Jonathan Cole is right – this delusion must end:
Why is it so hard for the West to accept that the jihadist movement is fundamentally a religious movement? Jihadists are under no such illusion. They tell us at every breath that their struggle is about Islam…
There is no dispute that jihadists are political actors, have political goals and are having a profound political impact. But why do so many commentators appear to believe this means they also cannot possibly belong to a religious movement? Religious movements are perfectly capable of also being political actors, having political agendas and being of political consequence. Isn’t this precisely the experience of Western societies? Just think of the impact the Christian right continues to have in US politics…
The fact we are still debating whether Islamic theology has anything to do with a movement that has spawned something called the Islamic State shows just how far the West has to go. The West urgently must find a way to speak empirically, objectively and soberly about the global jihadist movement and its Islamic theology, free of the baggage of Western ideological battles that have nothing to do with the jihadist movement.
Here’s why we see this dumb denial, echoed by Muslim apologists in the West.
- To admit the Koran licences terrorism would be to admit that Islam is dangerous in Western societies and needs reform.
- To admit the Koran licences terrorism would be to admit that immigration policies must be changed to make Western societies safer.
- To admit the terrorists are motivated more by the Koran than by the sins of the West would be to deny the militant Left useful seconders to their own campaigns against our traditions and institutions.
- To admit that religion influences behavior, for good or evil, might let Christianity off the hook, given its obviously civilising influence.
- People here, many raised to despise organised religion and to have an outlandish admiration for their own ability to reason, simply do not understand that others genuinely like being adherents of a faith and are motivated to serve it. Indeed, it is precisely the West’s lack of faith that earns it not the admiration of its Islamist enemies but contempt.
And thus we have this dialogue of the deaf.