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February 16, 2015

Horse Sense

It is said that George Washington was the greatest horseman of his age. He led his country atop a horse, and, though his coat was pierced, he never suffered a scratch in battle. A good horse knows its own path and requires only steady, competent, light reins.

At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama advised Christians that they should get off their “high horse” when it comes to criticizing Islam. This advice came in the wake of the cage-torching of a man and of United Nations and Amnesty International reports detailing the systematic rape, torture, and killing of children by the forces of the Islamic State.

Invoking the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, and Jim Crow, the President reminded Christians of past violence perpetrated in the name of Jesus. His understanding of history and Jesus was swiftly and widely panned by historians and theologians.

Prior to the Reformation, church and state were mixed in the Christian world. Popes had armies. Not until the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and even the Civil Rights Movement did the inherent value of the individual and the separation of church and state fully crystallize the phrases “love thy neighbor…” and “render unto Caesar…”

“State” is not synonymous with government. It is the arrangement in which some men live as the vassals of others through force, and its methods are conquest, subjugation, confiscation, and redistribution. The state takes when it knows it can get away with it. Wealth and power then gravitate into the hands of the few. In Putin’s Russia and Iran, it is obvious; with bank bailouts, it is subtle.

That the three great desert religions expanded and coalesced at the point of a sword is well-documented, Islam in particular. Like Judaism before its reform movements, fundamental Islam is based on obedience and submission. Sharia is a system of law and order, some of it violent, and some Islamic madrassas emphasize chanting and memorization rather than critical thinking.

A modern religion should be based on the persuasion of its truth, and measured by its ability to bring comfort to the human condition. It should not flourish through coercion, threats, and violence, the tools of the state.

The atonement for white sin is a fetish of the American Left. That atonement is now rooted in law- affirmative action, preferential contracting, and “disparate impact.” Another manifestation is multiculturalism, the idea that all cultures are inherently equal. Certainly, all human beings deserve good will and respect, but to invoke cultural equivalency between the Swiss and a jungle tribe subsisting on bugs and raw turtles is silly. Prime Minister David Cameron has pronounced multiculturalism in Britain a failure.

Sharia law is incompatible with Western law, and on this point feminists have been conspicuously silent. In a recent Herald Leader article about the construction of a mosque in Lexington, Kentucky, a local Muslim leader stated that the Quran sanctions beating women with sticks. In a later column, Catherine Orsborn defended Lexington’s mosque project, as if good, law-abiding people need defending, without mentioning sticks. Here in black and white is seen the collision of multiculturalism, feminism, and fundamental Islam. It seems the only thing that holds them together is a contempt for white men.

This nation clearly has no foreign policy in the Middle East other than whack-a-mole bombing. It is also clear that the Muslim world must decide whether it will read its book literally or read it contextually. That decision will determine whether it will plunge into the abyss, perhaps taking us with it, or undergo a long-needed Reformation towards the separation of mosque and state. Muslims will have to make their own decisions, but it should be America’s foreign policy to stand up for Western values, to protect ourselves, and to nurture the forces of reform, mostly with ideas and encouragement, not bombs.

President Obama remains on his high horse. He certainly knows how to use a saddle. Sadly, he is busy with his pen and his phone; there are no hands left for the reins.

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