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.  Some of McCarthy’s NRO colleagues had offered muted praise for the speech, as did I, but McCarthy was having none of it, and made some strong points.  For example:

The president, moreover, insisted on pulling from the Muslim apologists’ playbook the expurgation of Islamic scripture in order to render it congenial to Western sensibilities. We were treated to the hidebound claim that terrorist violence is anti-Islamic because what Obama takes pains to call “the Holy Koran” teaches that “whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” This conveniently decoupled Sura 5:32 from the next verse (5:33), which, though unmentioned by Obama, is well known by Muslims to read: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land, is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter.”

There are, of course, offensive passages in the Bible as well.  But while Christians and Jews have largely evolved beyond the barbarities of their early scriptures, too many Muslims show little sign of doing so.  It would not have been appropriate for Obama to launch a verbal crusade in a speech on Arab soil, but he also should not enable pathology by pretending it does not exist.  As McCarthy says:

[T]here is an enormous amount of reform to be done — work that can only be done by Muslims. We cannot rouse them to the task by telling them we think Islam, as it currently exists, is promoting peace.