The enemy of their enemies

Christianists begin to make common cause with Islamists over gay rights and evolution.

Naturally, the formal similarities and analogies between politicized Christian fundamentalism (both Protestant and Catholic) and politicized Islamic fundamentalism (both Shia and Sunni) have been the targets of substantial snark from the Enlightenment/secularist faction, to which I have contributed my share. But amid all the persiflage about “the Ayatollah Robertson,” I never really thought that the Bible-bashers had any actual sympathy with the jidhadists.

But increasingly the objective fact of their common opposition to secularism, freedom, and science is generating subjective and strategic sympathy, at least from the Christianist side. (There might well be Islamist voices calling out for a united front of true believers against modernity, but if so I’m not hearing them.) When Catholic officials start citing the execution of homosexuals under sharia not as part of polemics against intolerant Islam but as evidence of the consensus gentium against gay marriage and of the relative moral health of Islamic countries as against the corrupt West, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

And now we find that the Turkish creationist movement, allied with the forces in Turkish society that want to pull back from Kemalist secularism and modernism toward what they take to be a more traditional and Islamic way of life, is drawing enthusiastic support from the Discovery Institute (the main promoter of “creation science”). And the bad guys are winning: Evolution is no longer being taught in most Turkish schools.

The political situation in Turkey is hardly black-and-white; the Kemalist regime is also the regime that practices torture and viciously oppresses the Kurdish minority, and the semi-Islamist Justice Party draws support from the poor rural population that is being left behind in Turkish economic development. But the further drift of Turkey toward Islamism – encouraged by the intransigence of the Vatican and the French government against Turkish entry into the EU – would represent a great coup for the jihadists.

So it’s not false, though it is a little bit unfair, to say that the Discovery Institute is aiding and abetting Islamic terrorism.

Footnote Yes, there are Jewish creationists, too; one black-hat Member of the Knesset described evolution as a goyische bubbe meise – a Gentile old-wives tale.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “The enemy of their enemies”

  1. I'm not sure that it is fair to call the Turkish Justice Party "semi-Islamist." They claim to resemble European Christian Democrats, whom nobody would call "semi-Christianist." The Turkish situation bears some watching, but is a long way from scary. Remember, the biggest religious controversy in Turkey is women's right to wear headscarves, which is a no-brainer under our First Amendment.

  2. What is the purpose of this post? Is it to identify a real and growing coalition between extreme Islamists and conservative Christians? There is absolutely no such thing. I won't claim to speak for my Protestant brothers, but Catholic officials haven't "started to" favorably cite the executaion of homosexuals under extreme sharia. You have one bishop who wrote one letter that probably could have been more carefully considered. I haven't seen that letter as the "start" of anything. Was there some approving follow-up that I haven't heard of?

    The real question is would you prefer the Pope made more lectures in the spirit of the Regensburg lecture? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regensburg_lecture I highly doubt it. I don't think you're demanding that Christian religious leaders take a more bellicose line against Islam, are you? Maybe the Pope ought to call for a Crusade?

  3. Horseball, prominent right-winger Dinesh D'Souza wrote a whole book a few years back about how 9/11 was really the fault of American liberals trying to foist their godless, depraved and decadent culture on the good conservatives of the East, and arguing that the war on Islamist terrorism could be won by the American religious right uniting with the Islamists against their common enemy, Western liberalism. Mark is not just pulling this out of his a$$.

  4. My understanding of D'souza's argument is not that conservatives should ally with radical Islamists, but with what he refers to as "traditional" Muslims to defeat radical Islam:

    "We must give up on leftists in America and Europe who will never join our side and instead find common cause with the traditional Muslims who share many of our values and can actually help us defeat radical Islam." http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=N2JjND

    My understanding of his definition of a "traditional Muslim" is the mean practicing Muslim, who, as D'souza points out, does not practice polygamy, does not support beheading infidels, supports at least a reasonable degree of freedom of worship, supports democracy, and so on, even if he or she is not up to date on every jot and tittle of the social innovations that have taken hold in the West in merely the last few decades.

    I suppose you are free to reject his argument that the Left has no interest in defeating radical Islam, but I don't think that there is any alternative to distinguishing between the average Muslim as he exists and the politicized, radical ones. If not, you have few choices, none of which are plausible or are counterproductive. You can wait until Egypt and Indonesia become as secularized and enlightened as Sweden — which I think we can agree is not imminent. You can lecture Muslims that the "true" version of their religion is something more amenable to Western social values. (And you thought George W. Bush was arrogant, wait until we get in the business of proselytizing Muslims to the US Government approved version of Islam.) Or you can attack the whole religion in theory and as it is practiced.

  5. Come on, Horseball. You know bloody well what I meant. D'Souza wants Western religious conservatives to find common cause with Muslim conservatives against Western liberal decadence, thereby defeating the radical Islamists by destroying the object of their shared hostility. D'Souza thinks that if the West just stops being nice to homosexuals and starts censoring our media culture, all will be well between us and those fine "traditional" Muslims to which you refer, and radical Islamism will wither on the vine.

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