Our leaders' response to his Regensburg address showed they had not only lost their nerve, but also their ability to think
It is almost 15 years since New York was struck by the terrorist gang led by Osama bin Laden. New York was the first city to be attacked in this way, and 9/11 marked the beginning of the new age of terrorism.
We were assured by many that everything would be different from this point onwards, that 9/11 was “a wake-up call”, and that we would respond and our response would be effective.
But since then there have been numerous other attacks on our cities, and numerous other key dates such as 7/7. The roll-call is a dismal one: Madrid, Bali, London, Paris, Bangkok, Ankara, along with many, many others and now Brussels. And yet despite all this, we do not seem to have crafted an effective response. We have been attacked, time and again, but we have not yet worked out how to defend ourselves.
The ineptitude and stupidity of our governments is astonishing. I think this is self-evident: nothing they have done has worked. Indeed, the problem seems to be getting worse.
Our security agencies are doing a good job in preventing plots from coming to fruition, but they are our last line of defence, and they cannot stop every plot getting through. What is needed, and what no one seems to be able to provide, despite all the talk of “draining the swamp”, is some sort of strategy that prevents people plotting in the first place.
The reason for this, one suspects, is because governments do not want to confront the root cause of terrorism, which is not economic, or nationalistic, as in the past, but ideological. The ideology of Islamism has to be uprooted and extirpated, and this can only be done on the level of ideas.
At least 30 people murdered in Brussels (at the time of writing) were victims of an ideology that sees people as expendable and any talk of human rights akin to blasphemy – for how can human rights or any other rights have force if only the Koran is a source of law? Well, we have to challenge that view of the Koran.
Tony Blair told us he had the Koran as his bedside reading. I am not sure what point he was making. But one world leader did show true leadership and the way forward in confronting Islamism, and that was Benedict XVI with his Regensburg speech. The way he was treated for doing so was revelatory of the way the rest of our leaders had not only lost their nerve, but lost their ability to think. Regensburg is the only way. We need dialogue based on sound reasoning rather than wishful thinking.
In case you have forgotten, here are the key words of Benedict XVI uttered at Regensburg:
Spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God’, he says, ‘is not pleased by blood — and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…’
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. Editor Theodore Khoury observes: ‘For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.’
Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practice idolatry.
Indeed, the God of the Islamists does command irrationality and idolatry, and events in Brussels are the proof of this. This is what we have to confront, and it can only be done by challenging their religious beliefs and showing them to be false, and indeed anti-religious, in that they contradict the true nature of religion, for faith to be faith must always go hand and hand with reason.