They want us to quit the Middle East, and the “to hell with them” hawks wouldn’t mind quitting; our enemies say democracy is incompatible with Islam, and the “to hell with them” hawks believe them.
Bush’s foreign policy has obviously needed adjustments: more of an emphasis on diplomacy and allies; a realization that creating democracy through military intervention is deeply problematic; a greater measure of prudence. Secretary of State Rice has made many of these adjustments in a neo-realist synthesis, taking the idealism of neoconservativism and leavening it with the practicality of realism. But what deserves preserving from the original Bush approach?
First, the contention that Islam is a religion of peace. Even if this seems a polite fiction, it is an important one. Influential Muslims believe it to be true, and it is crucial that they prevail in the Muslim struggle for self-definition. Rather than scorning them, we should be doing what we can to support the likes of King Abdullah of Jordan, who has launched an anti-terror initiative, and Iraq’s Ayatollah Sistani, who has been consistent in condemning terrorism. Whatever the theological niceties of Islam, religious cultures take on different colorations across time. Some people wondered whether Christianity was a religion of peace 300 years ago when rival Christian princes were warring over questions of faith.
Like Christianity, Islam has within it resources that can be used both to promote liberty and peace and to repress these things. The relative strength of these dueling resources depends in part on the political and economic conditions in which they exist. We should want to do all we reasonably can to create the conditions in which the positive elements within Islam flower.
Jack Wheeler has the entire play up here and writes:
The claim is being made that Voltaire wrote Mahomet as an attack on religious fanaticism in general and as a disguised attack on Christianity in particular. Nonsense. He dedicated the play to Pope Benedict XIV, who wrote back a letter of appreciation.
Voltaire knew his Mohammed and Koran. The characters of Seid and Palmira are taken from Mohammed's adopted son Zeid and his wife Zainab bint Jahsh. Mohammed's lechery over Zainab caused him to invent a Commandment from God saying that God ordered Zeid to divorce Zainab and that is was Divinely OK for Mohammed to marry his daughter-in-law. This is in the Koran, Sura 33:37.
The play is a direct assault on the moral character of Mohammed by Voltaire. This is a classic work by a classic Western writer and should be performed on Broadway, by drama clubs and college/high school thespian groups all over the country.