My college Greek tutor used to tell the story of his college Greek tutor, who would end every class by stepping to the blackboard, writing down two or three points, and saying, “Gentlemen, this is the irreducible minimum you should take away from this class.”
Let me emulate that example and offer the irreducible minimum you should take away from the news today. It’s from the indispensable Andy McCarthy over at National Review Online. His column is called “It’s about Sharia,” and the irreducible minimum I’d like to highlight is this striking proposition:
Please, commit that to memory. Think of it every time someone tells you that Islam means “peace” or starts making excuses for the latest chapter in the annals of Islam’s war against the West.
For that’s what we’re talking about here: Islam’s war against the West. It’s not Islam’s misuse of commercial airliners, its penchant for sawing off the heads of people they disapprove of, or even its profound lack of sympathy for bacon. No, it’s Islam’s fundamental, essential incompatibility with foundational Western values like free speech, the separation of church and state, and equality under the law. Such things are not simply missing from Islam: they are positively repudiated by Islam, a fact that is ingredient in the very word “Islam,” which, pace the multiculturalists, means not “peace” but “submission,” i.e., submission to the will of Allah.
Many well-meaning people, I know, will shudder when they hear this. Islam is “a great religion.” How could it be fundamentally incompatible with all those good things we like to celebrate in the West? Women’s rights, religious toleration, not to mention Chateauneuf-du-Pape and kindred potations. Aren’t we beyond all that hawkish, “divisive” talk about the “conflict of civilizations”? Very possibly — if wishes were horses, which they are not; ergo, etc. Cf. Matthew 13:43: “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Andy’s column is a gloss on an important speech that Newt Gingrich delivered at the American Enterprise Institute a few days ago. Newt’s key insight is that we are engaged not in a war against terror but a war against Sharia, i.e., Islamic law. Would that our current masters in Washington had as clear-eyed an appreciation of the nature of the conflict in which we are immersed. “Gingrich,” Andy writes, “is going about the long-overdue business of resetting our understanding of the civilizational jihad that has been waged against the United States for some 31 years.” He continues:
“The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome.
Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system. . . .
Sharia, moreover, is anti-equality. It subjugates women and brutally punishes transgressors, particularly homosexuals and apostates. While our law forbids cruel and unusual punishments, Gingrich observed that the brutality in sharia sanctions is not gratuitous, but intentional: It is meant to enforce Allah’s will by striking example.”