There is a horrifically evil force in the world today,

and that force is the movement that seeks to spread Islam by the sword. Pope Benedict XVI is the spiritual and moral leader of a great religion the members of which that movement would either forcibly convert or murder. Recently, he called out that evil, related it to what plainly is its origin, and declared it “incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”

All of this is too much for E.J. Dionne. “Why did Benedict take his shot at Islam?”, Dionne asks, as if he didn’t read the Pope’s words (and as if he’s been asleep for the last five plus years). And “why didn’t he pause to acknowledge that at various mements in history Christians, including Catholics, have themselves been guilty of inappropriate uses of violence?” Maybe because he was focused, as Dionne should be, on the evil that confronts us today, not the evil that was current 500 years ago. As I said, Pope Benedict is the moral and spirtual leader of a great religion that (along with the rest of us) is under attack. He’s not an editorial writer for the New York Times. I hope that, unlike Dionne, most Catholics are looking for moral clarity, not mindless moral equivalency, from their leader (unfortunately, the Pope has flirted with the latter in his subsequent “clarifiations”).

Dionne contends that “those who are hoping for a liberalized Islam should take Benedict to task” because “religious dialogue will not progress very far if it starts off with a slap in the face.” Captain Ed puts this argument to the sword (so to speak):

Any liberalized version of Islam has to afford people the right to criticize Islam without resorting to intimidation and violence in response. How can Islam reform when the entire world enables its temper tantrums? Does appeasement ever work? One would hope that a newspaper columnist, operating under the freedom of the First Amendment, would understand that. To reframe the issue on Dionne’s terms, does he believe that silence in the punditry would result in a more open government, or a more oppressive and abusive one — and if he believes the former, then why does Dionne bother to write his column?

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