Pope Francis turns ostrich, blames Islamist terrorism on economics and the West

We already know that even though Islamists are violently opposed to nonbelievers, and that ISIS would as soon decapitate Pope Francis as look at him, you’ll never see “moderate” or “liberal” religious leaders criticizing Islam. That’s because they’re all in the same boat—the leaky S. S. Faith—and if you denigrate another faith for having false or violence-promoting beliefs, you’re by proxy questioning your own faith.

That’s why, despite ISIS’s avowed aims, and its clear statement yesterday that it’s waging war from a purist interpretation of Islam, Pope Francis still refuses to blame Islamist terrorism on Islam. His Superstitioness is still in Poland, but on a flight from Krakow yesterday did everything he could to exculpate another Abrahamic faith, as well as to blame Islamist terrorism on the West. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Pope Francis said the inspiration for terrorism wasn’t Islam but a world economy that worshiped the “god of money” and drove the disenfranchised to violence.

“Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person, “ the pope told reporters late Sunday as he returned to the Vatican from a five-day visit in Poland. “This is fundamental terrorism, against all humanity.”

Speaking on his flight from Krakow, the pope was responding to a question about links between Islam and recent terrorist attacks, particularly the killing on Tuesday of a priest in northern France by followers of Islamic State.

Pope Francis suggested that the social and economic marginalization of Muslim youth in Europe helped explain the actions of those who joined extremist groups. “How many youths have we Europeans left empty of ideals? They don’t have work, and they turn to drugs and alcohol. They go [abroad] and enroll in fundamentalist groups,” the pope said.

His own experience in interreligious dialogue had shown him that Muslims seek “peace and encounter,” he said. “It is not right and it is not just to say that Islam is terroristic.” And he said no religion had a monopoly on violent members.

The man is either extremely canny or completely oblivious. Many Islamic terrorists are well off (e.g., the 9/11 conspirators), and that doesn’t stop them from killing. Or, if some disenfranchised people do harbor anger, why is it only Muslims that turn their poverty or income inequality into murder? Why aren’t Indians or Africans (exclusive of Islamist Africans) not engaged in mass slaughter in their own countries and in the West?

And seriously, it’s the fault of the West marginalizing Muslims? Yes, of course there is anti-Muslim bigotry in parts of the West, as there is anti-black bigotry (I’ve seen both in France), and that might contribute to terrorism, but it takes religion to light the fuse of that bomb. We don’t see African migrants to France, for example, blowing up nightclubs. And remember that many terrorists aren’t homegrown, but migrants that go to the West with the aim of terrorism.

And WTF: “his own experience”? What experience does the Pope have with Muslims? Has he been to the mosques of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia? How many madrasas has he visited?

Finally, it’s irrelevant to say that “no religion has a monopoly on violent members.” That kind of stupid rhetoric really angers me. The question is twofold: do some religions have more violent members than others, and could that violence possibly be prompted by a religion’s scriptures?

And is anyone persuaded by palaver like this?

“If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent,” Pope Francis said, dismissing Islamic State as a “small fundamentalist group” not representative of Islam as a whole.

“In almost all religions there is always a small group of fundamentalists,” even in the Catholic Church, the pope said, though not necessarily physically violent. “One can kill with the tongue as well as the knife.”

There’s just no logic here: the Pope is using cherry-picked anecdotes as a substitute for data. Further, as the bit in bold shows, he doesn’t want to believe that his own scripture inspires violence. But it does: both the explicit violence of abortion-doctor murders, and the implicit killings resulting from African Catholics who preach against contraception, fostering the spread of HIV/AIDS. And, of course, back in the good old days, Catholic dogma was behind the Inquisition—surely “Catholic violence.” Now there’s no chance for Catholics to do that: they have neither the power nor the mandate from believers who have been tamed by modern morality.

Yeah, the Pope is a nice guy, and sometimes says the right words (here in Poland, for instance, he urged the nation to accept more immigrants), but he just can’t free himself of the shackles of faith-soaked ignorance. If Gary Gutting can accept that Islam causes violence, why can’t Pope Francis?

isis-says-will-kill-pope-and-take-over-rome

Wake up, Pope! They just killed one of your priests, and more are coming.

63 Comments

  1. Dave
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The pope compares a guy in Rome stabbing his gf with ISIL’s terrorism in order to say that no religion is without its violent members…but the guy stabbing his gf in Rome isn’t doing it FOR his g-d because he thinks it will help him get to heaven.

    Also, he said that the lack of economic opportunities create terrorists, not religion. The funny thing is, though, that I don’t see Euro or Dollar symbols on ISIL’s flag; it’s junk about Allah.

    Totally disingenuous BS so that they can hear their followers talk about how much of a man of peace he is, etc. Ridiculous.

    • somer
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      except don’t they come to the west for economic opportunities and isn’t he always inveighing against the west for being well off? Logic pretzel

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Worshiping the g*d of money is what causes terrorism. If that were true the pope makes Osama bin Laden look like a piker. Where are all the Catholic suicide bombers?

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Also, how does he fancy that the economy should work? He seems to confuse economy with “health & human services” or charity. Economy is driven by profit, which is expressed in money, unless we want to revert to the Bronze Age when they counted cows or shells. If there is a book “Economics for Dummies”, someone must give it to the Pope.

      • Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        The church is anti-capitalist and anti-communist, but why worry about economics when there’s always enough loaves and fishes to go around?

        Consider the lollies of the field, etc.

  3. Kevin
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Francis probably sits on a minimum of $5bn immediately disposable income. He could solely undo the West’s incompetence and give all the money to ISIS and then he could walk through the streets of northern Iraq pronouncing that it is Jesus who can save them. What could he possibly fear?

    Francis would be unwittingly confronted with his own humanity. He would be terrified with the unmistakable dread of what it really means to be an abomination in the eyes of others.

  4. Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    The CEO of Catholic Inc could end poverty and should be dealing with Vatican Sex Crimes

  5. Charles Aimsworth
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Dear Professor Coyne,

    I had previously submitted the following “comment” on a related topic on your estimable site but it did not appear. I may have made some error in submission as I admit computer issues are not my strength. in light of the similarity of this topic I hope you will consider it for publication here.

    Many thanks from an appreciative reader.

    Cordially,
    C. Aimsworth

    === begin included text ===

    Because you put weight on primary “from the horse’s mouth” documents I am sure you will wish to attend closely to Osama bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa (with the title of “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”) and 1998 fatwa, summarized at this web address: http://www.heritage.org/research/projects/enemy-detention/al-qaeda-declarations

    These fatwas say with clarity that the motivating factor is American military actions. I quote from the summary of the 1996 fatwa:

    The central premise of this fatwa is that “the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity, and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators.” He chronicles the various “injustices” and concludes that, “It is no longer possible to be quiet. It is not acceptable to give a blind eye to this matter.”

    You will notice that the central premises do not include religion. Here is a quote from the summary of the 1998 fatwa and a similar observation applies:

    The fatwa reasons that “three facts that are known to everyone” compel war against the United States. First, the United States has been “occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places.” Second, the “crusader-Zionist alliance” has inflicted great devastation upon the Iraqi people. Third, the United States’ goal is “to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there.”

    From bin Laden’s own words it is clear that American foreign policy plays a large role – for al Qaeda, a central role, if we are to believe him (as you believe this article in an ISIS magazine). Of course it is also true that religion informs every action of al Qaeda, and I do not doubt that a jihadist mindset fueled by religion was central to bin Laden’s violent reaction to American foreign policy. Motivations are seldom unequivocal.

    Religion surely plays its role in the actions of these groups, and American and Western foreign policy also plays its role, a role which is primary and quite direct in the instance of al Qaeda as per the words of its own principal. ISIS too points to foreign policy as a motivation for its horrific attacks (as you rightly note it has done in the article you mention), but it is a more nihilistic and fanatical group. Nonetheless, Western intelligence organizations have said its creation can be traced back to the attack on Iraq led by the United States. This is called “blowback” in the professional literature. It is in this sense that the existence and therefore actions of ISIS are a direct result of American foreign policy, even though the goals of the group extend beyond this purview, as you rightly observe.

    To summarize, there is no need to hew solely to one narrative or another. Both contain elements of truth. In rightly criticizing the misguided who would shield Islam from proper examination, we must take care that we ourselves do not fall into dichotomous thinking.

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Did you read what I wrote? I have never said that religion is the sole motivating factor for terrorism. However, you need to read “The Looming Tower” to see how Al-Qaeda grew from the Muslim Brotherhood, and that itself was very largely motivated by the same factors that ISIS adduced in the post I made yesterday. Also, you simply cannot blame stuff like Muslim execution of apostates, Yazidis, gays, adulterers, and so on, as well as its oppression of women on American attacks. Those are Islamic doctrine, pure and simple, and have nothing to do with the West.

      • Charles Aimsworth
        Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Professor Coyne,

        I thank you for your reply. I did read what you wrote, but I think perhaps you did not read what I wrote. I thought I stated quite clearly that religion plays a key role in the actions of al Qaeda and ISIS as well. We are in full agreement that the horrifying persecution of gays, apostates, women and others are a direct result of the Islamic religion of these groups. We similarly abhor the refusal of many people across the political spectrum to admit such an obvious fact.

        However, this does not contradict the notion that al Qaeda specifically targets the United States and its allies as a result of U.S. foreign policy, as clearly stated by Osama bin Laden in his fatwas and other communications. Nor does it contradict the truism that the U.S. backed the fanatical mujahideen in Afghanistan, including bin Laden, who later formed al Qaeda. Nor does it contradict the notion, affirmed by Western statesmen and intelligence agencies, that the U.S. war in Iraq created the petri dish in which the malignancy that is ISIS grew, or that the primary targets have been the countries of that and related Western military coalitions, which ISIS has regularly made explicit in their post-terror communiques.

        Finally, that both al Qaeda and ISIS undertake actions guided by their religion – ISIS more so than al Qaeda, as I observed – does not in any way conflict with any of this. A fanatical religious group may arise to oppose a superpower, or out of the chaos created by a superpower’s military actions, and simultaneously attack that superpower and its allies as well as working to advance a fanatical religious agenda. As I said, it is in this sense that the existence and therefore actions of ISIS (and al Qaeda as well) are a direct result of and reaction to American foreign policy, even though the goals of the groups extend beyond this purview, as you rightly observe.

        If you have recognized the role of U.S. foreign policy in the creation and actions of al Qaeda, ISIS, or any other similar group, I am afraid I have not seen it, though I have seen you cast aspersions on the notion with regularity, seemingly giving it no credence. I would be pleased to learn that this is merely an oversight on my part, and in that instance I would appreciate having you point me toward any such writing you have done. As I said, and most strongly believe, in rightly criticizing the misguided who would claim Islam plays no role in terrorism, we ourselves should take care not to fall into similarly dichotomous thinking.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          Let’s start on one point in particular, and that is the notion that the U.S. (or general Western meddling) in the middle east had much to do with the emergence of ISIS. As I recall events, ISIS got its start and grew powerful during the civil war in Syria. Its stated goal is to establish an Islamic calliphate and that goal has been a very insular goal that goes back some centuries. I would allow that ISIS might not have spread into Iraq if it were not for the 2nd Iraq war, however.

          • Charles Aimsworth
            Posted August 3, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

            Mark,

            I would refer you to this lengthy Newsweek article, among others: http://www.newsweek.com/2015/07/03/isis-george-w-bush-barack-obama-342613.html

            ISIS’s precursor, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, emerged in 2004 to resist the American occupation. Led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian, the group consisted of Sunnis, many of them disgruntled former Iraqi soldiers left without paychecks after the Bush administration disbanded the Iraqi army. Using suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices, Zarqawi and his recruits attacked American troops and Shiite mosques in a bid to expel American soldiers, foment a sectarian war and establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq.

            This is of course not a question for which we can never have a single clear and definitive answer, but the central role of the U.S. attack on Iraq is manifest.

            I would note that even here we see the mixed purposes of these fanatical religious zealots: attacking American forces on the one hand while attacking other Muslims on the other. As you rightly observe, the goals of ISIS extend far beyond simply fighting against U.S. militarism, but again, that in no way contradicts the pivotal role the U.S. war in Iraq played in the development of the group. It is, rather, one of the strongest arguments – beyond the obvious moral arguments – for eschewing such brutal military assaults.

            • Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

              I see for first time any subdivision of Al-Qaeda called “ISIS precursor”. I am always surprised to what length people are willing to go in order to blame the West and particularly the USA for Islamist terror.

              In the early 1990s, dismantling of communism in my country led to the dismissal of many police officers. A huge number of them went directly to the underground world. There were many voices similar to yours, that the police reform was a bad idea – see the situation now, every businessman racketeered, drugs sold at every corner, streets resembling a war zone! Others said that if a policeman is ready to become a criminal at the moment when he is deprived of his paycheck, he shouldn’t be in the police, better to have him as a civilian criminal; and we must grind our teeth and endure the crime surge. We endured and have much less crime now. Of course, the policemen in question were not Islamists; if they were, maybe they would become terrorists.

              • Charles Aimsworth
                Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

                Maya,

                I am surprised that you say this is the first time you’ve seen “any subdivision of Al-Qaeda called an ‘ISIS precursor'”, since I know of no mainstream source that does not report this as fact. It is simply common knowledge. Here are a few sources for you in addition to that Newsweek article, taken from a wide range.

                The Council on Foreign Relations (http://www.cfr.org/iraq/islamic-state/p14811):

                The group that calls itself the Islamic State can trace its lineage to the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aligned his Jama’at al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad with al-Qaeda, making it al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

                The Encyclopedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Islamic-State-in-Iraq-and-the-Levant):

                ISIL has its origins in the Iraq War of 2003–11. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), its direct precursor, was one of the central actors in a larger Sunni insurgency against the Iraqi government and foreign occupying forces.

                The BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29052144):

                IS can trace its roots back to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian. In 2004, a year after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and formed al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which became a major force in the insurgency. After Zarqawi’s death in 2006, AQI created an umbrella organisation, Islamic State in Iraq (ISI).

                The Brookings Institution (https://www.brookings.edu/articles/isis-vs-al-qaeda-jihadisms-global-civil-war/):

                The Islamic State began as an Iraqi organization, and this legacy shapes the movement today. Jihadist groups proliferated in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion, and many eventually coalesced around Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian jihadist who spent time in Afghanistan in the 1990s and again in 2001. Though bin Laden gave Zarqawi seed money to start his organization, Zarqawi at first refused to swear loyalty to and join Al Qaeda, as he shared only some of bin Laden’s goals and wanted to remain independent. After months of negotiations, however, Zarqawi pledged his loyalty, and in 2004 his group took on the name Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to signify this connection.

                You can no doubt find many more references yourself quite easily. Whatever one makes of it, it is as I say quite commonly known that the history of ISIS traces directly back to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

              • Posted August 4, 2016 at 1:18 am | Permalink

                My mistake: sources indeed call AQI precursor of ISIS (though I still think, based on the same facts, that AQI is al-Nusra’s precursor).

              • Charles Aimsworth
                Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

                (This is a re-post since my original reply seems not to have shown up; apologies if it is a duplicate.)

                Maya,

                I am surprised that you say this is the first time you’ve seen “any subdivision of Al-Qaeda called an ‘ISIS precursor'”, since I know of no mainstream source that does not report this as fact. It is simply common knowledge. Here are a few sources for you in addition to that Newsweek article, taken from a wide range. I previously posted these along with web links but I fear this may have prevented the comment from appearing, so I have removed the links; you may Google phrases if you wish to find these links yourself.

                The Council on Foreign Relations:

                The group that calls itself the Islamic State can trace its lineage to the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aligned his Jama’at al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad with al-Qaeda, making it al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

                The Encyclopedia Britannica:

                ISIL has its origins in the Iraq War of 2003–11. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), its direct precursor, was one of the central actors in a larger Sunni insurgency against the Iraqi government and foreign occupying forces.

                The BBC:

                IS can trace its roots back to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian. In 2004, a year after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and formed al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which became a major force in the insurgency. After Zarqawi’s death in 2006, AQI created an umbrella organisation, Islamic State in Iraq (ISI).

                The Brookings Institution:

                The Islamic State began as an Iraqi organization, and this legacy shapes the movement today. Jihadist groups proliferated in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion, and many eventually coalesced around Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian jihadist who spent time in Afghanistan in the 1990s and again in 2001. Though bin Laden gave Zarqawi seed money to start his organization, Zarqawi at first refused to swear loyalty to and join Al Qaeda, as he shared only some of bin Laden’s goals and wanted to remain independent. After months of negotiations, however, Zarqawi pledged his loyalty, and in 2004 his group took on the name Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to signify this connection.

                You can no doubt find many more references yourself quite easily. Whatever one makes of it, it is as I say quite commonly known that the history of ISIS traces directly back to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

        • JohnE
          Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Mr. Aimsworth: I’m afraid your argument is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. The first of his 3 justifications was the fact that American infidels were “occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places.” Thus, it was clearly and explicitly the mythical status of these particular plots of real estate as “holy” sites for the Islamic religion was the source of Bin Laden’s rage. I would also refer you to the transcript of the interview John Miller of ABC news did with Bin Laden in May of 1998 where you will find the following gems from the mouth of Bin Laden as to what his motivations were —

          * “Allah is the one who created us and blessed us with this religion, and orders us to carry out the holy struggle “jihad” to raise the word of Allah above the words of the unbelievers.”

          * “As we mentioned before, Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all non-believers, and especially the Arabian Peninsula where the Ke’ba is.”

          * “We are sure of Allah’s victory and our victory against the Americans and the Jews as promised by the prophet peace be up on him: ‘Judgment day shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, whereas the Jews will hide behind trees and stones, and the tree and the stone will speak and say ‘Muslim, behind me a Jew come and kill him’, except for the al-Ghargad tree, which is a Jewish plant.'”

          You can find a wealth of additional religious justifications in the transcript, which can be found here: http://www.theppsc.org/Archives/Terrorism/Terrorists/Bin_Laden_Interview.htm

          • Charles Aimsworth
            Posted August 3, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            John,

            You are right that religion plays a pivotal role in the actions and motivations of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, but I am afraid you are guilty of just the sort of selective reading I am decrying here. I quote Osama bin Laden from your linked article:

            – “Your situation with Muslims in Palestine is shameful, if there is any shame left in America. In the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, a cooperation between Zionist and Christian forces, houses were demolished over the heads of children. Also, by testimony of relief workers in Iraq, the American led sanctions resulted in the death of over 1 million Iraqi children. All of this was done in the name of American interests. We believe that the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is to use similar means.”

            – “We are surprised this question is coming from Americans. Each action will solicit a similar reaction. We must use such punishment to keep your evil away from Muslims, Muslim children and women.”

            – “The Americans impose themselves on everyone who believes in his religion and his rights. They accuse our children in Palestine of being terrorists. Those children that have no weapons and have not even reached maturity. At the same time they defend a country with its airplanes and tanks, and the state of the Jews, that has a policy to destroy the future of these children. Clinton stands after Qana and defends the horrible massacre that severed the heads of children and killed about 100 persons. Clinton stands and claims Israel has the right to defend itself. We do not worry about American opinion, or the fact the place prices on our heads.”

            There are many more such quotes from bin Laden in your interview, and he expresses these same views in the 1996 and 1998 fatwas I mentioned.

            I reiterate that it as much as it is a mistake to deny the religious motivations of al Qaeda, ISIS and other groups, it is wrong to deny the crucial role of U.S. foreign policy. Skipping over the quotes we agree with to reach those that support our view is a classic symptom of confirmation bias, and in my view it is as serious a mistake to do so as it is for many people to deny the clear role of Islam in the ideologies, actions, and goals of these groups.

            • JohnE
              Posted August 3, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

              Thanks for your response.

              It seems to me that we are looking at the same facts and drawing different conclusions — or perhaps we have a different understanding of the question being addressed. I certainly concede that the muslim community has (or claims to have) many grievances against the West in general and the United States in particular. The question that I believe Professor Coyne was raising (and answering in the negative) was whether these grievances would have resulted in the acts of terrorism we are now seeing without the influence of Islamic theology. Regrettably, Islam provides: (1) the “moral justification” necessary for some in the muslim community to commit these acts (as quoted by Bin Laden in my previous comment), (2) the promise of an eternal reward for those acts, and (3) a framework/hierarchy to organize and fan the rage over these grievances. As Professor Coyne has pointed out, similar injustices have been inflicted against various groups throughout modern history, without provoking the same response (acts of terrorism) from those other groups. Thus, to my mind, while the grievances of the muslim community may have driven them to the precipice, it was a leap of faith that took them over the edge.

              • Charles Aimsworth
                Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                John,

                Thank you for your reply as well. I believe we might agree more than we disagree if we were to discuss these issues in person. As I have said, I do not deny the role of Islam in the character and manner of response of al Qaeda, ISIS and others; far from it. But neither do I deny the role of U.S. foreign policy, which is explicitly cited by the principals in the quotes I have cited. I would suggest that it is best to pay close attention to all of bin Laden’s words, and that if we do so we arrive at the position I’ve presented here.

                Regarding “moral justification”, I would point you again to bin Laden’s statements in that interview you cited:

                American history does not distinguish between civilians and military, and not even women and children. They are the ones who used the bombs against Nagasaki. Can these bombs distinguish between infants and military? America does not have a religion that will prevent it from destroying all people.

                Your situation with Muslims in Palestine is shameful, if there is any shame left in America. In the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, a cooperation between Zionist and Christian forces, houses were demolished over the heads of children. Also, by testimony of relief workers in Iraq, the American led sanctions resulted in the death of over 1 million Iraqi children.

                All of this was done in the name of American interests. We believe that the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is to use similar means.

                Dispute him or agree with him, but we cannot deny that he is making the point that the levels of violence the United States uses, and the scale of its civilian death toll, means that al Qaeda and others are justified to use “similar means” of violence against the U.S. and its allies.

                The promise of eternal reward may make someone more willing to die for a cause, but it is not sufficient in and of itself, and the evidence clearly points to U.S. foreign policy as a central motivating factor in the actions of al Qaeda, and in the case of ISIS also a primary cause for its existence.

          • Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            + 1

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      I think you make a balanced case that there is more than one factor at play here concerning al Qaeda. But I don’t think OBL would have had much enmity toward Western actions in the holy lands if we were Muslims, and probably none if we were Sunni. But we are “Zionist-Crusaders”, and so that makes a big difference. As is so often the theme, it is religious difference that is most inspirational to the religious.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes – calling his enemy a “Zionist-Crusader alliance” is drenched in religious symbolism and exemplifies how OBL looked at all issues.

      • Charles Aimsworth
        Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Mark,

        Thank you for your reply. We are certainly in agreement that religion plays a strong role in the actions and motivations of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, though we may differ in the details.

        As I observed in another comment, the mujahideen in Afghanistan gladly accepted funding and arms from the “Zionist-Crusaders” of the United States in the 1980s. So religious differences were manifestly not the guiding concern for them there. Also, bin Laden regularly decried the corrupt Arab governments supported by the United States, without regard to the fact that Islam (including Sunni variants) dominated in those societies. This is the mirror image: religious similarities are not enough to ameliorate their hostility.

        So while we certainly agree that religion plays a central role, and it is certainly true that these groups view the world through a religious lens and will cast all issues in that light, I take them at their word when they outline their reasons for attacking the United States, specifically including U.S. warmaking and sanctions in Iraq (and military interventions elsewhere in the region), support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, and other similar misdeeds. I also agree with the assessment of Western intelligence agencies when they state that “Al Qaida and associated groups will continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat will be heightened by military action against Iraq”, and that that applies more broadly to Western military interventions.

        There is no contradiction here; fanatical religious groups may attack Western nations because of those countries’ actions, or may come into being as a result of those actions, yet also have goals that go beyond that. Indeed, it would be quite surprising were that not true. It is nearly always the case that groups have multifarious goals and motivations, and I think we understand the world best when we recognize this.

    • Posted August 4, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      First, the United States has been “occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places.”

      In what context is the holiest lands of Islam not a religiously based motivation? Holy doesn’t even have a meaning outside of religion!

      Of course, you’re willfully turning a blind eye to what bin Laden’s solution is–eradication of the Jewish people as well as all infidels either by conversion or death. Here are just a handful of his religiously motivated quotes:

      “Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion. The wind of faith is blowing.”

      “These Jews are masters of usury and leaders in treachery. They will leave you nothing, either in this world or the next.”

      “Every Muslim, from the moment they realize the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews and hates Christians. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans.”

      “You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?”

      Now, there are quotes in there talking about issues with no mention of religion as well, but the claim is not that religion is a sole motivator which would be just as shortsighted as saying it isn’t a motivator at all. It’s much easier to convince people to die for a cause when you convince them that death isn’t the end, and that in death you have life, a better life than you have here. Pope Frank’s religion shares this basis, which I think accounts for a large share of his whitewashing.

  6. mark
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    If Islam is as bad as you say it is, how can it be a good idea for Poland to accept thousands (millions?)of Muslim migrants?

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I wish to know how many the Vatican has accepted.
      Actually, Poland has accepted a lot of Chechens and, in recent years, Ukrainians.

    • Scientifik
      Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      Good question.

  7. frankschmidtmissouri
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Although Islam-inspired terrorism is most prominent in the news, no religion or ideology has a monopoly on inspiring terrorism. There are and have been Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and, yes, Jewish terrorists. Even atheists.

    I look to Juan Cole for a non-hysterical and non-“cherry-picking” source of information about the Middle East. Much better than the WSJ or the Pope.

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Umm. . . do you think that at the present time, Buddhists terrorists and atheist terrorists are just as big a threat as Islamist terrorists? If not, what is your point. The issue is what causes most of the problem right now, and here’s a hint–it ain’t Buddhists or atheists.

      How many atheist terrorists can you name, by the way: people who have killed in the name of atheism?

      • frankschmidtmissouri
        Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Buddhist terrorists? Yes, if you are a Muslim living in Myanmar.

        The Bader-Meinhof gang, an old example but they were plenty lethal back in the day.

        • Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          You are arguing in bad faith. I am referring to what is happening now, as you can clearly see if you actually read my comment. Are you going to cite the Inquisition to show that Catholics are just as liable to be terrorists as Muslims now? And and Baader-Meinhof group (two “a”s, by the way) was motivated by politics and class struggle, not atheism. They did not kill in the name of atheism the way that ISIS kills in the name of Islam.

          I suggest you frequent other websites where you can make these ridiculous arguments without ridicule.You lack the intellectual honesty to comment here.

        • Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          The Baader-Meinhoff killed 34 people in 30 years.

          That’s less than half the number of people killed by one Islamist in Nice in just a few minutes.

        • somer
          Posted August 3, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          The persecution of the Rohingya is not terrorism with a political aim – it is a local issue – a nasty reaction to ethnic and cultural differences towards a population that was expanded (originally Muslim traders then British labour imports from Bengal then from modern day Bangladesh) Nasty as it is it is not a global campaign against a group or groups, let alone a global ambition to convert by force. All groups have had these disputes in one form or other

          The Bader-Meinhoff incident was tiny by comparison and died out.

  8. Al
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    The previous pope, Pope Benedict, was less of a squish in the question of Islam and violence. In a 2006 address he quoted a Byzantine emperor:

    “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

    In the address he clearly identified a tendency in Islam to spread the faith by violence.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regensburg_lecture

    • jimroberts
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      I think you misrepresent Ratzinger’s intentions in the speech, in which he accepted that reason can be good and useful when applied to the development of theology, but that reason as misapplied by post-enlightenment secularists is an affront to both Islam and Christianity. His minor dig at what he saw as irrationality in Islam’s history, while dishonestly ignoring the equally bad record of Christianity, was a tactical mistake on his part: he failed to adequately allow for the hair-trigger sensitivity of Islamists to the slightest hint of criticism.

      • Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        I think he knew about this sensitivity. After all, he met with Oriana Falaci.

  9. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    All over the world there are groups that are marginalized within their societies. Currently, the majority of those who react by murdering indiscriminately are those also inspired by the teaching of Islamists. Those Islamists are mostly Wahhabi, a fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam, and funded by Saudi Arabia.

    • somer
      Posted August 4, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

      As far as I can tell Wahhabis are particularly keen on sectarianism even within Sunni Islam but all the orthodox texts Ive looked at say Muslims should obey their ruler or leader only so long as (he) upholds Islam or the Islam of (his) school. Plus the sunni shia sectarianism has always been a live issue. Salafis (as opposed to Wahabbis) started in late 19th Century and according to Encyclopaedia of Islam E.J. Brill Leiden 1994 wanted to combat colonialism by being pragmatic about technical aspects of modernity – only for a leading class of muslims, but ditching mystic traditions which they saw as playing into the colonisers hands, and promoting backward Islam only education for the masses. With the aim of getting and staying independent and Islamic. Like Wahabbis they focus on example of the prophet and what happened in the Prophet’s time (Prophet’s life and hadith) more than traditional 9th Century systems of interpretation. They had support of the merchant classes.

      Orthodox medieval texts like Hideya (Hanifi school) and Guidance of the Traveller (Shaafi or Sy’afi school) are absolutely clear about violent jihad being an essential part of the faith. Cant remember what it said about apostates in Hideya but G of Traveller is clear even for expressing disagreement with a single sahih tenet – the penalty is death! So they are not exactly tolerant. I suspect the moderating factor in the meantime until recently has been illiteracy, combined a degree of necessary accommodation of pre islamic custom outside the heartlands,and adoption of some western style law in modern times.

  10. Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    1 Timothy 6:10. Can’t these people come up with something new?

  11. todd morgan
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I may be wrong, Jerry, but didn’t you blame extremist islam on ‘the colonial west’ a few weeks ago?

    I may have misread you.

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      No way. And there’s no way I could even be MISREAD to think that. My views have been consistent and clear all along–or so I think. If you find a link that says otherwise (and I have said that Western incursion has contributed to SOME Islamist violence, but is not the main factor), I’ll eat my hat.

  12. Sastra
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    “How many youths have we Europeans left empty of ideals? They don’t have work, and they turn to drugs and alcohol. They go [abroad] and enroll in fundamentalist groups,” the pope said.

    So a love of money drives people towards religion? Fanatics prepared to kill and be killed for the love of God worship the Almighty Dollar? He can’t mean that.

    Religion is on the same downward continuum as drugs and alcohol? From the pope? I doubt it.

    Maybe he means that we can keep people from fully embracing spiritual ideology by providing them with a comfortable secular life. No. Not that either. Might work, but he doesn’t WANT that.

    Pope seems rather confused to me.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Not confused…just very apologetic

      • Somer
        Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Or maybe both. Don’t forget he just told us that “One can kill with the tongue as well as the knife.” So nasty free speech has to be squished cos reasoning with faith is like killing someone.

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      I see a kernel of truth here. I think that the failure of the West to instill the ideals of its Enlightenment inside its borders as well as beyond them empowers Islamism. But more Western self-bashing of course can only make the problem worse.

      • Sastra
        Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        I think the problem is also made worse by the pope (or anyone) framing the situation as a ‘love of money’ vs. a ‘love of God.’ As you point out, those are not the only options.

        What puzzles me about the pope’s statement is that he seems to be blaming consumerism for causing religious fanaticism — as if he wasn’t promoting the same “the world is shallow, reject it and submit to a Higher Power” ideology. It’s not as if people are sucked into joining ISIS because of all the swag.

  13. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Part of the problem is a boy who cried wolf syndrome. Centuries of stupid anti-Semitism have made criticism of Islam a harder sell, in spite of good data.

    In WWI, Brits made up a lot of phony propaganda about German atrocities towards prisoners of war. Consequently, when the Nazis DID engage in such atrocities during WW2, reports of these were simply disbelieved!! I suspect something like this (albeit more complex) is now happening on a larger scale, even though there is much more data to back up the Islam-wary point of view.

    The Catholic church got all interfaith in the 1960s as a consequence of the Vatican II council, and in particular made valiant (though often misguided!!) attempts to repair its relationship with Jews during the reign of John Paul II (like me he grew up in a largely Jewish neighborhood, though we have little else in common). The mitred ones are now unwilling to back off this new-found friendliness to other religions.

    One can always be semi-friendly to some religions while allowing that there are religions that are deeply toxic. A major figure holding that view was William James. If folks at the Huffington Post aren’t going to listen to heavy duty rationalists, they could still pick up that you can be severely critical of some religions from reading “The Varieties of Religious Experience”.

  14. Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Ensconced in opulence and interfaith ignorance, the emperor of ice cream tows the line once again. Anything but piety on trial, sayeth your holiness.

  15. jimroberts
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    The Varieties of Religious Experience is well worth reading. It has been said that William James wrote books on psychology that read like novels, while his brother wrote novels that read like books on psychology.

    • jimroberts
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Oops: meant as reply to #13.

  16. Tom
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    In the UK whilst we saw reports of “race crimes” against muslims it was rarely recorded as to what religion the “racists” belonged. Perhaps the idea was that this didn’t matter. However, since the word “hate” is being increasingly and carefully replacing the word “race” it likely that the pope is intent on downplaying the religious angle and getting his particular religion off a potentially uncomfortable legal hook since the past hostile attitude of the RC church to Islam has been that of hate rather than than that of race so the religious identities may start to matter in a Court.

  17. Claudia Baker
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    If money is at the root of all this terror, as the pope says, why doesn’t the catholic church divest itself of its millions to ease the problem? Such hypocrisy. It hurts my brain.

    Oh, and “His Superstitioness” – best title
    ever!

    • Posted August 4, 2016 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      Shouldn’t it be spelled His Superstitionness? “Ess” added to a noun indicates a female, e.g., waitress, actress, and in this case, Superstitioness. I suggest the suffix “-Ness.” A king is His Highness and so the pope would be His Superstitionness.

  18. keith cook + / -
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “…if you denigrate another faith for having false or violence-promoting beliefs, you’re by proxy questioning your own faith.”

    This must ring in Popular Francis’s ears driving out any contradiction of thought and honest appraisal of his own church.
    It could be so simple,
    PF. We have had our violent past but we have seen the error of our ways, now we are just deviant and two faced with our lie.
    Extreme Islam, you should try it it brings it’s own rewards, power, status, fame, silk slippers. The hand waving though is a little tedious, OOS and all that.

  19. Christopher Bonds
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Well, I think the pope missed the boat on that one.

    • Scientifik
      Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      This Pope has a long track record of missing the boat, from embracing exorcism, to blasting human curiosity, the list goes on and on…

  20. Posted August 4, 2016 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    What was the reason for many horrendous crimes the 20th century communists committed against humanity? Was it because of their geopolitical interests, or was it the case that they truly believed in bringing about the socialist heaven?

  21. Glandu
    Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    My understanding of the situation is that he’s just trying to prevent catholics from attacking muslims. That’s diplomacy. That’s not science. If you analyze a diplomatic position to check wether it’s true, not trying to understand the underlying politics, you reach that kind of conclusion.

    Of course religions in general are not making people better. The opposite. But the pope is not speaking about that. He’s speaking about living together without having catholoc pogroms against muslims.

    There most be around 4 or 5 million muslims in my country. I don’t want a f$$$$$ng civil war. Especially after all the recent attacks. If you think it would be well if the pope was blaming islam and muslims in general, then you’re trying to make the situation even worse there.

    My muslim friends may be wrong or misguided, but shouting at them would be neither polite nor useful. When one of them tols me about ramadan, I did ask here if it was fun. I didn’t enter a useless rant against a backwards practice. That’s called diplomacy. That’s called being civilized. Everything ISIS is not.

  22. somer
    Posted August 4, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Dear Pope
    this says it all

    MEMRI – Arab Scholars clash during debate on ArabYouth Engagement with ISIS

    ***********
    Not only that – it doesnt take wahabbis to pronounce this sort of thing

    Plus even Saudi Arabia has a lot to worry about because even orthodox texts like the Shaafi schools Reliance of the traveller say that Justice Chapter o25.2 “the caliphate is a communal obligation (def c.3.2) just as judgeship is (because the Islamic community needs a ruler to uphold the religion, defend the sunna, succour the oppressed from oppressors , fulfil rights and restore them to who they belong.” The section 0.25.0 stresses that the Caliphate is obligatory. and obedience to him (it states a woman can not be the leader) is obligatory so long, although if he is not devout and corrupts the faith the muslim is obliged either to rise against him or flee to another country.” It also (Justice – Jihad section) says violent jihad is a communal obligation. 09.0=09.16 and 10 and 11 i.e. pp 599-609 “The Caliph makes war on Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, Provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practise, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax)… and the war continues (unless they do either).

    Even musical instruments are banned in Saafi school
    “Musical instruments of all types are unlawful” as is Dancing (Music song and dance Section r40.0=40.4 pp 774-776 Nuh ha mim Keller translation.

  23. Posted August 4, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  24. Posted August 4, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    How does Pope Frank explain 14 centuries of sectarian violence between the Sunnis and Shias? This conflict well predates any problems with Western colonialism and sure as hell has nothing to do with global worship of money. They can’t have a functioning economy of any sort (much less worship money) when they lay waste to centers of education and commerce in the name of Allah.


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