heretically sealed

I don't do Christianity any better than I do atheism (nor am I Jewish), so I may not be the right person to propose something like this.

But it occurred to me that the best way to honor Oriana Fallaci might be with some sort of alliance between religious and non-religious (or irreligous) people who respect our heritage of religious freedom, the Western pluralism, the Enlightenment tradition -- you know, that collection of stuff we call Western values -- against a tyrannical enemy which wants to destroy them.

Something along the lines of a Judeo-Christian Atheist Alliance in defense of the West?

It makes sense to me, and I say this as a longtime anti-Culture-War person who spent years dwelling on and kvetching about differences. We are already fully aware of what these differences are. To me it seems there's not much point in debating them. But even for people on either "side" who think the "Culture War" debate is of utmost importance, might it also be worth remembering why we are even able to have this debate? If radical Islam had its way, there wouldn't even be a debate between Judeo-Christianity and atheism. Christian, Jew, Buddhist pagan, atheist, agnostic -- all would be silenced. Atheists, agnostics, and Judeo-Christians might not agree on much, but when the right to be what we are is itself threatened, can't we agree that we have a common interest that overrides our differences?

Just a thought. There's no need to agree on the nature of eternity to know that spending it with people who've blown innocent people up to get there is neither the goal of Christians nor Jews, nor atheists. Nor agnostics, nor Buddhists, nor Hindus, nor Wiccans. (And probably not most Muslims -- especially the oft-silenced, moderate, variety who might be expected to find common ground with people who really don't want to kill them, and who aren't going to denounce them as "un-Islamic.")

According to her obituary, Oriana and the Pope talked by way of a papal audience, not long before she died.

On August 27, to be exact. Somewhat under fire (not sure from whom) the Vatican has offered an explanation:

"That the Pope should receive Oriana Fallaci and talk with her should not surprise anyone, unless they have evil intentions," Bishop Fisichella told the newspaper.

"She is an interpreter of our times, raises a sign of alarm on a danger, and asked to speak with the Pope in a reserved way," he said. "The Pope accepted. There is nothing more to it."


The meeting was of a private character, the bishop continued, "because that's as she requested it."


The magic of this is that there's no need to make a big deal out of "putting aside our differences" when the right to have them is what's under attack.

At this point in time, the right to be a heretic is a Western value.

(I'd even go so far as to call it a traditional value, but I don't want to get carried away here. After all, this is just a blog post.)

UPDATE (09/17/06): My thanks to Perry de Havilland at Samizdata for linking this post! I'm honored, and I appreciate the comments. New readers from Samizdata, welcome!

MORE: Donald Sensing's thoughtful post (via Glenn Reynolds) reminded me of the divisively politicized "separation of church and state" doctrine (which divides itself along predictable political lines favoring liberal over conservative religions), as well as the organizations devoted to wielding the separation doctrine for their own ends.

Yeah, in America and in the West, church and state are separate! But that does not mean that they have to hate each other, nor does it mean that the beliefe of atheism is not just as "separate" from the state as the beliefs of Jews or Christians. What worries me is that the people who kvetch about separation of church and state seem more preoccupied with separating Judeo-Christianity from the state than atheism. And in the case of radical Islam (which wants complete inseparability of church and state) there's hardly a peep from AUSCS.

Let's suppose that because there had been innumerable struggles between advocates of various diets, there was separation of diet and state, via a constitutional guarantee of freedom of dietary beliefs. I have no problem with fasting, but should advocates of fasting be given any advantage over vegans or carnivores?

UPDATE (09/20/07): I'm delighted to see that commenter Infidel's remarks as the Samizdata quote of the day:

Freedom, secularism, and rationality are not only Western values. Much of East Asia, eastern Europe, and Latin America are at various stages of embracing them. An alliance against jihadism could be very broad indeed. The Islamists themselves say that "all unbelievers are one people". Might as well take them up on it."
Absolutely right. (The things Islamists say about Muslims who disagree with them are similar too.)

posted by Eric on 09.16.06 at 09:14 PM


"Judeo-Christian Atheist Alliance"

Speaking as an orthodox Roman Catholic, I am all for this.

The defense of the West means all who love freedom, rationality and rest of what you refer to as "Western values" should find common ground.

We can work out our differences among ourselves in a civil fashion.

Our differences are minor in comparison to the threat we face from Islam as it is currently behaving.

So, when is the first meeting of the Oriana Fallaci Society going to happen?

Lexington Green   ·  September 16, 2006 10:35 PM

Sign me up for the Oriana Fallaci Society.

No, seriously!

Perry de Havilland   ·  September 16, 2006 11:07 PM
Lexington Green   ·  September 17, 2006 1:03 AM

Me too!

Spruance   ·  September 17, 2006 3:24 AM

Hell yes! Count this atheist in.

Keith   ·  September 17, 2006 5:36 AM

Hans here in Tx USA. I like the idea of honoring Oriana with an alliance of folks dedicated to honoring and furthering her work yet I'm somewhat stumped on how to go about doing so. There are already sites that document the horrific behavior of the Muslim world and to have a site that is merely a discussion forum or group blog seems to me to be pointless. I've reached the conclusion that Islam must be first partitioned off and banned from the West and then eventually eradicated off the planet. I can foresee a site dedicated to such an outcome to suffer innumerable DDOS attacks if not subjected to legal persecution as "hate" speech. So what would be the focus of "The Orianna Fallaci Society"? There's no point to dialogue with monsters dedicated to our destruction nor attempts to persuade the fifth columnists in the media or academia of their dhimmitude and de facto support of their self destruction. Again I ask, what would be the declared outcome of such a society?

TxBubba   ·  September 17, 2006 6:48 AM

Could it be that the term you're looking for is "secular"? Secularism and atheism are not synonymous. Religious people can be secular in the sense of accepting a society which is neutral on religious questions and in which their own religion shares a level playing field with other belief system. It's only the religious people who can't accept the existence of unbelievers as a permanent reality that are a problem.

Freedom, secularism, and rationality are not only Western values. Much of East Asia, eastern Europe, and Latin America are at various stages of embracing them. An alliance against jihadism could be very broad indeed. The Islamists themselves say that "all unbelievers are one people". Might as well take them up on it.

Infidel   ·  September 17, 2006 8:57 AM

'Infidel', that is an excellent comment and a very quotable second paragraph.

Perry de Havilland   ·  September 17, 2006 1:28 PM

Why not "Freedom Alliance", the Western value that both Judeo-Christians and Greco-Romans have in common? As a Humanist who has worked all of his life as a church musician, my own experience is that nearly all religious people and nearly all non-religious people are highly tolerant and notable mostly for their extreme normalcy. Our real enemy is fanaticism of any kind.

Robin D   ·  September 17, 2006 2:43 PM

Sure, most of the protesters will not realise what prats they are because they do not care or cannot understand what the Pope said, but I do not doubt each time this happens a few more intelligent/westernised Muslims are forced to confront the nature of Islamic civilisation.

Perry de Havilland   ·  September 17, 2006 7:13 PM

Heh. We all know how the Islamists divide the world into the "Dar al-Harb" (House of War, the lands which have not "yet" become Muslim and are therefore seen as being in a state of war with Islam) and the "Dar al-Islam" (House of Submission to the Will of God, which is what the word "Islam" literally means).

Maybe we should have our own terminology: the Dar al-Hurriyyah (House of Freedom) vs. the Dar al-Prat.

Infidel753   ·  September 17, 2006 9:26 PM

I propose a motto: Never submit.

pwyll   ·  September 17, 2006 10:08 PM

The magic of this is that there's no need to make a big deal out of "putting aside our differences" when the right to have them is what's under attack.

Yes, exactly. Most of us have a sound grasp of the notion there are lots of other people in the world holding a wide range of opinions and 'tis the nature of the beast that someone who thinks the opposite of what you think thinks what you think is nonsense and probably pernicious nonsense at that. There are too many Muslims who go psycho faced with this simple reality.

Ysabel Howard   ·  September 17, 2006 10:08 PM

Pwyll -- that's quite appropriate since the double meaning applies to the verb as well: "aslama" means both "to submit" and "to convert to Islam".

Defying the "prats" in their own language to really get the point across, there's a somewhat similar motto going around on some blogs: "Lan astaslim" (I will not surrender) in the Arabic script. Here is what it looks like:

Infidel753   ·  September 18, 2006 6:09 AM

I like the name Western Civilization Alliance better. Since the religions of infidels & unbelievers, or all those that aren't islam, I don't think any other religion should be part of the title (i.e. the Judeo-Christian Atheist Alliance). Something like a "No Surrender" Alliance is more apropos . . . if only there was an antonym for "Surrender" . . . ;^)

D. M. Depew   ·  September 18, 2006 12:07 PM

As a young Roman Catholic Priest, I too embrace this noble coalition of men of good will. How ironic is it that on the day the great lioness of human freedom, Oriana Fallaci dies, Pope Benedict XVI is burned in effigy by the "peacful" followers of Islam. We must unite, Christian, Jews, and all peoples who love the freedom to save our way of life.

Rob   ·  September 19, 2006 1:43 AM

I'll sign up for membership - count me in!

P.Andrews   ·  September 19, 2006 2:47 AM

Since Latin America is actually western..

waiv   ·  September 19, 2006 2:29 PM

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