September 16, 2006
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.Wonderful.
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.)
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
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