Are we at war with Islam? There are wildly conflicting signals, from both the Islamic world and those outside, who speak as if they know what Islam teaches. The appeals to “authentic Islam,” which is purported to be peaceful, reverent of the human person, and an allied faith against an increasingly secular world, have only led to more confusion. Christian authorities as well as political leaders often appeal to the “better angels” of Muslims worldwide, begging them to remember the inviolate nature of “innocents,” and the benefits of peaceful coexistence. But since there seems to be an impasse over the question of what constitutes Islam, let’s shift the debate and invent a new religion.
Imagine a creed dedicated to Mayhem. Those who follow this creed, of course, would not call it such, but would couch it in divine terms. The followers of this religion know their dogmas to be the only true path to eternal bliss. Their revealed precepts allow for no opposition, no discussion over terms, and no accommodation to the unenlightened ways of those who do not follow their path. There are no “innocents,” only heathens; there is no deference to reason, only force; no diversions into dialogue, only full-bore evangelization. Proponents of Mayhem may use their strength and weapons as they see fit, as blessed by the God of Mayhem.
In practice, ample bloodshed surrounds the evangelization of Mayhem. Having been offered a glimpse of the creed, one often has a split second to choose: Mayhem or Death, for accepting the former frees one from the latter, and brings him into the realm of Mayhem, whereby he is also now free to exert force on the non-compliant. Once Mayhem establishes itself, society splits itself in several ways: between believers and infidels (who lose their status as full-fledged citizens within the State of Mayhem), between men and women (who lose many of their most basic rights whether believers or not); and between those who glory in the sword (to be elevated as heroes) and the rest (whose orthodoxy within Mayhem may be suspect). Thus a hierarchy remains, and one of the greatest ways to prove oneself a loyal adherent to Mayhem is to shed blood for the creed: either his own or that of others.
Children are initiated into the cult at a young age by exposure to the shedding of blood. The wielding of arms and display of imperviousness towards death is praised, and the chanting of hymns of hatred is encouraged as soon as possible. Discrimination against non-believers is rewarded by the larger cult, and there is no end to the adulation for those who exhibit the most violent tendencies against those who shrink from Mayhem. A pantheon of hero worship is facilitated through many means—local sagas, the use of all media, and financial remuneration for blood-shedders and their families.
Most persons of good will would denounce the religion of Mayhem. Those who value human life, the freedom to choose a creed of one’s own, and the sensitivities proper to childhood would see the crushing of all three as a threat to civilization. Those who respect the fundamental equality between men and women would recognize a real “war on women” within the cult of Mayhem. No construct—divine or human—could justify such behavior in this century or any other, and wherever Mayhem is to be found, it must be denounced and fought.
Who will defend Mayhem apart from what passes for a revealed religion? And who will stand up and renounce all that is antithetical to the dignity of the human person? The distinction between these two groups should clarify how we proceed in the years to come.