With Islam it is a War of Religion
Editorial for Il Foglio
September 5, 2014
While in Venice, La Serenissma, they idle away the time with the poetic, at least as it exists in the world of cinematography, in the Middle East we are subjected to lessons of epic proportions, both narrative and transfigurative, a mythical foundation of reality. In the West the operative key words are “tenderness” and “mercy”, a preponderance of devotees of [Italian author Giacomo] Leopardi and [Italian film maker Pierpaolo] Pasolini. In the Middle East, the key words are justice and violence, a lot of sex, marriage, children and serrated knives. This is the global situation in which Europeans and Americans live, even if they do not want to know this. And patrols of the avant-garde pass through the fields of Agramante where Discord is a way of making war, not necessarily a way of losing war.
Every model of life to be lived (when it is not meant to be a “lifestyle”) is in the name of God, whether one sees this or not. Our God became flesh, was crucified, humble and great, and, what’s more, we have abandoned him for our quest for “fitness”. The God who sets his face against us is a God who is the God of prophecy, of mysticism, of politics, of schism, the God of the infidels of time gone by (not for us but the Saracens), a God that none of them abandons, not the so-called moderates, nor the Saudi Wahhabis, nor the Shiites, not the Sunni caliphates, nor the “secularists” and the Brotherhood (they kill each other in deciding how to kill us with the greatest result).
“War on terror” or “war on terrorism” is fine, if it is used for political marketing, but in its definition, especially when it is rejected by those reluctant to take any action or by those who consider themselves humanitarians, there lies a colossal ambiguity. We had suspected this, and we shouted this as an horrifying truth when we published the photo, which was Caravaggioesque, of the chopped off head of Nick Berg, or when we told the story of Daniel Pearl, both men beheaded in the name of the Merciful One. But it is no longer a suspicion: it is an intolerable truth: this is a war of religion, of whose ultimate and cohesive ferocity, precisely religious, only one side is aware, their side.
The mother of the last reporter killed in the name of divine justice is said to be convinced that Islam was betrayed when on the order of a Caliph a young man who was brought up in Western culture and who put himself in the service of ISIS, dressed totally in black, an outfit probably made for a DJ, gripped the double-edged blade and chopped off the head of a man who shared his roots in Western culture. And nothing is forbidden to a mother in her grief who has been pierced without pity in the heart of that love that is hers alone.
But this is not the way it is, we know this. It is ideology to exorcise the rite of the enemy, to try to diminish it, to be blind in the face of its cruel reckoning of what is good in which we see the mirror image of our own impious evil. Bernado Valli continues to propose in an analytical way (because an analysis that is pedantic and impartial is often a mask for a contemporary ideological prejudice) that everything can be traced back to the mistakes of George W. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, that we have created, in an unfortunate or perhaps wicked manner, our own enemies, that the Baath party in Iraq was secular and now its defeated leaders are fighting along side the Islamic State—and this is our fault.
The argument goes on to say that those who believe in Mohammed the Prophet are in fact not our enemies in the name of God, but that in fact a great majority are our friends who would prefer not to have a Caliphate but rather an inter-religious dialogue. Good intention—that’s what it boils down to, for a politically correct commentator on the Left. But this is not the way it is. We know this.
We would like to think that the depiction of violent death in the desert is just some sort of macabre staging, a display of demonic and blind violence, instead of a searing playing out of things that allows its luminous smoke to flare up like lightning and to be seen for what it is. Together with Hollywood and television, we have substituted the epic with higher things, the other face of the Freudian unconscious, but the earth-shaking reality of ritual homicide, of death inflicted in the name of God, when a man becomes the lamb and the wolf the one who sinks his fangs into the lamb, when the fallen angel makes himself a living part of this world, this goes beyond our agnostic imagination, our blessed obtuseness that we see as liberal and grounded in commercial value, and burns all of our bridges. It is a cruel joke of intimidation in which the palm of victory in the battle is already won by Islam, the religion that has shut the mouth of a Pope of Rome, that has made an imperial and international power like the United States shy and reluctant to act.
I know I am saying something that is discomfiting, but one does not respond to this huge challenge and to this brutality by hallowing it with an appeal to the rule of law, or with an idea of an international police force, or with a denunciation of violence. The only response is a violence that is incomparably superior.
[Source. Translated by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla]