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No Truth in Terror - October 1, 2001

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Like moths to a flame, Muslims come to America like so many others, attracted by the light of freedom, openness and prosperity. Within the Muslim world, however, there is a faction that embraces a fanatic distortion of Islam. Members of this ilk believe that those who live among non-Muslims are violating the faith. Religious freedom, free enterprise, limited government and individual liberty are anathemas to their worldview and their power structure. The allure of Western values, institutions and lifestyle continuously threatens the authority, as well as the stability, of their regimes.

These regimes generally have an inner circle that maintains power and stockpiles privilege through brutality. Sacred writings, taken out of context, are often used as justification for barbarous acts. No loyal opposition, or upright rule of law, or representative governance, or sense of impartiality can peacefully coexist with this brand of radical fundamentalism.

History suggests that lack of freedom is one of the root causes for the distressed state of their populace. These fanatic promoters of a disfigured faith are totalitarians who seek to preserve and maintain power. They are thoroughly aware of the disastrous level of poverty, famine, drought and privation that besets their people, but place their own interests ahead of all else.

Like despots who preceded them, these autocrats seek out a scapegoat to which they can assign blame, so as to dispel any attachment of accountability to themselves for the misery of their people. Nazi Germany chose the Jews. The former Soviet Union chose capitalism. Now the neo-fascists in cleric garb choose the West.

Similar to the type of anti-American rhetoric heard at international conferences, the industrialized West is accused of having too much and sharing too little. This attitude conveniently plays into the hands of totalitarian states that possess a neurotic fear of Western civilization. They cringe at the prospect of a free marketplace and cower at the thought of a world dominated by American products, services, entertainment and culture.

If U.S. foreign policy had followed the exact outline suggested by the academic elite, hatred of Western lifestyle and culture would remain unchanged. If the state of Israel had never existed, antipathy toward America would still be as great. It is said by these warped adherents that Israel is our marionette. For this, she has been labeled "Little Satan." The epithet "Great Satan" has been reserved for the contemporary focus of Western civilization, America.

America's freedom stands as a threat to a corrupted form of Islam. Our country's shining beacon of hope entices Muslims by the millions to exit their homelands and assimilate into a land steeped with promise. An extremist Islamic worldview is totally incompatible with Western life. So it is that terrorists with this philosophic bent seek to kill us. So it is that we have no alternative but to defeat them decisively.

On December 4, 2000, in Orange County, California, I was privileged to be the moderator of a unique event. Biola University hosted a panel dialogue in which seven leaders from the Arab, Jewish and Christian communities came together to answer the following question: "Will there be peace in Jerusalem?" The marvel that these individuals had the courage to sit down at the same table was transcended only by the magnitude of their reasoned discussion.

My role necessitated significant interaction with retired Israeli generals, Orthodox Jewish rabbis, Islamic activists and Arab leaders. The experience left me with an appreciation for the wide variety of theological division that exists within the Muslim faith.

What came up over and over again, though, from members of the panel and the audience alike, was the phrase used by Muslims to describe Jews and Christians all over the world. They refer to these brethren as the "People of the Book."

This description comes from the basic Muslim tenet that God/Allah had previously endowed the Jewish and Christian prophets with His divine revelation. For this reason, followers of Islam accept both the Old and the New Testament. They believe that Islam is the perfection of these earlier scriptures, and they hold in a higher regard those who believe in the sacred writings.

It was also explained to me that the Koran assigns a great value to life, much as the Jewish and Christian traditions do. At no time during the conference did a single individual from the thousands in attendance ever condone, advocate or even hint at the notion that tolerance for terrorism is somehow acceptable.

American citizens, who happen to express their faith in mosques, represent the kind of belief in Islam that the fanatics cannot pierce. These are the Muslims from around the world who are aligned in spirit with the moral underpinnings of our nation. These are the Muslims who share in elevating the universal principles of right and wrong. These are the Muslims who soundly affirm - truth will be the conqueror and will overcome terror.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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