UN Enters The War on Terror – On Whose Side?
By: Nathan Tabor
After years of speaking out of both sides of its mouth on the issue of terrorism, the United Nations has finally staked out a clear position: Any negative portrayal of Islam will not be tolerated.
The General Assembly has just passed a resolution entitled “Combating Defamation of Religions” which deals exclusively with perceived slights committed against the Islamic faith.
What led the United Nations to this counterintuitive conclusion? The 2005 Danish cartoons which featured the prophet Muhammed. Additionally, the resolution alleges that the media have “negatively portrayed Islam” and painted Islam as a religion of terrorism.
Let’s pause for a moment to examine the tortured logic behind the resolution and the UN’s position.
For the past 30 years, Islamic terrorists have attacked civilian targets in Europe, Israel and more recently, the United States — to say nothing of the murderous violence committed by extremists in Muslim countries. Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and others have themselves claimed the label of “Muslim”; no one has thrust it upon them.
More to the point, our president and our government have taken great pains to clearly distinguish the United States’ war against the Islamic radicals from a more indiscriminate war against Islam in general. President Bush has repeatedly refused to lay the blame for terrorism at the feet of Islam. Despite the fact that Islamic extremists continue to maim and kill innocents, the United Nations insists that even to mention that fact is to tar all Muslims with the same gruesome brush.
The UN’s sense of priority is curious indeed. Why does the General Assembly continue to blame the victim? An easy answer would be that its “humanitarian” impulses nearly always lead the United Nations to do the wrong thing at the wrong time. However, there’s a bit more method to this particular madness.
Within the General Assembly, the Organization of the Islamic Council bears responsibility for the resolution. As Robert Spencer has noted in a column for FrontPageMagazine.com, the OIC occupies the largest voting bloc in the assembly. When one considers the relationship between society, faith and governments in much of the Middle East, these things begin to make more sense.
In the United States, the religious and political spheres overlap in places; devoutly religious men and women seek and hold political office, often appealing to loyalties of faith in doing so. Yet the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty and our deeply rooted Anglo-American tradition of civil government maintain faith and politics as independent spheres of influence.
In much of the Middle East, however, the two spheres are one and the same. In Iran, the mullahs are also the rulers. In Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud has maintained its grip in political power in large part due to the support of the ulama, or Islamic clerics. Therefore, a critique of Saudi or Iranian society is often interpreted as a critique of Islam itself.
The current threat of Islamist violence is ultimately rooted in the simple fact that encroaching Western culture represents a threat to the status quo in much of the Third World, where despots and religious extremists hold most of the political power.
Crass though it may be, the commercial culture of the West has the power to awaken the desire for a better life within those who have known only subjugation. The foundation of that better life — rule of law, free markets, a government that is responsive to its citizens –must necessarily be laid with the headstone of the old order.
In the meantime, this United Nations resolution must be seen and declared for what it is: One more futile attempt to stop the onset of progress in the places that need it most. The OIC does not speak for all Muslims, and it does not speak for the citizens of its member states. Let’s not give them the attention they so desperately demand.