Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Meta-Poll and the Division of Church and State

Regular readers know how charmed the undersigned is by polls and surveys: not! But now there's the BBC World Islam-West relations survey that polled people in 27 countries and it might actually be considered a valid one since those questioned may actually influence the outcome on the ground.

Its most significant find was that an average οf 56% see that common ground between the Muslim and the Western world, could be found. That's a majority, but let's be honest, not one that could bear the epithet overwhelming, but still - let's call it realistic.

There's hardly a news outlet of any description that doesn't carry the results. So I thought to conduct a meta-survey of my own in an understated sort of way: a little poll of polls. I took five articles from different parts of the world and tried to see what stands out. No scientific conclusions of course and I don't propose to repeat their findings, so the links are included:

1. The original BBC World article ("Poll sees hope in West-Islam ties");
2. Today's Zaman from Turkey ("Global Public rejects 'clash of civilizations');
3. Gulf News ("Majority do not believe world is locked in a 'clash of civilizations');
4. The Muslim News from London (West, Islam tensions caused by 'political power', says poll");
5. Canada.com ("Many blame Islamic-Western tensions on 'intolerant minorities', poll finds").

I use the term positive where it means that common ground can be found. If a violent conflict is seen as inevitable, I use the term negative.

1. The original BBC World article breaks down 12 countries surveyed, but surprisingly has no interest in Egypt. It singles out Nigeria as an ominous example, theatre of frequent clashes of civilization. The figures for that country break down as follows: 56% see religion as the source of tensions, but still as much as 53% are positive, while 37% are negative.

2. The Turkish paper is the only one that breaks down the positive stand in Christians (51%) and Muslims (55%). Of the European countries surveyed it only finds Germany and Russia of enough interest to list. It also mentions Nigeria (see 1. for figures). It lists the U.S., but not the U.K., France and Canada.

3. Gulf News gives no breakdown at all and concentrates on the averages: 56% positive, 28% negative, 52% blame politics and 29% point the finger at religion.

4. Muslim News from London is a little more specific: it lists Lebanon, the U.S., the U.K., the Catholic bulwark Italy, multicultural flagship Canada, France, and Mexico as the positive outsider (69%). It also goes heavily down on the averages: 55% of Muslims surveyed blame politics, of the negatives 35% are Muslim while 27% is Christian. Religion is blamed by 26% and 58% point the finger at violent minorities.

5. The only thing that really stands out is that Canada is cooking the books in Nigeria: while the original poll says that 53% surveyed see common ground, Canada.com maintains that 63% say an accord can be reached (about what?!).

While the German Government is subsidizing English language 'high culture' website Signandsight for the express purpose of 'countering' the dominance of American influence of their own language, and hired a French editor to do so (oh, grow up!), the vilified right-wing transatlantic press is busy writing the finest articles on Islam that I've seen in a long time. While Europe is passively contemplating its own slow suicide by multiculturalism through fruitless debate based on personal opinion, America is analyzing the problem and is trying to solve it in a realistic fashion.

It may be anathema for those that seek a solution in an idealistic nowhere land, but Townhall.com's columnist Frank Pastore in a two part article "Islam is not the Enemy" (parts I and II) in part I sums it up as follows:

"Lastly, of the many things it means to be an American, it certainly means that you will fight for the political right of your neighbor to be theologically wrong–that’s the Constitution. An American believes that you can be any religion–or no religion–that you choose, as long as you don’t try to legitimize an immoral act in the name of your religion, such as polygamy, temple prostitution, or illicit drug use. Our Founders believed it best to be a Christian people with a secular form of government, and this hybrid is in large part evidence of the genius of this experiment in self-government. It is a testimony of our greatness that we would fight to protect the right of Muslims to worship freely in America. Let’s make the distinction from now on: We are not at war with Islam, but at war with radicals doing evil in the name of Islam."
Pascal Bruckner in his polemic "Enlightenment: Fundamentalism or Racism of the Anti-racists", a peculiar title if you don't know that multiculturalists see all that isn't relativist as fundamentalism, acknowledges that "secularism was written into the Gospels". Indeed: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s", Jesus Christ is quoted as saying. This has given rise in the very early Middle Ages to the Division of Church (Pope) and State (Emperor). It is a very interesting subject about which misunderstandings and confusion galore! I'd be grateful for any contributions of people in the know. At some point I propose to do a series of posts on the subject in an effort to establish some clarity.

In fact secularism can only have flourished in the Christian culture. In a recent Dutch study about the contemporary state of belief the conclusion is made that "... only a culture (the Christian) that makes such a division in domains (religion and state) ... can construct a word for such a notion (religion) [1]." In other words, other cultures do not know such a division, and secularism couldn't have come to fruition in any other culture.

Those who value the secular, the cherished neutral state: laïcité, Radical Enlightenment, a culture of life, had better come to value and defend Christianity. And this is why - in spite of it sounding perhaps crude or impolite to non-Christians, and multicultis whose only belief is their own fallacy - Frank Pastore is spot on when he states that: "our Founders believed it best to be a Christian people with a secular form of government" and that Christian morality needs to set the norm as the sole guarantor of peace and space for all.

The second piece of insight is an article that has come my way by means of an unlikely place, a digital 'cowboy' in the American Midwest operating a blog called 'Barking Moonbat Early Warning System', a political and literary gem! In a post "Islam Divided" he's relaying us an article "Sunni vs. Shi'a: It's not all Islam" by Ralph Peters, a former CIA intelligence analyst, from which I'll give you one paragraph as a night cap:

"We’re a fringe player in multiple zero-sum struggles: Persian Zoroastrianism in Muslim garb vs. Bedouin fascism; multiple insurgencies within the Sunni global campaign to re-establish the Caliphate; an interfaith competition to jump-start an apocalypse; an old ethnic struggle between Persians and Arabs; and a distinctly Zoroastrian struggle between good and evil (alert the White House)."

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