Skip to comments.Lee Harris: The Pen, the Sword and the Pontiff
Posted on 09/27/2006 7:33:58 AM PDT by Tolik
In the European past, many men were given the choice between death and speaking the truth. Today, however, those who wish to speak the truth as they see it are confronted by a far more wrenching choice.
"An elderly Catholic nun has already been killed in Somalia, perhaps in retaliation for the pope's remarks; churches have been attacked in the West Bank. How is this papal stupidity going to play out in countries such as Nigeria, where the tensions between Catholics and Muslims frequently flare into riots and deaths? Or other countries such as Pakistan, where tiny Catholic communities are already beleaguered?"
"Papal stupidity" is strong language. But a few paragraphs before this harsh phrase, Madeleine Bunting has prepared us for it by arguing that "even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Islam teaches...that reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable. What unites all Muslims is a passionate devotion and commitment to protecting the honor of Mohammed." A Pope who did not know that "reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable" must, therefore, be guilty of egregious stupidity.
The argument underlying this attack may be summarized as follows: Morally responsible speech or writing must take into account the consequences that such speech or writing may have on others. If it is bound to inflame certain groups, to cause the death of innocent people, to increase tensions, and to endanger whole communities, then it is morally wrong to engage in such speech or writing, and anyone who does so deserves to be attacked by all morally responsible people.
The ethical issue that is raised by Madeleine Bunting is no trivial one, and it should gravely concern us all. Morally responsible human beings should always be aware of the consequences of both their words and their actions on others. Yet morally responsible human beings also have another duty, and it is an equally solemn one -- it is the duty that they owe to their intellectual conscience. For example, when Charles Darwin published The Origins of Species, he was painfully aware of the consequences that his revolutionary theory would have on other people. Indeed, this awareness led him into delaying the publication of his theory for many years, and his moral seriousness does him no dishonor. Yet, ultimately, Darwin knew that he also had a duty to his own intellectual conscience. He could not simply suppress his theory, because in his mind that would be suppressing the truth.
This leads me to the question that I would like to pose to Madeleine Bunting and all those who have attacked Benedict for his lack of moral responsibility in making the Regensburg address. Suppose that the eminent English biologist Richard Dawkins delivered a speech at the University of Regensburg in which he attacked supporters of Creationism and Intelligent Design theory as "ignorant boobs" -- words that he has already applied in them in a written article. Now, let us imagine that Christian fundamentalists all over the United States, outraged by this inflammatory language, went on a violent rampage. Suppose that they lynched an elderly professor of biology, and attacked biology departments at several universities. Suppose that teachers of high school biology went about in fear of their lives, while many simply quit their jobs.
What kind of article would Madeleine Bunting write about such a hypothetical incident? Do you think she would violently condemn Richard Dawkins, writing something along the lines of:
"Even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Creationists teaches...that reverence for the Biblical account of man's creation is non-negotiable. What unites all Christian fundamentalists is a passionate devotion and commitment to the inerrancy of the Holy Bible."
Would Madeleine Bunting refer to Dawkins' speech as illustrating professorial stupidity? Would she imply that he was personally responsible for the death of the elderly American professor of biology, and describe the brutal murder as having been done "in retaliation" for Dawkins' remarks?
What fools the American Creationists have been to write books, give speeches, and attend the tedious meetings of School Boards, when by rioting, murdering, and running amok, they could have earned the sympathy and respect of enlightened intellectuals like Madeleine Bunting. Instead of being ridiculed as "ignorant boobs," even such prestigious left-leaning papers as The Guardian would rally to their defense, reminding us all that for Christian fundamentalists the teaching of creationism is "non-negotiable."
In the European past, many men were given the choice between death and speaking the truth. Socrates was given this choice, and chose death. So did Giordano Bruno, Michael Servetus, and many others. Today, however, those who wish to speak the truth about Islam, as they see it, are confronted by a far more wrenching choice. A man who is prepared to die for his convictions may be effectively silenced by the thought that if he speaks his mind some unknown innocent may be killed in Nigeria or in Somali "in retaliation" for his words. Those who blame the man who speaks the truth as he sees it, instead of the man who commits murder in retaliation, would be wise to ponder well the moral consequences of their own words.
The author is a TCS Daily Contributing Editor and author of Civilization and Its Enemies..
Socrates or Muhammad? [Pope Benedict XVI] Joseph Ratzinger on the destiny of reason.
WeeklyStandard.com ^ | 10/02/2006, Volume 012, Issue 03 | Lee Harris
Posted on 09/25/2006 7:42:01 PM EDT by baseball_fan
...In the European past, many men were given the choice between death and speaking the truth. Socrates was given this choice, and chose death. So did Giordano Bruno, Michael Servetus, and many others. Today, however, those who wish to speak the truth about Islam, as they see it, are confronted by a far more wrenching choice. A man who is prepared to die for his convictions may be effectively silenced by the thought that if he speaks his mind some unknown innocent may be killed in Nigeria or in Somali "in retaliation" for his words. Those who blame the man who speaks the truth as he sees it, instead of the man who commits murder in retaliation, would be wise to ponder well the moral consequences of their own words.
Moral Clarity BUMP !
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This Islamic blackmail is frightening, and we must face it head on.
And facing it means we must end this thinking that when they blow up innocents at the marketplace that they are somehow "winning"?
The civilized West must be on the same page, along with our media who have given cover to these cults for decades, by painting them as victims.
Thanks for the article.
Christen = Christian
Long term consequences or short term? Church ethics must deal with long term consequences...
It abandoned Truth because it conflicts with the cherished axioms of the Left--and with the Leftist agenda--and because the Left prefers its paradigm of delusion, denial, and hubris (the stuff of tragedy) to Truth.
The Left abandoned and now dispises liberty, because it reveals Truth.
In abandoning Truth, the Left inevitably, if willingly, embraced mendacity.
All I gotta say is screw their so called prophet. I will never live under their retarded Sharia law. Screw all Islamic beliefs. Their are some good people who are Muslim (good despite Islam) but their thought system and "culture" is wacko, murderous and evil
Just who does the Pope think he is?
Only Leftist media is allowed to make "inflammatory and provocative" remarks. How dare he infringe on their sacred tabernacle.
Harris has brilliantly raised some very thought-provoking ideas. In many respects, this piece was absolutely revelatory.
Thanks for article. I've had the chance to now read the Pope's speech. I hesitate to comment due to my lack of knowledge and expertise in this area, but his emphasis as I understand it that narrow modern reason (radical skepticism) is leaving out the wider understanding of reason as including the reason of our Being (logos) seems central.
In this wider understanding of reason the church draws on Greek philosophical concepts of goodness and truth. He says there is an ongoing attempt to deHellenize the Christian religion (i.e. remove this Greek influence) by some which would make it more subjective and irrational.
So the danger as I understand it comes not just from radical Islam but also from radical skepticism which would undermine ultimately the very notions of goodness and truth and our very Being which is grounded on this.
This speech I assume again will be talked about for a very long time. Moral self-examination in light of goodness and truth is painful for everyone given we are all sinners. Hopefully Muslims and radical secularists would realize this Pope does not appear to be holding out a standard which he is not also applying to himself and the church, and as such is an invitation to dialgue.
Harris' point about Fundamentalists not rioting proves that even the much-derided Fundies are still committed to rational persuasion rather than violence.
I didn't know the Pope was Muslim? sarc/ - Is this writer saying the same as the muzzies - that we are ALL subject to Sharia Law, not just the muzzies???
Morally responsible speech or writing must take into account the consequences that such speech or writing may have on others. If it is bound to inflame certain groups, to cause the death of innocent people, to increase tensions, and to endanger whole communities, then it is morally wrong to engage in such speech or writing, and anyone who does so deserves to be attacked by all morally responsible people.
This is the most accurate summation of the actions, and only plans I've seen, by the libRats for 6 years...So, "morally responsible people" let's start attacking them
I've been saying this for years. It is a very real front on the war - one that we are loosing by laying down and begging forgiveness...Time the PC crap comes to an end and the muzzies are told once and for all that WE are not subject to Sharia Law...so, STFU
re your question. You need to re-read that paragraph again. Lee Harris is summarizing Madeleine Bunting's writing. Its not what he thinks, but a logical conclusion of what she says.
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