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Good Imperialism, Part 2.

September 22, 2011 6:47 PM

In general, religions try to spread their ideas by persuasion of adults and indoctrination of youth and children, but sometimes they resort to force. The common element of all religions, in my opinion, is faith, that is, belief based on the believer's desire to believe, irrespective of any facts which might persuade him otherwise. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and other religions all attempt to propagate faith and conversion to their beliefs, but the only religion which has always systematically advocated force to spread its faith to the entire population of the earth, is Islam, the Arab religion of Muhammad. Historically, however, some other religions have taken similar action, sometimes most brutally, but temporarily.

Intermittently, Christians, beginning with the Roman emperor Constantine the Great in the year 380CE, began to enforce their faith and spread it throughout their empire. Later, the notorious Spanish Inquisition and the forced Catholic conversion of Protestants and indigenous tribes of the Americas are an additional example. Leftists, citing such examples, like to assert the moral equivalence of Christians and Muslims, but the fact is that forced conversions to Christianity have not occurred for many centuries, with a few rare exceptions allegedly perpetrated by non-Western Christians. (Jews, Hindus, and others have occasionally resorted to forced conversion also.)

There is a  Wikipedia article on forced conversion which I recommend; it contrasts the track record of Muslims to that of all other religions.

Is forced religious conversion actually a form of imperialism? My answer is: not always, but often. Typically, religious converts accept some of the trappings of the dominant religion, but also introduce their own elements. For an Islamic example, there is none better than Shia Islam, an amalgam of Persian and Arabic culture.

However, one need only look at the diversity of Christians throughout the world to observe that, even inside churches, but especially in the general culture, there is no universal Romanization or Hellenization of Christians. Muslims, on the other hand are almost always Arabized to a great degree, in Persia too. Islam which is not a form of Arab imperialism, and not more than superficial Arabic "cultural" imperialism, is rare.

Islam is the religion of the Arabians after the conquest of Arabia by military force by the followers of Muhammad. In much of the ancient world, the converted population adopted some form of the Arabic language, mode of dress, and especially legal restrictions and sanctions known as Shariah. The descendants of those converts, ranging from Morocco through Egypt and Syria to Iraq and parts of Iran are called "Arabs" today. Those who were not as thoroughly Arabized can be called Muslims (Turks are a good example) but not Arabs.

I will not bother to quote the Qur'an (Koran) here because the passages in the Muslim holy scripture which command Muslims to conquer unbelievers (infidels) known in Arabic as kafr (kaffir) is well-known and has been described by critics of Islam such as Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer, and by Muslims and former Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, and M. A. Khan. The general rule is that Muslims will inconsistently tolerate "people of the book" (Jews and Christians) who are willing to subordinate themselves as second-class citizens within the Muslim nation; otherwise kuffar (the plural of "kafr") are considered enemies subject to being killed. Recent history of the status of Christians in Muslim-dominated lands, including the US-"built" nation of Iraq, is testament to the willingness of many Muslims to carry out that imperialist tradition.

The greatest irony is that "progressive" leftists, who have no hesitation to condemn that which they call US imperialism, maintain a code of silence about the existence of Arab and Muslim imperialism. They might pragmatically make an exception for certain Muslim extremists whom they admit are terrorists (Osama bin Ladin is one) in order to avoid complete political rejection by most Americans, still angry over the destruction of the Twin Towers, but for the American Left (and indeed the worldwide Left) Muslim imperialism is unmentionable, as unmentionable as the holodomor, mass murder of Ukranian farmers by the Soviet regime, and as unmentionable as the historical fact that the "Democrat" political party was the party of institutional, government-mandated racism, until late in the 1960's.

For the "progressive" left, Arabic imperialism, opposed to the Great and Little Satans (the US and Israel)  would be "good" imperialism, if leftists were willing to discuss it. They are not willing. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the "Good Imperialism" series.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org christians conversion forced imperialism islam muslim muslims ]