Robert George says there are a lot of Muslims who love their neighbors, and we need to make common cause with them. He’s right! But how?
I find it completely plausible that in his personal interactions with the people he describes, George has encountered forms of Islam that both preach and practice love for neighbor. But that sort of Islam does not appear to have achieved a high level of public, institutional expression in the United States. Indeed, it is a reliable guideline that the larger and more prestigious an Islamic organization is, the more frequently it is quoted or featured in the major media, and (above all) the more money it has, the fewer degrees of separation one seems to find between that group and organized terrorism, or at minimum organized ideological networks that openly preach and practice hatred of neighbor. While there are individual voices standing against these organizations, for most of us there is no practical path to build alliances with “Islam” so long as these are the voices of individuals and not organizations. Those of us who have not had extensive personal experience with Islam (of any kind) are left without many practical options for making common cause.
This situation is, of course, a by-product of many decades of careful network-building and ruthless squelching of internal dissent by the militant enemies of civilization, funded by oil money. I would therefore submit for consideration the following proposition: that the first and most practical way most of us can make common cause with Muslims who love their neighbors is by doing more to oppose those who hate their neighbors. To do so is neither for nor against Islam, but it is emphatically to be for Muslims.
Few have suffered as much at the hands of Islamic hate groups as Muslims who refuse to participate in their hate; the reasons for this are obvious. Standing up to these oppressors is not only the right thing to do for its own sake, it is the only way to create space for the emergence of high-profile institutions representing an Islam that preaches and practices love of neighbor. The emergence of such institutions is, in turn, the only social condition within which most of us will be able to make common cause with that sort of Islam.
Moreover, this course of action does not require us to get involved in complex theological disputes. We need not resolve the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God (on which the divines of the Second Vatican
Council, as quoted by George, seem to be in some tension with passages like I John 2:23), or to what extent love for neighbor is at home with or at odds with “authentic” Islam, to know that the jackboot of the bloodthirsty oppressor ought to be removed, posthaste, by force if necessary, from the neck of the innocent.
Finally, it has the merit of being something that we have some idea how to do. Islam that preaches and practices love for neighbor is something that most of us do not have much opportunity to come into direct contact with. But we know, more or less, who the oppressors are, and it doesn’t take much imagination to think of ways we could be more effectively opposing them – if we decided that were something we have some responsibility to be doing.