Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Strange Advice From E. J. Dionne Jr. To The Pope

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E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post columnist, just posted one of the strangest columns I have ever read by a writer of his stature: We Need A Real Dialogue, September 19, 2006. In it he criticizes Pope Benedict for giving Islam a “real slap in the face” by including a criticism of violent Muslim conversions that that he read from a 600-year old document.

Perhaps the Pope was thinking of the conversions to Islam of the two reporters released last week by the Palestinians. Or perhaps he was thinking about the young Somali who was murdered a few days ago after converting from Islam to Christianity last year. Probably he was thinking that the free discussion of issues is a good way to approach a controversial religious matter.

I can’t fault the Pope for feeling that way, if indeed that was his mindset. Certainly at one time the Catholic Church took violent exception to conversions from Catholicism, but the Catholic Church changed with changing times, and now is a staunch supporter of religious freedom. Unfortunately, Islam is not.

Mr. Dionne thinks the Pope should alter his message to avoid offending Muslim fundamentalists. I interpret Mr. Dionne’s position to require the Pope to be a politician, not an intellectual religious leader. He thinks the Pope should consider possible offense that Muslims may take if their practices are discussed or criticized.

It is as if Mr. Dionne thinks that ignorant, uneducated, volatile, and violent Muslims, being fed hate items by their political and religious leaders, should have veto power over our Freedom of Speech (I capitalized “Freedom of Speech” to emphasize its revered and iconic status in the West).

We have already seen how easily we are cowed into appeasement by the Muslim “street.” Mr. Dionne’s employer, the Washington Post, chose not to publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammad, even though the Post has never been reticent about publishing things that are very insulting and demeaning to Christians and Jews. For example, “Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano has been widely depicted by the Post and other publications. Contrary to the Post and many other publications that did not run the Danish cartoons, Mohammad is depicted in many works of Muslim art (for example, riding Burak - just go to Wikimedia Commons), and the outrage against the cartoons was very selective and disingenuous.

So, Mr. Dionne, you who make your living because of Freedom of Speech think it necessary to advise the Pope, a man of learning and integrity, to bow to the wishes of the censorious and easily offended Islamists.

Do you think that they are susceptible to reasoned and logical religious argument?

How very strange.

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