John Mark Reynolds [author, academic]

theOneRepublic, CA
Sept 28 2006

This story is why elaborately constructed reasons that Pope Benedict
XVI was wrong in the most recent flap with radical Islam are wrong.

Radical Islam wants no criticism of its major figures or of its
truth claims.

I do not believe that we should gratuitously insult persons others
revere. There is no place in a multi-cultural society at war for
thoughtless offense.

Contributor John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey
Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy,
at Biola University. His personal website can be found
at www.johnmarkreynolds.com and his blog can be found at

Christians live in a public square where they are happy to defend
the freedom of atheists to state their views about the divinity of
Christ. The free and open society built mostly by Christians over the
last two hundred years demands this. We respect those who disagree
enough to engage in polite and reasoned discourse.

But we will not give up our right to make reasonable, but tough
arguments against ideas we think are bad.

As usual the story is in plain type below and my comments are in

Censor comments on Islam to avoid violence: Muslim expert 20th
September 2006, 11:00 WST

As the Byzantines discovered, even becoming the servants of the
Islamic invaders did not appease radical Moslem aggression. Not all
Moslems were radical in history, but many that were not were killed
by Moslems who were.

Did the victims of 9/11 say offensive things? Did they deserve to
die for anything they had said?

Non-Muslims should practise self-censorship to avoid triggering
violent reactions, a prominent Perth Muslim says.

Why? If we do, then Muslims will have removed themselves from
the civilized nations of the world. No person should trigger a
violent reaction when he or she speaks at an academic conference on
controversial items.

The civilized world cannot practice science or any form of academic
discourse in such an environment. Just as Christians and non-Christians
can criticize the origins of the New Testament, so we must all have
the right to do textual criticism (for good or bad) of the Koran. Just
as Christian history and ethics come under (sometimes) withering fire
from academics, some even employed in Christian colleges, so Islamic
scholars must allow the same sort of free and reasoned look at their
own history and ethics to be part of the free world.

In the wake of violent attacks over a speech by Pope Benedict XVI
that linked the Prophet Mohammed's teachings to violence, Perth
academic Samina Yasmeen said religious and community leaders should
stop speaking about Islamic icons to avoid causing offence.

No. We will never give up the right to follow the truth where it leads
us. That is the heritage of Socrates and Plato that is precious to
us and has brought such great advances to the world.

No Christian, indeed no gentleman, would condone giving needless
offense, but we will not stop saying what we believe the truth to be.

Associate Professor Yasmeen, director of the University of WA's centre
for Muslim states and societies, accused the Pope of deliberately
provoking the aggression by inviting criticism of Mohammed.

The Holy Father did not invite criticism of Mohammed, but even if he
had that is the right of a free person living in a free society. The
Pope needless to say thinks that Islam has false beliefs. Moslem
followers have a right to those beliefs and there is much to admire
in the Islamic resistance to secularist decadence in the modern world.

But better a bit of Vegas than a society where free men cannot freely
say in a calm and rational way what they think the truth to be.

She said the Pope and other religious leaders had the same
responsibility as Islamic clerics to avoid encouraging violence
by followers.

What violence by the Pope's followers? I deplore violence against
innocent Moslems but I know of no Christian provoked to violence by
the Pope's speech.

Just as it is unjust to blame the victim in a crime ("She was asking
for it, coming into this neighborhood."), so it is unjust to blame
the Pope for wickedness caused by others based on a reasonable speech.

Stalin was not provoked to murder by the writings of the dissidents.

Islamic extremists need no real excuse to kill. The question is this:
will Islamic moderates defend the Pope's right to make what they feel
is a bad speech and courageously attack the violent?

To make any moral equivalence between a speech like that of the Holy
Father and the burning of churches, the murder of a nun, and other
acts of violence is morally bankrupt.

Attack the content of the speech. Call the Pope names if you must,
but violence is the fault of the violent not of the man who gave a
paper making an argument.

Previous emotive reactions, such as the violence following the
publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed and Salman Rushdie's 1988
novel The Satanic Verses, should have warned people not to criticise

Do the Islamic radicals of Egypt really need an excuse to torch a
Coptic Church?

Here is the future if we do not take this War seriously: first
non-Moslems will be afraid to criticize Islam, then we will be forced
to adhere to Moslem practice to avoid offense. Outrageous tyranny
of those willing to be violent for their beliefs will force even
the majority in the West to adhere to the will of the most extreme
members of a minority unwilling to police its own.

As the Christians of the Middle East know from practice, there
are no equal rights for a religious minority in the Islamic east
today. If this Australian professor is the voice of moderate Islam,
then my critics are correct and there is no moderate Islam. This is
not neither moderate nor tolerable in a free society like Australia.

I refuse to believe my friends, Moslems of good will, would say this
thing. Let's argue about the truth of the Pope's speech, but give no
ground to those who loot and murder in its name.

Professor Yasmeen denied that the first reaction of many Muslims to
perceived insults was violence, despite calls by some clerics to kill
those who insult Islam and the murder of an Italian nun in Somalia.

If it is not the first reaction, then is it acceptable as a second
or third reaction? No matter how often the "provocation" violence
cannot be tolerated based on free speech.

We are war not because we do not like the views of Radical Islam or
the speeches the leaders of Radical Islam make, but because we are
defending our way of life.

This article in which an academic, paid by the West to teach our
children is the best example of our tolerance. This Moslem scholar
has the right to her views. . . we should publish them . . . and
argue against them, but we must not allow them to silence us.

Right now, this very night, seminary faculty all over America in
places like Harvard defame my beliefs. I lose no sleep over it and
I contemplate no violence even though such an assault on my view of
my precious Lord has gone on for decades.

"I am not supportive of people killing and blowing things up, but
people need to start looking at self censorship," she said.

If only that would end the murder, but the Christian Armenians know
it would not because they were a defeated minority and the radicals
killed them anyway.

They were silent and they died in the hundreds of thousands and the
Turkish government still will not admit they were murdered.

Professor Yasmeen said aggressive reactions were mainly limited to
countries with low literacy rates and limited understanding of global
politics, where Mohammed was seen to be the most important figure in
a person's life.

Do Christians kill as Moslem newspapers print defaming articles about
Christianity and the Holy Father? Even in countries with low literacy
rates? Would this Professor rather hold an Islamic cartoon about the
Pope in a low literacy rate Catholic nation or be a Christian with
the Pope's academic address in hand in any Islamic state?

The Pope's apology and explanation would have had little impact,
she said.

Why? Does Islam seek dialogue or only silent serfdom on the part of
Christians and Jews? Can we evangelize Moslems? I would give her the
chance to make her best case for Islam, if I can do the same safely
in a similar size Islamic university. But then, if my students convert
to Islam, their parents will be very sad, but if most Moslems convert
to Christianity, they must fear for their very lives in the Moslem
controlled world.

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