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?