"An individual is not just the product of the forces around him. He has a mind, an inner world. Then having thought, a person can bring forth actions into the external world and thus influence it. People are apt to look at the outer theater of action, forgetting the actor who 'lives in the mind' and who therefore is the true actor in the external world. The inner thought world determines the outward action" (Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?)
The city of Boston – indeed all of America – is reeling from the acts of violence visited on the participants and spectators of the Boston Marathon. How could two young men – brothers, exiles from a country torn by strife – visit such senseless acts of violence on those who welcomed them to their shores, opened their schools and sporting events to them, and gave them freedoms unmatched in their own homeland? How could they cold-bloodedly orchestrate the killing of innocent men, women and children who had done them no wrong? Hadn't they been integrated into American life? Hadn't they sipped from the cup of freedom? Hadn't they enjoyed the good that is unique among the people of the world?
As we uncover more information about the brothers, it appears that living in the land of the free and the home of the brave didn't impact these young men in the slightest. If evidence emerging from social media sources is any indication, it appears that they were more influenced by the lethal worldview promoted by radical Islam. Unfortunately, though the writing is literally on the wall (the Facebook wall, in this case), too many Americans are unwilling or unable to acknowledge the truth.
This is because our popular culture has embraced notions of moral and religious relativism wholesale. We are terrified of appearing racist, or bigoted or xenophobic, so in the name of tolerance we affirm the notion that all moral claims are created equal. Everything is relative. All that counts is the sincerity of our beliefs. These ludicrous ideas blew up in our faces when two murderous brothers set off a wave of violence and terror that killed and maimed innocent people and shut down the City of Boston for the better part of a week.
Let's not kid ourselves. Our naive sense of tolerance is proving dangerous to our way of life, and our distorted sense of political correctness is shutting out important political and social discourse. The fact is, one idea is not as always as good as another, and all religious viewpoints are not equally valid. No one is advocating internment camps for Muslim-Americans or the denial of First Amendment liberties to those who worship Allah, but we should be able to engage publicly in the critique of Islamic fundamentalism without being shouted down as intolerant and hateful. Lord knows, the talking heads and enlightened elites have no problem airing their grievances about Christian fundamentalists, or any Christians, for that matter. We are mocked and condemned for our views on abortion and gay marriage, and we are chided as stupid, hateful, and racist. But these same individuals can't quite bring themselves to cast the same critical eye on the Islamic faith. Muslims get a free pass, no matter the severity of their anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-woman rhetoric, and no matter how grisly their crimes.
The indisputable fact is that America and the western world have enjoyed freedoms and liberties that are unique when compared to the rest of human society. These freedoms are the product of Judeo-Christian values that teach that all human beings are created equal, that the human race is special and distinct from the rest of the created order and possessed of inherent worth, value, and dignity because it is stamped with the image of the Creator; and that all men should be free to worship their Creator in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. The civil outgrowth of this philosophy is the belief that individuals should be accorded great liberty – and great protection – by their government. They should be permitted to work as they please, worship as they please, and live in peace with their neighbor. Their right to life should be protected as sacrosanct, no matter their age, size, gender, location, or cognitive capacity. This point of view is not embraced by Islamic fundamentalism. Instead, this religious point of view rejects the notion of religious liberty, treats women as second class citizens, and sees government as its agent for enforcing its religious dogma. This is a world view that results in the suppression – not the spread – of freedom.
Ideas do have consequences, as the recent events in Boston so vividly demonstrate. We in the West need to recognize these truths and acknowledge their implications on our way of life and our ideals. Unless we confront and debunk the very bad ideas that are being advanced against our way of life, we will not continue to stand. Some ideas are not just bad, they are evil, and we must be willing to say so.
Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty. He is also chairman of the Center for a Just Society.
Publication date: April 23, 2013