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McCain's Discomfort

GOP presidential candidate John McCain says America is better off with a Christian President and he doesn't want a Muslim in the Oval Office.

"I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles in it," he said. "But I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith."
--from this news article

McCain is an innocent. Physically tough, able to withstand years of imprisonment, refusing to collaborate in any way with his North Vietnamese captors, he apparently is not tough enough to sit down and read, and begin to think clearly, about the tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam, which can only begin to be understood after one has thoroughly familiarized oneself with the Qur'an (read with an understanding of naskh, and with the ability to discern that even such seemingly innocent phrases as "fi sabil Allah" -- "in the path of Allah" --- are only superficially similar to such Christian phrases as "walk in the way of the Lord" because the "way of Allah" is quite different). If McCain were to spend just a few weekends reading "The Dhimmi" and "Islam and Dhimmitude" and "Onward Muslim Soldiers" and "The Truth About Muhammad" and "Why I Am Not a Muslim" and "The Legacy of Jihad" and "Infidel" and Ibn Warraq's essay comparing "Islam and Fascism," if he were to permit himself what may seem to some to be a luxury but is in fact a necessity -- the time to study Islam, and not through the medium of the small army of apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim (and here the dozens of Western scholars of Islam, their texts preserved and reprinted, will stand him in good stead, so that he need not repair to, need not rely on, need not trust, the eager to please, smiling, outwardly plausible, members of MESA Nostra, beginning with the espositos and the ernsts, and ending with the dabashis and the safis and the massads and tutti quanti).

If he had done it, if he had performed this task, he would never have been such an enthusiast for the continued squandering of men, money, and matériel in Tarbaby Iraq. He would have understood that the only outcome worth having, from the American point of view, is one that weakens the Camp of Islam, in and out of Iraq. And the way to weaken the Camp of Islam is to exploit -- not in this case by doing something, but by ceasing to do something, by ceasing to try to make Iraq into something it never was and never will be -- the pre-existing fissures, sectarian and ethnic, that Iraq offers on a platter. The Sunnis will never acquiesce in the new political (and therefore economic) order in Iraq. The Shi'a will never yield their new power, having suffered from Sunni discrimination, persecution, and mass murder over the entire history of modern Iraq, and, within Islam, over a much longer period, going back to the days of Ali and Hussain.

McCain, who has some of the right instincts, and senses that something is not quite right with Islam, has expressed himself foolishly. He should never have said, even if it is true, and even if we all know what he meant by this, that "this is a Christian nation" - unless he was immediately prepared to explain exactly what he meant by this (and it was neither offensive nor historically inaccurate, but only inoffensive if properly explained). Now he has opened himself up to CAIR's attack, and he will backtrack apologetically, and in so doing, say things that are not true, and are harmful.

What he should and could have said is that those who accept the principles of this country, its legal and political institutions, and are not intent on changing them, can potentially serve as president. He could then have added "I'm concerned that the contents of the Qur'an and Hadith suggest that Muslims have a duty to spread Islam until it dominates, that part of that duty includes the spread of the Holy Law of Islam, that Islam is a collectivist faith that does not recognize the spiritual autonomy of the individual, so that there is no right to apostasy, that the Qur'an contains many passages that are disturbing and that need to be examined further and their exact meaning -- the meaning given to them by Believers -- be clarified for our sake, for the sake of non-Muslims who know, up to this point, so very little. And I include myself, and the other members of Congress, and of the Executive. We have simply assumed, as has President Bush, that all religions are more or less the same. And that assumption may not withstand close examination of the evidence, textual and historical, of the doctrines, and the practice, of Islam.