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March 26, 2004
My Nominee for the PC Awards

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, will likely be excoriated by the lords of politically correctness for a speech he gave yesterday in Rome -- but more voices need to be added to Lord Carey's if we are to prevail in the war on terror:

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, launched a trenchant attack on Islamic culture last night, saying it was authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.

In a speech that will upset sensitive relations between the faiths, he denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the "evil" of suicide bombers. He attacked the "glaring absence" of democracy in Muslim countries, suggested that they had contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries and criticised the Islamic faith.

Carey only says what is objectively true on its face: the Muslim world, with the notable exception of Turkey and perhaps Indonesia, has not progressed and in many ways is rooted firmly in the twelfth century. Islam has never had its Enlightenment or Renaissance, meaning that it has never gone through a process which purifies the spiritual by eventually divorcing it from temporal power. As a result, Islam remains a religion that relies on force of arms, as Carey states:

Contrasting western democracy with Islamic societies, he said: "Throughout the Middle East and North Africa we find authoritarian regimes with deeply entrenched leadership, some of which rose to power at the point of a gun and are retained in power by massive investment in security forces.

"Whether they are military dictatorships or traditional sovereignties, each ruler seems committed to retaining power and privilege."

Of course, dictatorships and autocrats are not exclusive to Islam, as a quick tour of Latin America and the Caribbean could demonstrate. However, it's almost entirely true that Islamic countries are run by either dictatorships or autocracies/monarchies whose power is near-absolute, where Western nations are much more likely to be run by democratic. multi-party systems that guarantee basic human rights.

Carey warns us not to forget the gains that Western nations have made over the past millenium. We should not be embarrassed by our progress, nor should we make excuses for Islam's lack of it, especially since that stagnation has cost us thousands of lives in senseless attacks by Islamic fanatics, with nary a peep from the "moderate" Muslims in our midst. However, you can be sure that by this time tomorrow, the PC Police of the West will have demanded a retraction and apology from Lord Carey and will have blamed his attitude for causing Islamic terrorism by promoting 'conflict' and 'misunderstanding'.

UPDATE: Here's the reaction I knew would follow:

The ex-archbishop's comments were greeted with fury by Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester, home to 40,000 Muslims. "This is a disastrous statement from the former archbishop," said Mr Moghal. "He has fallen prey to the campaign tactics of racists in this country."

Rejecting Lord Carey's claim that Muslim leaders do not do enough to criticise terrorists, Mr Moghal said: "That is nonsense - we condemn suicide bombers, we go on radio, on television, we have made statements. What more can we do? We cannot be responsible for the criminal actions of others."

That's certainly true -- and I am not as familiar with British Muslim reaction as I am with that of their American counterparts. Here in the US, Muslim reaction has been almost entirely concerned with racial profiling and publicizing of dubious claims of harassment, rather than speaking out clearly, consistently, and forcefully against terrorism and violent jihad as antithetical to Islam. Nor has the media held them accountable for that silence.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 26, 2004 6:15 AM

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