Leaving Islam



The Day Principles Triumphed  

By Ali Sina

Garry Wills, an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University, in an op-ed that he wrote for The New York Times, blamed religious conservatism for the victory of the President Bush and ruefully titled his article “The Day the Enlightenment Went Out”.  

He argued that “ America , the first real democracy in history, was a product of Enlightenment values - critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence, a regard for the secular sciences. Though the founders differed on many things, they shared these values of what was then modernity. They addressed ‘a candid world,’ as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, out of ‘a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.’”  

Then he went on to say that “The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.”

Mr. Wills did not stop there. He even wrote: “Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain . We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.”  

He then equated America to the terrorists and the most despicable countries of the world, and said, “Often enemies resemble each other”. He continued with his harangue berating the President and said Bush has not been a uniter but a divider.    

“President Bush promised in 2000 that he would lead a humble country, be a uniter not a divider, that he would make conservatism compassionate. He did not need to make such false promises this time. He was re-elected precisely by being a divider, pitting the reddest aspects of the red states against the blue nearly half of the nation.”  

What Mr. Wills, and the rest of the brooding supporters of John Kerry missed was the most important dynamism of this election. Wills neglects the fact that Bush was elected because many secularists and many registered Democrats cast their votes for him. It was the support of this group that made Bush win and not the votes of the religionists. The number of religionists in America has not grown disproportionately since the election of Bill Clinton. The secularists did not vote for Bush because they suddenly had a religious epiphany and a conversion of faith into fundamentalist Christianity.   

The elections are never decided by the extreme left or the extreme right but by the swing voters. The question is why the secularists decided to vote for a religious president. The answer to this question is what eludes Mr. Wills and others who still wonder what happened.    

In one word the answer is PRINCIPLES.    

Mr. Wills says that the founders, who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, had "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind."    

This is the fundamental mistake of Mr. Wills and others who think like him. The opinions of mankind do not have to be respected. What have to be respected, is their human rights, their rights to life, to liberty and the right to express their opinion without being harassed or killed.    

If a group of people believes that it is their God-given duty to murder those who disagree with their belief, to subdue and humiliate people of other religions, to beat their women, to rape (or as they call it, give in “marriage”) girls as young as nine years old, to stone the single mothers or to behead the unbelievers, that belief does not have to be respected. Not all beliefs deserve respect. In fact, no belief in itself deserves respect. All beliefs must be scrutinized, weighed with facts and, if found wanting, they must be discarded. Beliefs and opinions are not sacred. What is sacred is human life and human rights.   


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