Amillennialist

Archive for March, 2007|Monthly archive page

Revelations from deluded, self-proclaimed, false prophets are never harmless

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2007 at 3:23 PM

From a thread to a post in which Hugh Hewitt tries to make the expression of concerns about a Mormon candidate off-limits.

It is worth noting that LDS “arguments” for why theirs is a “Christian” faith boil down to:

“Christians disagree on doctrine too,”

“What’s in a creed?”

“You called me a name,”

“Don’t persecute me, I’m just like the prophets!”

“Your criticism is violating my Constitutional rights!”

“Gospel, schmospel, what does it matter? We vote the same!” and,

“We believe the Bible, and all our doctrine is in perfect harmony with it, even the stuff about the father being a resurrected, flesh-and-bone, copulating sire of spirit children who forget their preexistence and, by the way, christ and the devil are spirit brothers.”

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Hugh’s apparent lack of discrimination…

Hugh, is there no belief one could hold that would automatically disqualify him or her from political office?

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Eichendorff wrote…

“Vorpal [sic] If you persist in calling members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints non-Christians…you are a bigot.”

OR, Vorpal can read and think logically.

Anyone who has read the Bible and the Book of Mormon realizes the two are incompatible, for YHWH does not contradict Himself.

Since He does not, what right does a mere mortal have to do so? How can one call himself “Christian” but make Christ a liar by adhering to heresy?

If all it takes for Truth is to have a self-declared prophet claim divine revelation, then bring on Shari’a!

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cyndu writes…

“By your standard, anyone that reads the Bible itself realizes that the books inside it are incompatible. One book says ‘by grace ye are saved, not of works’, and one book says ‘faith without works is dead’. One book says, ‘destroy the city’, and one says ‘spare the city'”

My standard? Should not deity be able to avoid contradicting itself?

This demonstrates the imprudence of taking passages out of context (or trying to speak authoritatively on doctrines of which one has no understanding).

We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.

Unlike Islam (in which naskh–the doctrine of Abrogation–is an actual doctrine), three and one-half millennia of God’s people have possessed, studied, and expounded the Scriptures and have not found God contradicting Himself.

Christ declared that “the Scriptures cannot be broken.” Are you claiming that He taught contradictory (and therefore, false) doctrines?

“Also by your standard and approach, Christ would have been heresy because He didn’t teach what the prevailing religion taught at that time.”

A patently false statement which calls into question your willingness or ability to accurately reflect what I wrote. Never did I state that Mormonism was heretical because it “didn’t teach what the prevailing religion taught….”

Christ spoke only the words His Father gave Him; He spoke only the words He had revealed to Man. To equate the Messiah’s speaking the word of YHWH with a self-proclaimed, latter-day, heresy-peddling prophet is sacrilege.

“…you’ll first have to establish what orthodox is, not merely beg the question.”

That it is a question for you at all demonstrates the problem.

Jesus said, “Father, Your word is truth,” and “I AM…the truth.” Any “revelation” that contradicts His words is heresy; any that adds to them is superfluous.

“…Of course all prophets were self proclaimed….”

Christ said that His Father testified of Him. So, no, not all prophets are self-proclaimed.

“…it’s this nagging problem of which prophets are true.”

And we know if someone is from the true God by comparing their doctrines with those which have been [already] “delivered to the saints”.

It is this test that makes the Book of Mormon heretical.

“…if we use Christ’s test, we’ll be OK, and we also won’t fall pray to the Shari’a .”

Nor the Book of Mormon. You test a prophet by comparing his/her doctrine with the word of Christ.

Any teaching contrary to His is false.

So, Hugh, would Christ be a “bigot”?

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Spontaneous Order

My comments were directed only to those topics I specifically addressed.

Nowhere was I referring to whether or not Romney’s faith disqualified him from serving as president.

I certainly appreciate the positions he’s taken (lately) on several issues. I also respect him for the support I’ve heard expressed for him by prominent national figures.

My main concern was the misrepresentation of Mormonism as a Christian faith: Islam also says it “believes in Jesus”, but their Jesus — just as the Christ of Joseph Smith — is not the historical Son of God testified to by the Prophets and Apostles.

Neither should sloppy logic/reading be used to try to make Washington and Lincoln justification for secularism or Mormonism.

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Eichendorff wrote…

“It is bigoted to tell others what they believe. Latter-day Saints are the experts at what they believe, and they believe in Christ.”

Yes, a false, ahistorical Christ.

“One does not have to believe in the Nicene Creed to be a Christian for two reasons:

1. There is no basis for the creed in the Bible

2. There were lots of Christians before the creed was even formulated, including Jesus himself, all the apostles and all Christians in the first two or three centuries A.D.”

“Bigoted” means “intolerant.” “Intolerant” means unwilling to approve, recognize and respect, or bear something.

Stating what someone says they believe is making a factual statement, not intolerance.

The Nicene Creed is one summary of the Bible’s teachings on the nature of the Trinity. If you cannot agree with those doctrines, then you are rejecting Christ’s revelation about Himself.

For this reason, you can in no meaningful sense be called a “Christian.”

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And/but/so wrote…

“Nice, if inadvertent, illustration of the close-mindedness of the evangelical fundamentalist… My religion is true; your religion is “false.” My God is the true God, your god is a false god. I know God, you don’t know jack. My brother could beat up your brother….”

If the “evangelical fundamentalist” defines a religion as true or false on the basis of whether or not it is their own, then they err.

If the “evangelical fundamentalist” defines a religion as true or false on the basis of whether or not that religion teaches the Word of Christ faithfully, then that EF is on solid ground.

Rather than make ad hominem attacks against an entire segment of the population, why not demonstrate your devotion to the Christ of the Bible and speak His pure, unadulterated, and unvarnished Truth?

You won’t, because then you’d have to reject your Book of Mormon.

“For the love of (all our) God, please grow up! If you are so sure you are right, then you can wait until the afterlife to gloat.”

Then it will be too late. If a person is in error, then it is the God-given duty of the believer to correct them.

And a different Christ means a different God.

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cyndu wrote…

“you attempt to shift the burden to a Mormon to explain why we don’t believe the way you believe.”

Since the Prophets, Apostles, and Messiah spoke from God long before Joseph Smith came up with his own “revelation,” the burden of proof must be on the Mormon.

“But you are not the standard, and what you believe isn’t the standard, and neither is what I believe. The standard is out there, and God knows it, and we’re ALL trying to find it and live it….”

It is unsurprising you’re still “trying to find” God’s standard, since you reject the Incarnation of it, His Son. His words should be the standard by which all doctrine is measured.

“I’ll take on that burden and answer your main point in this way. We don’t exactly believe what you believe because (1) we think Joseph Smith articulated a better and more internally coherent and compelling explanation of the facts of Christianity….”

Better than Moses? Better than Christ? Better than Paul or Peter or John? What is “internally coherent” about contradicting the Son of God?

Jesus said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

“If Smith was right….”

That’s a pretty big “if,” since his “revelation” contradicts the Word of God. Anything he taught outside of the Prophets and Apostles is adding to the Word of God, and (since you say you believe the Bible) you know the penalty for that!

If you want to honor the Christ of the Bible — the Christ of history — say what He says without adding to or taking away from it.

“Polygamy? One Mormon’s answer: Biblical precedence. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. When commanded or allowed by God. Need revelations to know when OK – same way Abraham knew.”

When did YHWH command polygamy? When did Christ command polygamy? The One in Whom you claim to believe said, “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.”

“Mormon explanation is a better and more compelling…than anything traditional Christianity believes.”

Since the historical Christian faith is derived from the Scriptures themselves, you are claiming your “revelations” are “better and more compelling” than the very Word of God!

“Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect”, and “Where I am, there may ye be also.” (Was he just dangling a carrot that we’d never catch?)”

Ever hear of the Ten Commandments?

And, since you also believe the Bible, you must recall, “If righteousness could be gained by the Law, Christ died for nothing.”

“Sorry if it offends you, but Mormons believe in a God so loving and powerful that he has no issues with or impediments to constructing a system…If you say God can’t, you believe in a God that isn’t all powerful. If you can God wouldn’t, then you believe in a God that isn’t all loving.”

You misdefine “loving” (and misrepresent God) because rather than speak His words, you advocate (and agitate for) a false prophet.

How is it “loving” to water down the Commandments? How is it “loving” to make God’s holiness sin? How is it “loving” to lie about Christ to the doom of your hearers?

If instead of trying to justify heresy, you were to actually read the Scriptures and allow them to speak for themselves, you would see that the Bible contains both Law and Gospel.

The Law makes very clear these two facts: If you sin, you die. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself.

The Gospel boldly states that Christ died for sinners.

“We don’t believe in the definition of God by committee that took place in Nicea….”

The Nicene Creed (Apostles’ and Athanasian too) is simply a summary/exposition of the teachings of Scripture.

“Mormons believe in direct revelation.”

So did Mohammed.

“Christ said the Holy Spirit would tell you all things whatsoever you shall do.”

Really? He did say that the Spirit would “…teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Not “will say.” Clearly, that to which Christ was referring is found in the works of the Apostles.

[Isn’t it interesting that apologists for the Tyranny of Allah also try to claim this verse as testimony in support of their own pernicious Heresy?]

Finally, for those upset that Christians refuse to characterize Mormons as “Christians” (a dissonance shared by Muslims who want to claim YHWH and their allah are the same god), the president of Brigham Young University (Rex Lee, What Do Mormons Believe? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992] summarizes Mormon teaching by stating that the three persons of the Trinity are “not… one being”, but are “separate individuals.” In addition, the Father is regarded as having a body “of flesh and bone.”

One cannot contradict Christ and expect to be called a Christian.

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Diomedes wrote…

“Isn’t it to Christ and God to say who is Christain and who is not?”

He did say: “If you hold to My teachings, you are truly My disciples….”

“By all means doctrine is open to debate.”

Endless debate in which resolution is impossible because one side refuses to use any sort of meaningful, objective criteria for determining truth (the Bible)?

“To you, your religion, to me, mine, and anyway, how dare you criticize my faith regardless of how often my one holy book contradicts my other holy book!” is not an argument.

“Let’s not presume to take unto ourselves God’s perrogative.”

I agree we cannot see into people’s hearts. But we are not talking about that.

Jesus taught:

“…by their fruits you will know them,”

“Your Word is Truth,”

“test the spirits,” and,

“If anyone adds anything to [the words of this Book], God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

How can a Mormon claim to be a Christian when so much of their doctrine is obviously heresy? Here is another example:

“Latter-day Saints regard as ‘a central and saving doctrine’ that the ‘Father’ was once a man and is a man having a body of flesh and bones. ‘God is a glorified and perfected man, personage of flesh and bones.’

“Elohim (Hebrew name for God) is ‘the name-title of God the Eternal Father, the Father of the spirits of all men and women.’ Elohim was once a human on another planet who attained the status of deity.

Elohim sired every single person in the premortal existence before the earth was created.”

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Dan…
Good post analyzing Professor Hewitt’s defense of Mormonism.

Have you given any thought to critiquing Imam Hewitt’s extenuation of the Religion of Peace?

Since he first offered CAIR a national platform for their propaganda on his program, he’s slowly come to realize there is a problem within Islam, but the last time I checked, he still stubbornly defines the religion in terms of its Apostates and Heretics, rather than its god and founder and its Majority of Extremist Sympathizers.

This lack of religious “discrimination” doesn’t bode well for the defense of the West against the Tyranny of Allah, but perhaps it explains Hugh’s willingness to hop into bed with Mormonism.

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Eichendorff continued…

“…the Bible itself makes no claim to being the final arbiter. God is the final arbiter, and the Bible is not God. The Bible doesn’t teach anything resembling the Trinity, nor does it teach salvation by faith alone (see James 2).”

Of course, to support your heresy, you must now attack the sufficiency of the Scriptures. I thought you believed in the Bible too?

“The Bible” is not a single entity, but a collection of the writings of men who spoke as the Holy Spirit directed them. Christ testified to the sacred nature of the Old Testament writings, and the Church recognized as Divinely Inspired the Apostolic texts.

What does Christ say?

“Father, sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”

“If you hold to My teachings, you are truly My disciples.”

The wise man is the one who “hears My words and does them.”

“Test the spirits” by His word.

He says that the Word of God is useful for correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness….”

So, yes, the Bible is the only guide by which Man can determine the truth about God.

As for the Trinity, that doctrine is found throughout Scripture. Jesus said, “I and My Father are one,” He referred to the Holy Spirit as God, and He commanded His people to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

And on the topic of salvation, yes, the Scriptures do teach that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

James says a bit clumsily what the rest of Scripture makes very clear: “a man is saved by faith apart from works” (or do you only cite those passages that [appear to] serve your error?).

If you read James you’ll see that he is making the distinction between a claimed faith and true, saving faith. Whom does he cite as an example? Abraham. “Abraham *believed God*, and it was *credited to him as righteousness*.”

Jesus said a good tree produces good fruit. Good works are the result of saving faith in Christ, not the reason we are saved. In other words, “We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.”

“No evangelical has the authority, given of God, to declare anyone else’s Christianity or lack thereof.”

An atheist with a fifth-grader’s reading comprehension can determine whether or not a person is accurately reflecting what a text states.

You’re basically arguing for a one-sided, self-centered moral relativism that goes something like this: “What I say is true is true, but what you say isn’t true unless I like it!”

Either one teaches what the Bible teaches, or one does not.

You can’t contradict Scripture and expect to be considered a Christian. (And besides, if traditional, historical Christianity has it so wrong that you need a whole new prophet and book — just like Islam! — why would you want to identify with us in the first place?)

“Legitimacy as followers of Christ comes from God alone….”

Your “legitimacy” comes from obeying the doctrines of Christ, Who said, “If you love Me, obey My commands.”

He also offered severe warnings against teaching heresy to others.

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A couple more thoughts…
@ ccwbass,

“It’s amusing, yes, but it’s also frustrating, because if there’s one thing we DO know from books like “Mein Kampf” and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” it’s that ignorance and hatred….”

So Christians who state the obvious fact that Mormon doctrine deviates [from] and contradicts the Biblical texts are now Nazis?

The demonizing of those who disagree! Goebbels would be proud!

@ Eichendorff,

“I, along with every other Latter-day Saint, view the Bible as the word of God and I believe everything written in it. What I have little regard for is your interpretation of the Bible.”

Misinterpreting the Scriptures’ until they mean nothing at all just so that you can espouse your heresy guilt-free is not “interpretation,” it’s “deception.”

[Besides, it’s not about “my” interpretation. What does God say?]

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Spontaneous Order

“I do care that you can say something outrageous like accusing me of belonging to a “sociological cult” based on the fact that you disliked the tone of two commenters on this blog.”

In Sociology, “cult” has a very specific definition. I doubt the application of the term was due to any poster’s tone, but rather Mormon practice.

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Another for Spontaneous Order….

“Amillenniallist proves my point. He defines “Christian” as “anyone who interpretes the Bible differently than he does.”

No, that is the definition used by at least one of your co-religionists, but that is not mine. Of course, you must misrepresent my position [as] idiosyncratic so that you can dismiss it as irrelevant.

At least have the decency to accurately state what I believe.

“Obviously its not bigoted for him to think Mormons aren’t “Christians” under that definition. Heck, I’ll even admit that I’m not a “Christian” under that definition. Most Christians aren’t.”

[Using Christian error and heresy to justify a totally pagan perversion!]

The fact that a multitude of Christian denominations exist means that all or most teach and practice some false doctrine; this does not mean that all are not “Christian.”

When I use the term I am referring to those who can, among other doctrines, affirm those espoused in the three major, historical Christian creeds: the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian.

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Another spontaneous reply…

“Did Christ teach that you should treat people as second-class citizens if they have different religious beliefs than you?”

Of course not. But He spoke the truth. He corrected false doctrine. He was intolerant of lies, sin, and hypocrisy.

[And critiquing doctrines which claim to be consistent with the Bible by comparing them with — the Bible! — is hardly making anyone a “second-class citizen.” That sounds like an attempt at ad hominem and to play the victim.]

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Old Whig wrote in an excellent post…

“Several of the above posts seem to say that if we elected a Muslim, he might do anything at all and plunge our country into Sharia Law or some other such tyranny. The fact is that the people making such claims either do not understand the structure of our constitutional government or they do not trust it to work. The structures in place would absolutely prevent our institutions from being replaced with systems incompatible with the People….”

Yes, the Constitution is still obeyed. There’s no massive federal government, Judicial Tyranny, infringement of the Right to Bear Arms, limitation of free speech, undeclared war….

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Old Whig wrote in a less-stirring post:

“Islam believes that Jesus was a Prophet, but specifically denies Jesus’s divine sonship. Nowhere has Mormonism denied Jesus’s godhood or filal relationship to God. You comparison of Mormonism to Islam is therefore incorrect.”

You are misrespresenting my position. I was not equating Mormonism with Islam because it shares the same belief in the deity of Christ, I was comparing them in that both claim to worship the same god Christians do. They do not.

“As touching on your other assertion, by what standard do you claim that “the Jesus” held in reverence by the LDS faith is not the same as that testified to by the Prophets and Apostles?

I say that you have no reasonable standard by which you make that claim, and that is it instead rooted in unreasoning bigotry.”

I noted above several Mormon doctrines which are contrary to Scripture.

I say that your assertion is rooted in ignorance and is, therefore, a bad guess.

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Eichendorff added…

“Our resident millennialist…”

Amillennialist.

“…has no clue about what Latter-day Saints believe. Mormonism’s view of Christ cannot be further from the Muslim view.”

Where did I write that Mormonism and Islam share the same beliefs about Christ? I did state that both claim to “believe” in (a false) Jesus.

Have you been doing more of your “creative reading”? :)

“Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that he lived a perfect life, that he performed the Atonement, that he was resurrected, and that salvation comes only through him, as it is explained in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. Now if that is not the Christ that our millennialist believes in, then he is the one who is not Christian.”

If you believe about Christ only what the Bible teaches, why do you need any other “divine revelation”?

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Eichendorff persisted…

“Give me one example of anything in the Book of Mormon that contradicts anything in the Bible.”

See above, or is that not Mormon doctrine?

Rather than engage in ad hominem attacks, why not honestly state what your “revelations” teach and how they differ from orthodox Christianity?

The falsehood of your doctrine does not depend on whether or not your critics can cite chapter and verse, their falsehood depends on whether or not they contradict the Word of Christ.

Rather than admit your extra- and contra-Biblical heresies, you imply that your doctrines are God-pleasing (by the way — and I know this will cheer you — Islam does the same thing!).

The Book of Mormon states in 2 Nephi 25:23: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

But the Word of Christ states plainly:

“no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Galatians 3:11).

“‘Cursed be every who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them'” (Galatians 3:10).

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13).

“In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“…we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28).

To claim that God’s saving sinners requires first their obedience is clearly contrary to Scripture. “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Gal. 2:21).

Therefore, the Book of Mormon’s teaching on salvation clearly contradicts the Bible. It teaches a false gospel (and you know what that means: Paul said that anyone who preaches a false gospel should be eternally condemned).

As I noted in an earlier post, we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.

Good works are a result of saving faith in Christ, not the cause of our salvation. Eternal life is entirely His gift to us in Christ.

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TheChair wrote…

“I can’t wait to join such friends in helping elect an excellent conservative Presidential candidate. I expect him to fight and win the war, to pack the Court with originalists, to cut my taxes and keep it low, to preserve marriage and my right to bear arms, to lead the fight against abortion, and to restore the rule of law in our immigration process.”

I’ll vote for him when I see him.

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Lowenberg added…

“The Mormon Church teaches that shortly after the time of the disciples, the Christian church apostatized and was not restored until Joseph Smith’s vision in 1820.”

Just like Islam.

“Therefore, Mormonism considers Christianity an enemy because it teaches “false” doctrines.”

That too is just like Islam.

“Because Mormonism holds that Christian doctrines lead me astray spiritually, the Mormon church views Christians as deceived people.”

And that is, ironically enough, just like Islam.

“Thus, Brigham Young taught that Christians were unbelievers; they may falsely claim to believe in Christ, but the truth is “not one of them really believes in Him.”

And that is — you guessed it! — just like Islam.

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Old Whig asked…

“The Nicene Creed is the opinion of a committee on the Nature of the Trinity, based upon several preconceived assumptions, none of which can be found in the Bible.”

That is false, and you misunderstand the nature of the Nicene Creed.

“Your argument is circular; it points back to itself as its source of authority.”

Since it appears you did not read my argument, perhaps you’d like to rescind that evaluation.

“Since you neglected to answer Eichendorff’s second point, I must assume that 1) you forgot or, 2) you cannot answer it.”

See above.

“The LDS accept the Bible, and reject the creeds. The Christians who lived prior to the formation of the creeds were able to live without them. Why do you imagine we cannot?”

You write of the Creeds as if they were some sort of incantation. The Creeds are summaries of Biblical teachings.

“…isn’t the extra-biblical Nicene Creed “adding to” the Bible? If so, are you not in violation of the same scripture in Revelation that you hold against the LDS?”

No, it is not. It is a summary of some of the Bible’s teachings.

“If not, then why is its acceptance a requirement to be considered Christian?”

Accepting the Nicene Creed is not a requirement for being a Christian, but since its statements are derived from the Scriptures, a Christian will affirm its doctrines as true.

“I find this very interesting: Evangelicals claim the Bible as justification for “correcting” LDS beliefs, but the Bible only charges Christians with correcting fellow Christians.”

Really? Where does it say that?

It does say, “Speak the truth in love,” and, “Go, and…[teach] them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

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All you need to know about Eichendorff

He wanted one contradiction between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. He got (among other examples of false Mormon doctrine):

2 Nephi 25:23: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

But the Word of Christ states plainly:

“no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Galatians 3:11).

“‘Cursed be every who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them'” (Galatians 3:10).

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13).

“In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“…we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28).

“If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21).

Yet he perseverates, “The Book of Mormon teaching on salvation by grace is in strict harmony with the Bible.”

And that tells you all you need to know of Eichendorff’s willingness and/or ability to tell the truth.

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BG noted…

“…You can easily see the common ground and also the differences with other brands of Christianity….”

Similarities in doctrine do not make one religion the same as another. Islam’s apologists in the West often emphasize “common ground” with the other “Abrahamic faiths,” though their creed and god couldn’t be more diametrical to the God of the Bible.

You would find that a Muslim could note several similarities with your faith. I doubt you would claim that makes you Muslim.

You would find that a Jehovah’s Witness would also find similarities between their creed and yours. I doubt you would claim that makes you a Witness.

And the same would be true of any other monotheistically-inclined pseudo-religion.

If you have a different god, you are not Christian. If you have a different Christ, you are not Christian. If you have a different gospel, you are not Christian. If you have a different revelation, you are not Christian.

“Mormons believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as do most Christians.”

A different father, son, and holy spirit.

This is just one example of when a Mormon says “we believe the same thing you do,” they are using the same words, but with very different meanings.

To claim that (according to one summary), “God the father used to be a man on another planet; he became a God by following the laws and ordinances of that God on that planet and came to this world with his wife; they produce spirit offspring; these spirit offspring, which includes Jesus, the devil, and you and me, are all brothers and sisters born in the preexistence; and the preexistence spirits come down and inhabit babies at the time of birth and their memories of the preexistence are lost at the time,” is contrary to the Biblical texts. It is heresy.

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Gunlock Bill unwittingly and inadvertently both missed and made my point with:

“Therefore, Christians(at leaset Amillennialist and Lowenberg) consider Mormonism an enemy because it teaches “false” doctrines.

That is just like Islam,” [etc.]

On missing the point of the comparison:

Both Mormonism and Islam were founded by self-proclaimed (but false) prophets. Both claim to “believe” in the Christian God and Jesus, yet both teach different gods and different christs. Both claim that Christianity lost the truth, and that their religion has it. Both claim new, divine revelations while still “respecting” the Bible. Both teach different gospels.

At least Mormonism doesn’t teach jihad.

On making my point:

Using the same (or similar) words while applying to them very different meanings does not make Mormonism a Christian faith. If it did, Islam would be a Christian faith.

As you (no doubt) gleefully point out, superficial similarities between religions do not make them the same religion.

Neither does calling different gods by the same name make them the same god.

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Eichendorff continues…

“The manner in which Lowenberg and millennialist exhibit arrogance and bigotry toward Latter-day Saints…”

Pointing out false doctrine as heresy is “arrogance and bigotry”? Apparently, you consider name calling and ad hominem attacks “logic.”

“…Christians…stand condemned bwfore God and are in need of sincere repentance….”

For pointing out heretical attacks on His Word!

“It is time for all Christians to look to Jesus for the example of how to treat others.”

Did Jesus remain silent when men falsely claimed to speak for God?

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BG adds…

“I do not have time right now to look up all of the Bible scriptures that indicate that Grace is a necessary but insufficent condition for salvation.”

Your understanding of “grace” is not God’s.

Grace is not a “condition,” it is His undeserved love for us sinners.

“Works and ordinances are also required.”

The Bible states that a person must keep the *entire* Law if they wish to be saved, and that if we claim we have no sin, we lie.

Good works are only the fruit of saving faith in Christ, works that He prepared in advance for us, works that He causes us to will and to do. They follow our salvation — they are not the cause of it, nor do they contribute to it.

The only Biblical text that might at first seem to support the idea that our works save us is from James. As I noted in an earlier post, at first glance he appears to argue that works are necessary for salvation.

Upon considering his entire argument and its proof (Abraham), it is clear that he is contrasting a false, expressed faith (“even demons believe, and shudder”) with saving faith (“I will show you my faith by what I do”).

True, saving faith in Christ will produce good works.

“If necessary I will provide the best scriptures later.”

Since you’re attempting to support heresy, that may prove a vain pursuit.

“It will become very clear very quickly that salvation requires works and ordinances.”

It should become very clear very quickly that:

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law,”

“…if righteousness could be gained by the Law, Christ died for nothing,” and,

“…to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Abraham and James).

“…the Bible that has been interpreted to support the Protestant (only some) bias toward salvation by Grace alone.”

That is God’s bias.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG continues…

“The Bible as we have it today is only a small part of the things that Jesus taught the Primitive Church.”

But, as far as we know, it is all God saw fit to preserve.

“The Catholic Church was formed about 300 AD and preserved as many of the writings, teachings and traditions that it could.”

That is false.

The Christian Church (all those who believe in Jesus) was formed at Pentecost. Those early believers recorded and preserved all they could of the Apostles’ writings, but the Old Testament Canon was already set by the time of Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church was not formed until centuries later.

“However, Mormons would maintain that much was lost during the extentsive percecution of 60-68 AD and later about the time the Book of Revelations was written (about 90-100 AD).”

And what is your evidence of this? Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

If it was lost, how do you know it ever existed?

And even if you could know, how could what was lost (assuming you’re thinking of the Book of Mormon and other “revelations”) so wildly contradict intact Scripture?

“It is also clear that during the first 100 years factions had arisen in the church and influenced doctrine (i.e., Greek Philosophy).”

And heresies were refuted using the Word of God, just as He said should be done.

“By the time of the Nicean Council there were many competing factions and doctrines on many issues.”

And the Standard used to sort out confusion was the Word of God.

“The Book of Mormon is a record of a colony of Jews and thier prophets who left Jerusalem during the time of Jeremiah and came to America. It is a separate record and not an addition to the Bible.”

And so were Qur’an, Sira, and Hadith. Revelations delivered by angels to lone, self-proclaimed prophets can be troublesome.

If the Book of Mormon really is a divine revelation completely in harmony with the Bible, why do you need it at all? It is redundant!

If it adds something new (it does) or contradicts that which has already been revealed (it does), then how can it be divine in origin?

The Bible provides very stern warnings against saying what God has not said. No one is to add to or take away from what He has revealed.

“There is ample evidence of the Jews and other tribes dispersing.”

Like the Bible?

“Other colonies may also have records that are not yet discovered.”

Which says nothing about whether or not Joseph Smith preached a false messiah. He did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lizzie contributed…

“Do you honestly think any of you will get the other to evaluate religious principles honestly when we are all baised to begin with?”

Bias doesn’t necessarily mean one is unable to recognize new, relevant evidence and revise their positions in light of that.

I hope that all will be persuaded toward affirming the Christ of the Bible, but even if no LDS here does so, at least some in our audience may benefit from the discussion.

“For heaven’s sake, people have been killed, crucified, raped, and burned in the name of religion.”

We’re talking about Mormonism, not Islam (unlike Islam, the actions you describe are *not* “divinely” mandated).

“All the arguments here have a taint of that sort of hate in them.”

Though I disagree with those here who claim to worship the Christ of the Bible while misrepresenting His person and work, I would not believe any of them are violent or hateful.

“Why don’t you all agree to disagree, and then go about being the best person you can be in a positive way?”

I hope that if we must disagree, at least it will be with the recognition by our Mormon friends that theirs is a different god.

For example, God the Father cannot be eternal, unbegotten, uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (the Bible) and also have been a flesh and bone man copulating to produce spirit children unable to recall their preexistence (Mormonism).

“Let the LDS believe the principles they hold sacred without ridicule. Let the Protestants abide by the truths they hold near to their hearts without ridicule.”

I agree.

[Is it not ridiculous to claim complete “harmony” with the Bible but then contradict it so flagrantly?]

“Let us all go forward and not backward, in making the earth a better place to live. Let us solve problems together, and help those that are less fortunate thus emulating our professed Christianity.”

How does lying about God help anyone?

“Then, when Christ comes, he may be pleased that we have all served him in harmony in spite of our differences.”

What makes you think that allowing lies about Him and His Father to go unchallenged for Harmony’s Sake will please Him at all?

“When truth can’t be pinpointed, or when it is argued over incessantly, do any of you really think that makes God happy?”

That’s the problem. Truth has been “pinpointed.” It is Christ.

Argument over truth is the fault of those in error.

“Don’t you think he will come down here and straighten it all out?”

He already did, two thousand years ago.

When He straightens it out next time, it won’t be too pretty for those on the wrong side of His Word.

“Well, then, let’s let Christ do the fixing and the judging.”

He did, He is, and He will — through His Word.

“What would you do, if you found out the business associate you respect, was one of your foes here in the thread?”

That would be awkward. :)

“Surprisingly, all of us may be quite likeable in real life.”

:)

“There is much good in all of us. Let us focus on that instead of trying to destroy one another.”

When did “testing the spirits” by the Word of God become “destroying one another”?

You are kind.

Sometimes Love requires speaking unpleasant truths.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

omi wrote…

“…ANYONE who professed to believe in Christ and tried to follow his teachings. Even those who didn’t follow orthodox theology were termed “Christian” heretics. At that time, those opposed to the LDS Church started the meme “Mormons aren’t Christians,” using the term in its new, non-standard, exclusionary sense.”

Is “Christian heretic” much better than “not Christian”?

Either way, there is a problem.

“We LDS were puzzled and hurt by this attempt to convince people that we don’t believe in Christ.”

My intent is neither to puzzle nor hurt.

I have been making the point that teaching false doctrine about Jesus makes for a false christ.

Contradicting *any* part of the Scriptures is contradicting Christ, since all of it is His Word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lizzie also observed…

“There’s not a religion on the planet that doesn’t have a checkered past, or present for that matter. There are even prophets, or chosen ones in the Bible that had “checkered” pasts. David, Jonah, Peter, Paul/Saul?”

“There are even” seems to indicate some may not have been. All of them (and us!) are sinners who justly deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment.

“…no one has the right to judge, except the only one who was actually sinless.”

“Do not judge,” does not mean, “allow lies about Me to go unchallenged.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Someone tell Eichendorff…

“An ad hominen arguement is not a logical arguement but simple name calling.”

“…why stoop to name calling and hateful speech?”

“Let us agree to disagree, but not insult one another.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If this was directed to me…

“Look it is obvious to everyone on this thread that you have a very narrow definition of Christianity that represents less than 8% of the people in this country. Further, many of that 8% are not anti mormon.”

How is, “Believe and teach what Jesus taught” “narrowly defining” Christianity?

Is “make up whatever nonsense you want no matter how wildly it contradicts Christ’s Word,” a better definition of Christianity?

If you don’t like my definition, perhaps you should take it up with Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, obey My commands,” and, “If you hold to My teachings, you are truly My disciples.”

That many “Christians” teach and practice false doctrines does not make Mormonism’s heresies true.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG assumed…

“The anti Mormons on here have defined a Christianity so narrow that it excludes all Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Church of Christ, and the Orthodox based on official denominational doctrine. However, based on actual beliefs held,the anti Mormon definition of Christianity also excludes large percentages Protestants and Evangelicals as non Christians.”

First, I am not “anti-Mormon.”

Second, since it appears you consider me other than “Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical,” etc., what am I?

Third, you are not addressing the point. Playing with a survey to argue that many American Christians know little or nothing about their own religion in no way demonstrates the truth of your own doctrines.

“I also expect the above denominations and individuals would not take to kindly to being called non Christians.”

Only you are calling them non-Christians.

And though they may not like it, if they are in error, then they need to fix it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG followed up with…

“Your narrow definition of Christianty also excludes Lutherans as they believe in salvation by ordinance (works).”

Lutherans most definitely do *not* believe in salvation by works.

Perhaps you’ve not heard the phrase “Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura.” It originated (as a phrase, the teaching is from Scripture) with the Lutherans. No one could be further from a doctrine of salvation by works.

It is the Lutherans who observe that “we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.”

In other words, true faith in Christ will result in good works; those works in no way contribute to our salvation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair commented…

“If you are not anti-Mormon, then you should be pleased to have them at your side as natural political allies. For example, Utah still the reddest of the red states.”

I’m happy for all political allies. As I noted above (somewhere), I am looking for the best president we can get. I do not exclude Mitt from consideration because he is Mormon.

“Meanwhile, you are presented with a puzzle. If Mormons aren’t Christian, then why do they generally behave that way?”

Lots of people behave in what might be called a “moral” or “Christian” way. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything about whether or not their doctrine is true.

And how can it be considered “Christian behavior” to lie about Christ and His Father?

“Is it your belief that the Nicene Creed and its offshoots are the doctrinal sine qua non of Christianity whereas other doctrinal differences amongst other Christian faiths are to be overlooked?”

Every word from the mouth of God matters. There should be no doctrinal divisions within Christianity.

If the word “Christian” is to mean anything, it seems reasonable to begin with “Whom do you say I am?”

The Jesus of history is the Jesus of the Bible. Mormon teachings about His person and work — spirit brother to Satan, preexisting spirit child of a flesh and bone father — are contrary to His Word, so how can it be said that a Mormon even knows Who Jesus is?

“Do you remember that Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and many others, justified human slavery by appeal to the Bible?”

That doesn’t mean their appeal was intellectually honest. Anyone can appeal to the Bible. Even the devil does it.

That is one example of people misusing Scripture to justify sin.

“Southern pulpits were aflame with biblical justification of slavery.”

That should read, “…pulpits were aflame with attempts to justify slavery by misusing the Bible.”

“Were you aware that evangelical Christians in Missouri of the 1830’s participated in violently running Mormon settlers out of their state in large part because Mormons were an anti-slavery voting bloc? Which group was the more Christian?”

One group used violence to support tyranny, the other blasphemed the Creator of the universe.

“Isn’t loving one’s neighbor, as Christ taught, the truest signal of one’s Christian credentials?”

How is it loving to destroy one’s neighbor by preaching a false christ and a false gospel? Saint Paul said that “…if anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be anathema!”

“And again, shouldn’t you be pleased to have Mormon brothers and sisters as your natural political allies?”

I am pleased for political allies, but we cannot be called “brothers and sisters” in the Biblical sense, for the Father of my Lord is the YHWH of Scripture, yours is the resurrected, flesh-and-bone, copulating delusion of a false prophet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

gunlock bill wrote…

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God…great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

But Jesus says, “…false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

And the Apostle Paul writes,

“I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

God the Father flesh-and-bone? Not Jesus’ Father. He said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gunlock Bill commented…

“But Jesus says, ‘…false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.'”

“This implies that there will also be TRUE prophets…”

Using your exegesis, Jesus was also implying “there will also be TRUE christs.”

Of course, He was warning His people to avoid being deceived by liars speaking in God’s name but who did not say what He has said.

How are His people to discern truth? By comparing what is preached to what His Word teaches.

“…otherwise Jesus would have told that “there would be no prophets”

Continuing with your logic, it should read: “…otherwise Jesus would have told that ‘there would be no christs.”

Of course, that is unnecessary except with those trying to justify heresy.

“That is why He added the part about “by their fruits ye shall know them”

And what kind of fruit is it when one lies about the person and work of Christ and His Father?

For such trees, something to consider:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

“I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? …Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.”

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

“And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair resorts to logical fallacies…

“Amillenialist has so far called Mormons liars, deceivers, blasphemers and anathema.”

I did a quick search of this thread. It appears that…

I have not called you a “liar.” I have noted Christ’s warnings against those who lie about Him.

I have not called you a “deceiver.” I have noted several of Mormonism’s false doctrines.

I have not called you a “blasphemer.” I have noted that Mormonism blasphemes Christ and His Father.

I have not called you “anathema.” I was noting what Paul said regarding those who preach a false gospel, which Mormonism does.

Rather than try to make me the issue, misrepresent my statements, or make yourself a victim, why not address the point?

To do anything else would be less than “Christian” behavior.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair added at his own site

“…’amillenialist’ cites a few biblical verses and his understanding of them, then says, “you see, you don’t believe the same, so you aren’t Christian.” The implication is that Mormons are merely to be tolerated, at best, in the political sphere.”

You are not presenting my statements accurately.

My positions are not the issue, so your attempt at an ad hominem to distract from what is in question is intellectually dishonest.

Neither is it truthful to mischaracterize my statements as “[my] understanding of them,” since “my understanding” is that of the historic Christian Church (and it is that because it is the testimony of the Scriptures).

Also, my argument has never been, “You don’t believe like me…,” it has been, “You are not saying what God says” (another subtle attempt at an ad hominem).

Finally, “tolerating Mormons” has never been my “implication.” I was only addressing several of your co-religionists’ assertions that Mormonism was a Christian religion.

In light of several of the heresies demonstrated in that thread (including contradicting Christ’s own testimony on His person and work), it should be obvious that Mormonism cannot rightfully claim to be worshiping the God of the Bible and His Christ, but the vain imagining of its false prophet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Great points by Tom

“I can’t agree that choosing not to vote for someone because of their religion is a form of bigotry. The essential definition of religion is that it is a system of beliefs. One’s beliefs are the predicate for one’s actions. Examining a candidate’s beliefs is relevant to evaluating how they will act.

“The dogma that it is wrong to consider a candidate’s religion is based on the hazy notion that religion has no real necessary connection to one’s actions…

“…if someone thinks that Romney’s beliefs will lead to bad policy actions, regardless of whether the belief is part of the Mormon religion, it is completely appropriate not to support him. There is no belief-neutral action. Evaluating candidates necessarily requires evaluation of their belief systems and hence their religions.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tim nails it with…

Old Whig: “The fact is that the people making such claims either do not understand the structure of our constitutional government or they do not trust it to work.” [Saturday, March, 31, 2007 1:52 AM]

“Umm…I’ll take “don’t trust it to work” for a million kajillion dollars, Old Whig. Kelo, Clinton’s little war in Bosnia, the current usurpation of generalship by the 535, emanations of penumbras, the Clinton Gun Ban, the current HR 1022, willful failure to enforce federal immigration and employment law, federal court approval of required public school classes in Islam, Supreme Court rulings based on foreign laws and practices….

“The Constitution only works to the extent that competing interests are forced to obey it, and bringing any such force to bear is often a practical impossibility.

“Article 6 of the Constitution, much like many other parts of the Constitution, applies to the GOVERNMENT. The GOVERNMENT is prohibited from establishing a religious test for any federal office. INDIVIDUAL VOTERS are still allowed (see Amendment 10 for further details) to establish whatever personal rationales they desire in their selection of the candidate to whom they will give their vote.

“Thus I disagree with you and emphatically state that it is MORALLY indefensible to refrain from demanding that any candidate publicly state how his beliefs will affect how he will govern me. Anyone who willfully purchases a pig in a poke is a fool.

“Hmmm… also this: “The man audacious enough to attempt such foolishness would be rewarded … with … John Locke’s Fifth Right, enshrined in the Second Amendment.”

“For the moment (see HR 1022 above), the general US citizen who meets certain requirements is allowed to own, at best, any number of semi-automatic firearms. Insurrection against the US is literally bringing a pop gun to a combined operations mechanized warfare fight, and, as such, is a guaranteed loser. The 2nd Amendment ceased to perform its intended function of allowing citizens a “last defense” against assaults by their government certainly no later than the 1934 National Firearms Act. The “best” that an armed uprising of citizens could possibly hope to achieve at this date is to turn all of the US into Baghdad, and that is assuming that the military decides to obey orders to attack their fellow citizens. At worst, the military would refuse or splinter, and the Republic, as a result, would die. The 2nd Amendment will not protect you anymore. If they come for your guns, you WILL give them up, or they WILL kill you.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A look back at Old Whig

“With this in mind, how appropriate is it, in our system of government, to ask a man how his religion might affect his ability to govern? Such a question 1) is MORALLY unconstitutional and, 2) need not be asked in light of the safeguards mentioned above. If any controversy should arise, methods are in place to deal with the offender. Unfortunately for my Evangelical friends, the difference of one’s religion from theirs is not an impeachable offense.”

Nice attempt at making criticism of Mormonism off-limits.

I fully expect to see Islam using this one soon.

“A side note to Dan: the quest for political office, however unlikely to succeed, does not equate to a “headlong, reckless pursuit of power.” Simply because you may not win does not mean that to try is wrong, for the attempt in the face of seemingly certain defeat is the stuff of Dreams and Songs. Perhaps your dreams have been stifled too long, your song silenced…”

That’s an odd, pseudo-psychoanalytical ad hominem overgeneralization.

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Revelations from deluded, self-proclaimed, false prophets are never harmless

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2007 at 2:23 PM

From a thread to a post in which Hugh Hewitt tries to make the expression of concerns about a Mormon candidate off-limits.

It is worth noting that LDS “arguments” for why theirs is a “Christian” faith boil down to:

“Christians disagree on doctrine too,”

“What’s in a creed?”

“You called me a name,”

“Don’t persecute me, I’m just like the prophets!”

“Your criticism is violating my Constitutional rights!”

“Gospel, schmospel, what does it matter? We vote the same!” and,

“We believe the Bible, and all our doctrine is in perfect harmony with it, even the stuff about the father being a resurrected, flesh-and-bone, copulating sire of spirit children who forget their preexistence and, by the way, christ and the devil are spirit brothers.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hugh’s apparent lack of discrimination…

Hugh, is there no belief one could hold that would automatically disqualify him or her from political office?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eichendorff wrote…

“Vorpal [sic] If you persist in calling members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints non-Christians…you are a bigot.”

OR, Vorpal can read and think logically.

Anyone who has read the Bible and the Book of Mormon realizes the two are incompatible, for YHWH does not contradict Himself.

Since He does not, what right does a mere mortal have to do so? How can one call himself “Christian” but make Christ a liar by adhering to heresy?

If all it takes for Truth is to have a self-declared prophet claim divine revelation, then bring on Shari’a!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

cyndu writes…

“By your standard, anyone that reads the Bible itself realizes that the books inside it are incompatible. One book says ‘by grace ye are saved, not of works’, and one book says ‘faith without works is dead’. One book says, ‘destroy the city’, and one says ‘spare the city'”

My standard? Should not deity be able to avoid contradicting itself?

This demonstrates the imprudence of taking passages out of context (or trying to speak authoritatively on doctrines of which one has no understanding).

We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.

Unlike Islam (in which naskh–the doctrine of Abrogation–is an actual doctrine), three and one-half millennia of God’s people have possessed, studied, and expounded the Scriptures and have not found God contradicting Himself.

Christ declared that “the Scriptures cannot be broken.” Are you claiming that He taught contradictory (and therefore, false) doctrines?

“Also by your standard and approach, Christ would have been heresy because He didn’t teach what the prevailing religion taught at that time.”

A patently false statement which calls into question your willingness or ability to accurately reflect what I wrote. Never did I state that Mormonism was heretical because it “didn’t teach what the prevailing religion taught….”

Christ spoke only the words His Father gave Him; He spoke only the words He had revealed to Man. To equate the Messiah’s speaking the word of YHWH with a self-proclaimed, latter-day, heresy-peddling prophet is sacrilege.

“…you’ll first have to establish what orthodox is, not merely beg the question.”

That it is a question for you at all demonstrates the problem.

Jesus said, “Father, Your word is truth,” and “I AM…the truth.” Any “revelation” that contradicts His words is heresy; any that adds to them is superfluous.

“…Of course all prophets were self proclaimed….”

Christ said that His Father testified of Him. So, no, not all prophets are self-proclaimed.

“…it’s this nagging problem of which prophets are true.”

And we know if someone is from the true God by comparing their doctrines with those which have been [already] “delivered to the saints”.

It is this test that makes the Book of Mormon heretical.

“…if we use Christ’s test, we’ll be OK, and we also won’t fall pray to the Shari’a .”

Nor the Book of Mormon. You test a prophet by comparing his/her doctrine with the word of Christ.

Any teaching contrary to His is false.

So, Hugh, would Christ be a “bigot”?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spontaneous Order

My comments were directed only to those topics I specifically addressed.

Nowhere was I referring to whether or not Romney’s faith disqualified him from serving as president.

I certainly appreciate the positions he’s taken (lately) on several issues. I also respect him for the support I’ve heard expressed for him by prominent national figures.

My main concern was the misrepresentation of Mormonism as a Christian faith: Islam also says it “believes in Jesus”, but their Jesus — just as the Christ of Joseph Smith — is not the historical Son of God testified to by the Prophets and Apostles.

Neither should sloppy logic/reading be used to try to make Washington and Lincoln justification for secularism or Mormonism.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eichendorff wrote…

“It is bigoted to tell others what they believe. Latter-day Saints are the experts at what they believe, and they believe in Christ.”

Yes, a false, ahistorical Christ.

“One does not have to believe in the Nicene Creed to be a Christian for two reasons:

1. There is no basis for the creed in the Bible

2. There were lots of Christians before the creed was even formulated, including Jesus himself, all the apostles and all Christians in the first two or three centuries A.D.”

“Bigoted” means “intolerant.” “Intolerant” means unwilling to approve, recognize and respect, or bear something.

Stating what someone says they believe is making a factual statement, not intolerance.

The Nicene Creed is one summary of the Bible’s teachings on the nature of the Trinity. If you cannot agree with those doctrines, then you are rejecting Christ’s revelation about Himself.

For this reason, you can in no meaningful sense be called a “Christian.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And/but/so wrote…

“Nice, if inadvertent, illustration of the close-mindedness of the evangelical fundamentalist… My religion is true; your religion is “false.” My God is the true God, your god is a false god. I know God, you don’t know jack. My brother could beat up your brother….”

If the “evangelical fundamentalist” defines a religion as true or false on the basis of whether or not it is their own, then they err.

If the “evangelical fundamentalist” defines a religion as true or false on the basis of whether or not that religion teaches the Word of Christ faithfully, then that EF is on solid ground.

Rather than make ad hominem attacks against an entire segment of the population, why not demonstrate your devotion to the Christ of the Bible and speak His pure, unadulterated, and unvarnished Truth?

You won’t, because then you’d have to reject your Book of Mormon.

“For the love of (all our) God, please grow up! If you are so sure you are right, then you can wait until the afterlife to gloat.”

Then it will be too late. If a person is in error, then it is the God-given duty of the believer to correct them.

And a different Christ means a different God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

cyndu wrote…

“you attempt to shift the burden to a Mormon to explain why we don’t believe the way you believe.”

Since the Prophets, Apostles, and Messiah spoke from God long before Joseph Smith came up with his own “revelation,” the burden of proof must be on the Mormon.

“But you are not the standard, and what you believe isn’t the standard, and neither is what I believe. The standard is out there, and God knows it, and we’re ALL trying to find it and live it….”

It is unsurprising you’re still “trying to find” God’s standard, since you reject the Incarnation of it, His Son. His words should be the standard by which all doctrine is measured.

“I’ll take on that burden and answer your main point in this way. We don’t exactly believe what you believe because (1) we think Joseph Smith articulated a better and more internally coherent and compelling explanation of the facts of Christianity….”

Better than Moses? Better than Christ? Better than Paul or Peter or John? What is “internally coherent” about contradicting the Son of God?

Jesus said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

“If Smith was right….”

That’s a pretty big “if,” since his “revelation” contradicts the Word of God. Anything he taught outside of the Prophets and Apostles is adding to the Word of God, and (since you say you believe the Bible) you know the penalty for that!

If you want to honor the Christ of the Bible — the Christ of history — say what He says without adding to or taking away from it.

“Polygamy? One Mormon’s answer: Biblical precedence. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. When commanded or allowed by God. Need revelations to know when OK – same way Abraham knew.”

When did YHWH command polygamy? When did Christ command polygamy? The One in Whom you claim to believe said, “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.”

“Mormon explanation is a better and more compelling…than anything traditional Christianity believes.”

Since the historical Christian faith is derived from the Scriptures themselves, you are claiming your “revelations” are “better and more compelling” than the very Word of God!

“Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect”, and “Where I am, there may ye be also.” (Was he just dangling a carrot that we’d never catch?)”

Ever hear of the Ten Commandments?

And, since you also believe the Bible, you must recall, “If righteousness could be gained by the Law, Christ died for nothing.”

“Sorry if it offends you, but Mormons believe in a God so loving and powerful that he has no issues with or impediments to constructing a system…If you say God can’t, you believe in a God that isn’t all powerful. If you can God wouldn’t, then you believe in a God that isn’t all loving.”

You misdefine “loving” (and misrepresent God) because rather than speak His words, you advocate (and agitate for) a false prophet.

How is it “loving” to water down the Commandments? How is it “loving” to make God’s holiness sin? How is it “loving” to lie about Christ to the doom of your hearers?

If instead of trying to justify heresy, you were to actually read the Scriptures and allow them to speak for themselves, you would see that the Bible contains both Law and Gospel.

The Law makes very clear these two facts: If you sin, you die. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself.

The Gospel boldly states that Christ died for sinners.

“We don’t believe in the definition of God by committee that took place in Nicea….”

The Nicene Creed (Apostles’ and Athanasian too) is simply a summary/exposition of the teachings of Scripture.

“Mormons believe in direct revelation.”

So did Mohammed.

“Christ said the Holy Spirit would tell you all things whatsoever you shall do.”

Really? He did say that the Spirit would “…teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Not “will say.” Clearly, that to which Christ was referring is found in the works of the Apostles.

[Isn’t it interesting that apologists for the Tyranny of Allah also try to claim this verse as testimony in support of their own pernicious Heresy?]

Finally, for those upset that Christians refuse to characterize Mormons as “Christians” (a dissonance shared by Muslims who want to claim YHWH and their allah are the same god), the president of Brigham Young University (Rex Lee, What Do Mormons Believe? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992] summarizes Mormon teaching by stating that the three persons of the Trinity are “not… one being”, but are “separate individuals.” In addition, the Father is regarded as having a body “of flesh and bone.”

One cannot contradict Christ and expect to be called a Christian.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Diomedes wrote…

“Isn’t it to Christ and God to say who is Christain and who is not?”

He did say: “If you hold to My teachings, you are truly My disciples….”

“By all means doctrine is open to debate.”

Endless debate in which resolution is impossible because one side refuses to use any sort of meaningful, objective criteria for determining truth (the Bible)?

“To you, your religion, to me, mine, and anyway, how dare you criticize my faith regardless of how often my one holy book contradicts my other holy book!” is not an argument.

“Let’s not presume to take unto ourselves God’s perrogative.”

I agree we cannot see into people’s hearts. But we are not talking about that.

Jesus taught:

“…by their fruits you will know them,”

“Your Word is Truth,”

“test the spirits,” and,

“If anyone adds anything to [the words of this Book], God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

How can a Mormon claim to be a Christian when so much of their doctrine is obviously heresy? Here is another example:

“Latter-day Saints regard as ‘a central and saving doctrine’ that the ‘Father’ was once a man and is a man having a body of flesh and bones. ‘God is a glorified and perfected man, personage of flesh and bones.’

“Elohim (Hebrew name for God) is ‘the name-title of God the Eternal Father, the Father of the spirits of all men and women.’ Elohim was once a human on another planet who attained the status of deity.

Elohim sired every single person in the premortal existence before the earth was created.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dan…
Good post analyzing Professor Hewitt’s defense of Mormonism.

Have you given any thought to critiquing Imam Hewitt’s extenuation of the Religion of Peace?

Since he first offered CAIR a national platform for their propaganda on his program, he’s slowly come to realize there is a problem within Islam, but the last time I checked, he still stubbornly defines the religion in terms of its Apostates and Heretics, rather than its god and founder and its Majority of Extremist Sympathizers.

This lack of religious “discrimination” doesn’t bode well for the defense of the West against the Tyranny of Allah, but perhaps it explains Hugh’s willingness to hop into bed with Mormonism.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eichendorff continued…

“…the Bible itself makes no claim to being the final arbiter. God is the final arbiter, and the Bible is not God. The Bible doesn’t teach anything resembling the Trinity, nor does it teach salvation by faith alone (see James 2).”

Of course, to support your heresy, you must now attack the sufficiency of the Scriptures. I thought you believed in the Bible too?

“The Bible” is not a single entity, but a collection of the writings of men who spoke as the Holy Spirit directed them. Christ testified to the sacred nature of the Old Testament writings, and the Church recognized as Divinely Inspired the Apostolic texts.

What does Christ say?

“Father, sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”

“If you hold to My teachings, you are truly My disciples.”

The wise man is the one who “hears My words and does them.”

“Test the spirits” by His word.

He says that the Word of God is useful for correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness….”

So, yes, the Bible is the only guide by which Man can determine the truth about God.

As for the Trinity, that doctrine is found throughout Scripture. Jesus said, “I and My Father are one,” He referred to the Holy Spirit as God, and He commanded His people to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

And on the topic of salvation, yes, the Scriptures do teach that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

James says a bit clumsily what the rest of Scripture makes very clear: “a man is saved by faith apart from works” (or do you only cite those passages that [appear to] serve your error?).

If you read James you’ll see that he is making the distinction between a claimed faith and true, saving faith. Whom does he cite as an example? Abraham. “Abraham *believed God*, and it was *credited to him as righteousness*.”

Jesus said a good tree produces good fruit. Good works are the result of saving faith in Christ, not the reason we are saved. In other words, “We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.”

“No evangelical has the authority, given of God, to declare anyone else’s Christianity or lack thereof.”

An atheist with a fifth-grader’s reading comprehension can determine whether or not a person is accurately reflecting what a text states.

You’re basically arguing for a one-sided, self-centered moral relativism that goes something like this: “What I say is true is true, but what you say isn’t true unless I like it!”

Either one teaches what the Bible teaches, or one does not.

You can’t contradict Scripture and expect to be considered a Christian. (And besides, if traditional, historical Christianity has it so wrong that you need a whole new prophet and book — just like Islam! — why would you want to identify with us in the first place?)

“Legitimacy as followers of Christ comes from God alone….”

Your “legitimacy” comes from obeying the doctrines of Christ, Who said, “If you love Me, obey My commands.”

He also offered severe warnings against teaching heresy to others.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple more thoughts…
@ ccwbass,

“It’s amusing, yes, but it’s also frustrating, because if there’s one thing we DO know from books like “Mein Kampf” and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” it’s that ignorance and hatred….”

So Christians who state the obvious fact that Mormon doctrine deviates [from] and contradicts the Biblical texts are now Nazis?

The demonizing of those who disagree! Goebbels would be proud!

@ Eichendorff,

“I, along with every other Latter-day Saint, view the Bible as the word of God and I believe everything written in it. What I have little regard for is your interpretation of the Bible.”

Misinterpreting the Scriptures’ until they mean nothing at all just so that you can espouse your heresy guilt-free is not “interpretation,” it’s “deception.”

[Besides, it’s not about “my” interpretation. What does God say?]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spontaneous Order

“I do care that you can say something outrageous like accusing me of belonging to a “sociological cult” based on the fact that you disliked the tone of two commenters on this blog.”

In Sociology, “cult” has a very specific definition. I doubt the application of the term was due to any poster’s tone, but rather Mormon practice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another for Spontaneous Order….

“Amillenniallist proves my point. He defines “Christian” as “anyone who interpretes the Bible differently than he does.”

No, that is the definition used by at least one of your co-religionists, but that is not mine. Of course, you must misrepresent my position [as] idiosyncratic so that you can dismiss it as irrelevant.

At least have the decency to accurately state what I believe.

“Obviously its not bigoted for him to think Mormons aren’t “Christians” under that definition. Heck, I’ll even admit that I’m not a “Christian” under that definition. Most Christians aren’t.”

[Using Christian error and heresy to justify a totally pagan perversion!]

The fact that a multitude of Christian denominations exist means that all or most teach and practice some false doctrine; this does not mean that all are not “Christian.”

When I use the term I am referring to those who can, among other doctrines, affirm those espoused in the three major, historical Christian creeds: the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another spontaneous reply…

“Did Christ teach that you should treat people as second-class citizens if they have different religious beliefs than you?”

Of course not. But He spoke the truth. He corrected false doctrine. He was intolerant of lies, sin, and hypocrisy.

[And critiquing doctrines which claim to be consistent with the Bible by comparing them with — the Bible! — is hardly making anyone a “second-class citizen.” That sounds like an attempt at ad hominem and to play the victim.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Whig wrote in an excellent post…

“Several of the above posts seem to say that if we elected a Muslim, he might do anything at all and plunge our country into Sharia Law or some other such tyranny. The fact is that the people making such claims either do not understand the structure of our constitutional government or they do not trust it to work. The structures in place would absolutely prevent our institutions from being replaced with systems incompatible with the People….”

Yes, the Constitution is still obeyed. There’s no massive federal government, Judicial Tyranny, infringement of the Right to Bear Arms, limitation of free speech, undeclared war….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Whig wrote in a less-stirring post:

“Islam believes that Jesus was a Prophet, but specifically denies Jesus’s divine sonship. Nowhere has Mormonism denied Jesus’s godhood or filal relationship to God. You comparison of Mormonism to Islam is therefore incorrect.”

You are misrespresenting my position. I was not equating Mormonism with Islam because it shares the same belief in the deity of Christ, I was comparing them in that both claim to worship the same god Christians do. They do not.

“As touching on your other assertion, by what standard do you claim that “the Jesus” held in reverence by the LDS faith is not the same as that testified to by the Prophets and Apostles?

I say that you have no reasonable standard by which you make that claim, and that is it instead rooted in unreasoning bigotry.”

I noted above several Mormon doctrines which are contrary to Scripture.

I say that your assertion is rooted in ignorance and is, therefore, a bad guess.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eichendorff added…

“Our resident millennialist…”

Amillennialist.

“…has no clue about what Latter-day Saints believe. Mormonism’s view of Christ cannot be further from the Muslim view.”

Where did I write that Mormonism and Islam share the same beliefs about Christ? I did state that both claim to “believe” in (a false) Jesus.

Have you been doing more of your “creative reading”? :)

“Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that he lived a perfect life, that he performed the Atonement, that he was resurrected, and that salvation comes only through him, as it is explained in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. Now if that is not the Christ that our millennialist believes in, then he is the one who is not Christian.”

If you believe about Christ only what the Bible teaches, why do you need any other “divine revelation”?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eichendorff persisted…

“Give me one example of anything in the Book of Mormon that contradicts anything in the Bible.”

See above, or is that not Mormon doctrine?

Rather than engage in ad hominem attacks, why not honestly state what your “revelations” teach and how they differ from orthodox Christianity?

The falsehood of your doctrine does not depend on whether or not your critics can cite chapter and verse, their falsehood depends on whether or not they contradict the Word of Christ.

Rather than admit your extra- and contra-Biblical heresies, you imply that your doctrines are God-pleasing (by the way — and I know this will cheer you — Islam does the same thing!).

The Book of Mormon states in 2 Nephi 25:23: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

But the Word of Christ states plainly:

“no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Galatians 3:11).

“‘Cursed be every who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them'” (Galatians 3:10).

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13).

“In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“…we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28).

To claim that God’s saving sinners requires first their obedience is clearly contrary to Scripture. “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Gal. 2:21).

Therefore, the Book of Mormon’s teaching on salvation clearly contradicts the Bible. It teaches a false gospel (and you know what that means: Paul said that anyone who preaches a false gospel should be eternally condemned).

As I noted in an earlier post, we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.

Good works are a result of saving faith in Christ, not the cause of our salvation. Eternal life is entirely His gift to us in Christ.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair wrote…

“I can’t wait to join such friends in helping elect an excellent conservative Presidential candidate. I expect him to fight and win the war, to pack the Court with originalists, to cut my taxes and keep it low, to preserve marriage and my right to bear arms, to lead the fight against abortion, and to restore the rule of law in our immigration process.”

I’ll vote for him when I see him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lowenberg added…

“The Mormon Church teaches that shortly after the time of the disciples, the Christian church apostatized and was not restored until Joseph Smith’s vision in 1820.”

Just like Islam.

“Therefore, Mormonism considers Christianity an enemy because it teaches “false” doctrines.”

That too is just like Islam.

“Because Mormonism holds that Christian doctrines lead me astray spiritually, the Mormon church views Christians as deceived people.”

And that is, ironically enough, just like Islam.

“Thus, Brigham Young taught that Christians were unbelievers; they may falsely claim to believe in Christ, but the truth is “not one of them really believes in Him.”

And that is — you guessed it! — just like Islam.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Whig asked…

“The Nicene Creed is the opinion of a committee on the Nature of the Trinity, based upon several preconceived assumptions, none of which can be found in the Bible.”

That is false, and you misunderstand the nature of the Nicene Creed.

“Your argument is circular; it points back to itself as its source of authority.”

Since it appears you did not read my argument, perhaps you’d like to rescind that evaluation.

“Since you neglected to answer Eichendorff’s second point, I must assume that 1) you forgot or, 2) you cannot answer it.”

See above.

“The LDS accept the Bible, and reject the creeds. The Christians who lived prior to the formation of the creeds were able to live without them. Why do you imagine we cannot?”

You write of the Creeds as if they were some sort of incantation. The Creeds are summaries of Biblical teachings.

“…isn’t the extra-biblical Nicene Creed “adding to” the Bible? If so, are you not in violation of the same scripture in Revelation that you hold against the LDS?”

No, it is not. It is a summary of some of the Bible’s teachings.

“If not, then why is its acceptance a requirement to be considered Christian?”

Accepting the Nicene Creed is not a requirement for being a Christian, but since its statements are derived from the Scriptures, a Christian will affirm its doctrines as true.

“I find this very interesting: Evangelicals claim the Bible as justification for “correcting” LDS beliefs, but the Bible only charges Christians with correcting fellow Christians.”

Really? Where does it say that?

It does say, “Speak the truth in love,” and, “Go, and…[teach] them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All you need to know about Eichendorff

He wanted one contradiction between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. He got (among other examples of false Mormon doctrine):

2 Nephi 25:23: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

But the Word of Christ states plainly:

“no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Galatians 3:11).

“‘Cursed be every who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them'” (Galatians 3:10).

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13).

“In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“…we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28).

“If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21).

Yet he perseverates, “The Book of Mormon teaching on salvation by grace is in strict harmony with the Bible.”

And that tells you all you need to know of Eichendorff’s willingness and/or ability to tell the truth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG noted…

“…You can easily see the common ground and also the differences with other brands of Christianity….”

Similarities in doctrine do not make one religion the same as another. Islam’s apologists in the West often emphasize “common ground” with the other “Abrahamic faiths,” though their creed and god couldn’t be more diametrical to the God of the Bible.

You would find that a Muslim could note several similarities with your faith. I doubt you would claim that makes you Muslim.

You would find that a Jehovah’s Witness would also find similarities between their creed and yours. I doubt you would claim that makes you a Witness.

And the same would be true of any other monotheistically-inclined pseudo-religion.

If you have a different god, you are not Christian. If you have a different Christ, you are not Christian. If you have a different gospel, you are not Christian. If you have a different revelation, you are not Christian.

“Mormons believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as do most Christians.”

A different father, son, and holy spirit.

This is just one example of when a Mormon says “we believe the same thing you do,” they are using the same words, but with very different meanings.

To claim that (according to one summary), “God the father used to be a man on another planet; he became a God by following the laws and ordinances of that God on that planet and came to this world with his wife; they produce spirit offspring; these spirit offspring, which includes Jesus, the devil, and you and me, are all brothers and sisters born in the preexistence; and the preexistence spirits come down and inhabit babies at the time of birth and their memories of the preexistence are lost at the time,” is contrary to the Biblical texts. It is heresy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gunlock Bill unwittingly and inadvertently both missed and made my point with:

“Therefore, Christians(at leaset Amillennialist and Lowenberg) consider Mormonism an enemy because it teaches “false” doctrines.

That is just like Islam,” [etc.]

On missing the point of the comparison:

Both Mormonism and Islam were founded by self-proclaimed (but false) prophets. Both claim to “believe” in the Christian God and Jesus, yet both teach different gods and different christs. Both claim that Christianity lost the truth, and that their religion has it. Both claim new, divine revelations while still “respecting” the Bible. Both teach different gospels.

At least Mormonism doesn’t teach jihad.

On making my point:

Using the same (or similar) words while applying to them very different meanings does not make Mormonism a Christian faith. If it did, Islam would be a Christian faith.

As you (no doubt) gleefully point out, superficial similarities between religions do not make them the same religion.

Neither does calling different gods by the same name make them the same god.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eichendorff continues…

“The manner in which Lowenberg and millennialist exhibit arrogance and bigotry toward Latter-day Saints…”

Pointing out false doctrine as heresy is “arrogance and bigotry”? Apparently, you consider name calling and ad hominem attacks “logic.”

“…Christians…stand condemned bwfore God and are in need of sincere repentance….”

For pointing out heretical attacks on His Word!

“It is time for all Christians to look to Jesus for the example of how to treat others.”

Did Jesus remain silent when men falsely claimed to speak for God?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG adds…

“I do not have time right now to look up all of the Bible scriptures that indicate that Grace is a necessary but insufficent condition for salvation.”

Your understanding of “grace” is not God’s.

Grace is not a “condition,” it is His undeserved love for us sinners.

“Works and ordinances are also required.”

The Bible states that a person must keep the *entire* Law if they wish to be saved, and that if we claim we have no sin, we lie.

Good works are only the fruit of saving faith in Christ, works that He prepared in advance for us, works that He causes us to will and to do. They follow our salvation — they are not the cause of it, nor do they contribute to it.

The only Biblical text that might at first seem to support the idea that our works save us is from James. As I noted in an earlier post, at first glance he appears to argue that works are necessary for salvation.

Upon considering his entire argument and its proof (Abraham), it is clear that he is contrasting a false, expressed faith (“even demons believe, and shudder”) with saving faith (“I will show you my faith by what I do”).

True, saving faith in Christ will produce good works.

“If necessary I will provide the best scriptures later.”

Since you’re attempting to support heresy, that may prove a vain pursuit.

“It will become very clear very quickly that salvation requires works and ordinances.”

It should become very clear very quickly that:

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law,”

“…if righteousness could be gained by the Law, Christ died for nothing,” and,

“…to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Abraham and James).

“…the Bible that has been interpreted to support the Protestant (only some) bias toward salvation by Grace alone.”

That is God’s bias.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG continues…

“The Bible as we have it today is only a small part of the things that Jesus taught the Primitive Church.”

But, as far as we know, it is all God saw fit to preserve.

“The Catholic Church was formed about 300 AD and preserved as many of the writings, teachings and traditions that it could.”

That is false.

The Christian Church (all those who believe in Jesus) was formed at Pentecost. Those early believers recorded and preserved all they could of the Apostles’ writings, but the Old Testament Canon was already set by the time of Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church was not formed until centuries later.

“However, Mormons would maintain that much was lost during the extentsive percecution of 60-68 AD and later about the time the Book of Revelations was written (about 90-100 AD).”

And what is your evidence of this? Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

If it was lost, how do you know it ever existed?

And even if you could know, how could what was lost (assuming you’re thinking of the Book of Mormon and other “revelations”) so wildly contradict intact Scripture?

“It is also clear that during the first 100 years factions had arisen in the church and influenced doctrine (i.e., Greek Philosophy).”

And heresies were refuted using the Word of God, just as He said should be done.

“By the time of the Nicean Council there were many competing factions and doctrines on many issues.”

And the Standard used to sort out confusion was the Word of God.

“The Book of Mormon is a record of a colony of Jews and thier prophets who left Jerusalem during the time of Jeremiah and came to America. It is a separate record and not an addition to the Bible.”

And so were Qur’an, Sira, and Hadith. Revelations delivered by angels to lone, self-proclaimed prophets can be troublesome.

If the Book of Mormon really is a divine revelation completely in harmony with the Bible, why do you need it at all? It is redundant!

If it adds something new (it does) or contradicts that which has already been revealed (it does), then how can it be divine in origin?

The Bible provides very stern warnings against saying what God has not said. No one is to add to or take away from what He has revealed.

“There is ample evidence of the Jews and other tribes dispersing.”

Like the Bible?

“Other colonies may also have records that are not yet discovered.”

Which says nothing about whether or not Joseph Smith preached a false messiah. He did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lizzie contributed…

“Do you honestly think any of you will get the other to evaluate religious principles honestly when we are all baised to begin with?”

Bias doesn’t necessarily mean one is unable to recognize new, relevant evidence and revise their positions in light of that.

I hope that all will be persuaded toward affirming the Christ of the Bible, but even if no LDS here does so, at least some in our audience may benefit from the discussion.

“For heaven’s sake, people have been killed, crucified, raped, and burned in the name of religion.”

We’re talking about Mormonism, not Islam (unlike Islam, the actions you describe are *not* “divinely” mandated).

“All the arguments here have a taint of that sort of hate in them.”

Though I disagree with those here who claim to worship the Christ of the Bible while misrepresenting His person and work, I would not believe any of them are violent or hateful.

“Why don’t you all agree to disagree, and then go about being the best person you can be in a positive way?”

I hope that if we must disagree, at least it will be with the recognition by our Mormon friends that theirs is a different god.

For example, God the Father cannot be eternal, unbegotten, uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (the Bible) and also have been a flesh and bone man copulating to produce spirit children unable to recall their preexistence (Mormonism).

“Let the LDS believe the principles they hold sacred without ridicule. Let the Protestants abide by the truths they hold near to their hearts without ridicule.”

I agree.

[Is it not ridiculous to claim complete “harmony” with the Bible but then contradict it so flagrantly?]

“Let us all go forward and not backward, in making the earth a better place to live. Let us solve problems together, and help those that are less fortunate thus emulating our professed Christianity.”

How does lying about God help anyone?

“Then, when Christ comes, he may be pleased that we have all served him in harmony in spite of our differences.”

What makes you think that allowing lies about Him and His Father to go unchallenged for Harmony’s Sake will please Him at all?

“When truth can’t be pinpointed, or when it is argued over incessantly, do any of you really think that makes God happy?”

That’s the problem. Truth has been “pinpointed.” It is Christ.

Argument over truth is the fault of those in error.

“Don’t you think he will come down here and straighten it all out?”

He already did, two thousand years ago.

When He straightens it out next time, it won’t be too pretty for those on the wrong side of His Word.

“Well, then, let’s let Christ do the fixing and the judging.”

He did, He is, and He will — through His Word.

“What would you do, if you found out the business associate you respect, was one of your foes here in the thread?”

That would be awkward. :)

“Surprisingly, all of us may be quite likeable in real life.”

:)

“There is much good in all of us. Let us focus on that instead of trying to destroy one another.”

When did “testing the spirits” by the Word of God become “destroying one another”?

You are kind.

Sometimes Love requires speaking unpleasant truths.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

omi wrote…

“…ANYONE who professed to believe in Christ and tried to follow his teachings. Even those who didn’t follow orthodox theology were termed “Christian” heretics. At that time, those opposed to the LDS Church started the meme “Mormons aren’t Christians,” using the term in its new, non-standard, exclusionary sense.”

Is “Christian heretic” much better than “not Christian”?

Either way, there is a problem.

“We LDS were puzzled and hurt by this attempt to convince people that we don’t believe in Christ.”

My intent is neither to puzzle nor hurt.

I have been making the point that teaching false doctrine about Jesus makes for a false christ.

Contradicting *any* part of the Scriptures is contradicting Christ, since all of it is His Word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lizzie also observed…

“There’s not a religion on the planet that doesn’t have a checkered past, or present for that matter. There are even prophets, or chosen ones in the Bible that had “checkered” pasts. David, Jonah, Peter, Paul/Saul?”

“There are even” seems to indicate some may not have been. All of them (and us!) are sinners who justly deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment.

“…no one has the right to judge, except the only one who was actually sinless.”

“Do not judge,” does not mean, “allow lies about Me to go unchallenged.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Someone tell Eichendorff…

“An ad hominen arguement is not a logical arguement but simple name calling.”

“…why stoop to name calling and hateful speech?”

“Let us agree to disagree, but not insult one another.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If this was directed to me…

“Look it is obvious to everyone on this thread that you have a very narrow definition of Christianity that represents less than 8% of the people in this country. Further, many of that 8% are not anti mormon.”

How is, “Believe and teach what Jesus taught” “narrowly defining” Christianity?

Is “make up whatever nonsense you want no matter how wildly it contradicts Christ’s Word,” a better definition of Christianity?

If you don’t like my definition, perhaps you should take it up with Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, obey My commands,” and, “If you hold to My teachings, you are truly My disciples.”

That many “Christians” teach and practice false doctrines does not make Mormonism’s heresies true.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG assumed…

“The anti Mormons on here have defined a Christianity so narrow that it excludes all Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Church of Christ, and the Orthodox based on official denominational doctrine. However, based on actual beliefs held,the anti Mormon definition of Christianity also excludes large percentages Protestants and Evangelicals as non Christians.”

First, I am not “anti-Mormon.”

Second, since it appears you consider me other than “Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical,” etc., what am I?

Third, you are not addressing the point. Playing with a survey to argue that many American Christians know little or nothing about their own religion in no way demonstrates the truth of your own doctrines.

“I also expect the above denominations and individuals would not take to kindly to being called non Christians.”

Only you are calling them non-Christians.

And though they may not like it, if they are in error, then they need to fix it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BG followed up with…

“Your narrow definition of Christianty also excludes Lutherans as they believe in salvation by ordinance (works).”

Lutherans most definitely do *not* believe in salvation by works.

Perhaps you’ve not heard the phrase “Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura.” It originated (as a phrase, the teaching is from Scripture) with the Lutherans. No one could be further from a doctrine of salvation by works.

It is the Lutherans who observe that “we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.”

In other words, true faith in Christ will result in good works; those works in no way contribute to our salvation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair commented…

“If you are not anti-Mormon, then you should be pleased to have them at your side as natural political allies. For example, Utah still the reddest of the red states.”

I’m happy for all political allies. As I noted above (somewhere), I am looking for the best president we can get. I do not exclude Mitt from consideration because he is Mormon.

“Meanwhile, you are presented with a puzzle. If Mormons aren’t Christian, then why do they generally behave that way?”

Lots of people behave in what might be called a “moral” or “Christian” way. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything about whether or not their doctrine is true.

And how can it be considered “Christian behavior” to lie about Christ and His Father?

“Is it your belief that the Nicene Creed and its offshoots are the doctrinal sine qua non of Christianity whereas other doctrinal differences amongst other Christian faiths are to be overlooked?”

Every word from the mouth of God matters. There should be no doctrinal divisions within Christianity.

If the word “Christian” is to mean anything, it seems reasonable to begin with “Whom do you say I am?”

The Jesus of history is the Jesus of the Bible. Mormon teachings about His person and work — spirit brother to Satan, preexisting spirit child of a flesh and bone father — are contrary to His Word, so how can it be said that a Mormon even knows Who Jesus is?

“Do you remember that Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and many others, justified human slavery by appeal to the Bible?”

That doesn’t mean their appeal was intellectually honest. Anyone can appeal to the Bible. Even the devil does it.

That is one example of people misusing Scripture to justify sin.

“Southern pulpits were aflame with biblical justification of slavery.”

That should read, “…pulpits were aflame with attempts to justify slavery by misusing the Bible.”

“Were you aware that evangelical Christians in Missouri of the 1830’s participated in violently running Mormon settlers out of their state in large part because Mormons were an anti-slavery voting bloc? Which group was the more Christian?”

One group used violence to support tyranny, the other blasphemed the Creator of the universe.

“Isn’t loving one’s neighbor, as Christ taught, the truest signal of one’s Christian credentials?”

How is it loving to destroy one’s neighbor by preaching a false christ and a false gospel? Saint Paul said that “…if anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be anathema!”

“And again, shouldn’t you be pleased to have Mormon brothers and sisters as your natural political allies?”

I am pleased for political allies, but we cannot be called “brothers and sisters” in the Biblical sense, for the Father of my Lord is the YHWH of Scripture, yours is the resurrected, flesh-and-bone, copulating delusion of a false prophet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

gunlock bill wrote…

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God…great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

But Jesus says, “…false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

And the Apostle Paul writes,

“I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

God the Father flesh-and-bone? Not Jesus’ Father. He said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gunlock Bill commented…

“But Jesus says, ‘…false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.'”

“This implies that there will also be TRUE prophets…”

Using your exegesis, Jesus was also implying “there will also be TRUE christs.”

Of course, He was warning His people to avoid being deceived by liars speaking in God’s name but who did not say what He has said.

How are His people to discern truth? By comparing what is preached to what His Word teaches.

“…otherwise Jesus would have told that “there would be no prophets”

Continuing with your logic, it should read: “…otherwise Jesus would have told that ‘there would be no christs.”

Of course, that is unnecessary except with those trying to justify heresy.

“That is why He added the part about “by their fruits ye shall know them”

And what kind of fruit is it when one lies about the person and work of Christ and His Father?

For such trees, something to consider:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

“I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? …Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.”

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

“And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair resorts to logical fallacies…

“Amillenialist has so far called Mormons liars, deceivers, blasphemers and anathema.”

I did a quick search of this thread. It appears that…

I have not called you a “liar.” I have noted Christ’s warnings against those who lie about Him.

I have not called you a “deceiver.” I have noted several of Mormonism’s false doctrines.

I have not called you a “blasphemer.” I have noted that Mormonism blasphemes Christ and His Father.

I have not called you “anathema.” I was noting what Paul said regarding those who preach a false gospel, which Mormonism does.

Rather than try to make me the issue, misrepresent my statements, or make yourself a victim, why not address the point?

To do anything else would be less than “Christian” behavior.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TheChair added at his own site

“…’amillenialist’ cites a few biblical verses and his understanding of them, then says, “you see, you don’t believe the same, so you aren’t Christian.” The implication is that Mormons are merely to be tolerated, at best, in the political sphere.”

You are not presenting my statements accurately.

My positions are not the issue, so your attempt at an ad hominem to distract from what is in question is intellectually dishonest.

Neither is it truthful to mischaracterize my statements as “[my] understanding of them,” since “my understanding” is that of the historic Christian Church (and it is that because it is the testimony of the Scriptures).

Also, my argument has never been, “You don’t believe like me…,” it has been, “You are not saying what God says” (another subtle attempt at an ad hominem).

Finally, “tolerating Mormons” has never been my “implication.” I was only addressing several of your co-religionists’ assertions that Mormonism was a Christian religion.

In light of several of the heresies demonstrated in that thread (including contradicting Christ’s own testimony on His person and work), it should be obvious that Mormonism cannot rightfully claim to be worshiping the God of the Bible and His Christ, but the vain imagining of its false prophet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Great points by Tom

“I can’t agree that choosing not to vote for someone because of their religion is a form of bigotry. The essential definition of religion is that it is a system of beliefs. One’s beliefs are the predicate for one’s actions. Examining a candidate’s beliefs is relevant to evaluating how they will act.

“The dogma that it is wrong to consider a candidate’s religion is based on the hazy notion that religion has no real necessary connection to one’s actions…

“…if someone thinks that Romney’s beliefs will lead to bad policy actions, regardless of whether the belief is part of the Mormon religion, it is completely appropriate not to support him. There is no belief-neutral action. Evaluating candidates necessarily requires evaluation of their belief systems and hence their religions.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tim nails it with…

Old Whig: “The fact is that the people making such claims either do not understand the structure of our constitutional government or they do not trust it to work.” [Saturday, March, 31, 2007 1:52 AM]

“Umm…I’ll take “don’t trust it to work” for a million kajillion dollars, Old Whig. Kelo, Clinton’s little war in Bosnia, the current usurpation of generalship by the 535, emanations of penumbras, the Clinton Gun Ban, the current HR 1022, willful failure to enforce federal immigration and employment law, federal court approval of required public school classes in Islam, Supreme Court rulings based on foreign laws and practices….

“The Constitution only works to the extent that competing interests are forced to obey it, and bringing any such force to bear is often a practical impossibility.

“Article 6 of the Constitution, much like many other parts of the Constitution, applies to the GOVERNMENT. The GOVERNMENT is prohibited from establishing a religious test for any federal office. INDIVIDUAL VOTERS are still allowed (see Amendment 10 for further details) to establish whatever personal rationales they desire in their selection of the candidate to whom they will give their vote.

“Thus I disagree with you and emphatically state that it is MORALLY indefensible to refrain from demanding that any candidate publicly state how his beliefs will affect how he will govern me. Anyone who willfully purchases a pig in a poke is a fool.

“Hmmm… also this: “The man audacious enough to attempt such foolishness would be rewarded … with … John Locke’s Fifth Right, enshrined in the Second Amendment.”

“For the moment (see HR 1022 above), the general US citizen who meets certain requirements is allowed to own, at best, any number of semi-automatic firearms. Insurrection against the US is literally bringing a pop gun to a combined operations mechanized warfare fight, and, as such, is a guaranteed loser. The 2nd Amendment ceased to perform its intended function of allowing citizens a “last defense” against assaults by their government certainly no later than the 1934 National Firearms Act. The “best” that an armed uprising of citizens could possibly hope to achieve at this date is to turn all of the US into Baghdad, and that is assuming that the military decides to obey orders to attack their fellow citizens. At worst, the military would refuse or splinter, and the Republic, as a result, would die. The 2nd Amendment will not protect you anymore. If they come for your guns, you WILL give them up, or they WILL kill you.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A look back at Old Whig

“With this in mind, how appropriate is it, in our system of government, to ask a man how his religion might affect his ability to govern? Such a question 1) is MORALLY unconstitutional and, 2) need not be asked in light of the safeguards mentioned above. If any controversy should arise, methods are in place to deal with the offender. Unfortunately for my Evangelical friends, the difference of one’s religion from theirs is not an impeachable offense.”

Nice attempt at making criticism of Mormonism off-limits.

I fully expect to see Islam using this one soon.

“A side note to Dan: the quest for political office, however unlikely to succeed, does not equate to a “headlong, reckless pursuit of power.” Simply because you may not win does not mean that to try is wrong, for the attempt in the face of seemingly certain defeat is the stuff of Dreams and Songs. Perhaps your dreams have been stifled too long, your song silenced…”

That’s an odd, pseudo-psychoanalytical ad hominem overgeneralization.

Connecting apparently disparate, destructive dots

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2007 at 1:50 PM

If it is true that Juan Alvarez slaughtered innocent commuters in fulfillment of an ancient blood cult (or in militant allegiance to a perverted Reconquista–the first was a proper Defense of the West Against the Tyranny of Allah) and that he was instructed or encouraged in this worldview by Aguilar, then Marcos Aguilar is at least to some small degree complicit in his crimes.

And what does it say about Antonio Villaraigosa that he was affiliated with a group like MEChA? Has he ever denounced its ideology and goals? Why would Villaraigosa support a public school that is not only failing in its only mission, but actively undermining (on the taxpayer’s dime) American language and culture? Is this why he wants control over the District?

It appears that just like the (at least temporarily) non-violent proponents of the Global Jihad here in the United States, Aguilar (and Villaraigosa and the rest of La Raza militants) exploit the charity and good will of We the People and misuse the safeguards of our Liberty in their efforts to usurp American society.

[It is also worth noting that this ancient Aztec belief system was pretty much ended by the military, political, and cultural domination of a Western nation over its adherents. What does this imply for how to deal with today’s Religion of Death?

Perhaps squandering American blood and money on liberating those who espouse such an ideology is unwise.]

From here:

Marcos Aguilar, the Principal and founder of the Academia Semillas del Pueblo school and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are both former members of the UCLA chapter of MEChA.

If not committing suicide is a measure of success for Marcos Aguilar, then he must be extremely proud of his protégé Juan Alvarez seen here dancing beside him. Marcos Aguilar taught at Garfield high school where he met Juan Alvarez. This is a yearbook photo of Aguilar in the Danza Azteca group that he founded. On the opposite page is Juan Alvarez in the MEChA club.

…In January of 2005, Juan Alvarez parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the Metro link railroad tracks in Glendale, CA. He then stood by as an approaching passenger train smashed into it. The train derailed into another train traveling in the opposite direction and 11 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured.

…It is reported that Juan Alvarez often dressed as an Indian in his everyday life, much the way Marcos Aguilar does. Perhaps a better explanation of why Juan Alvarez murdered eleven innocent people is because he took his Aztec beliefs to the extreme.

In ancient Aztec society, human sacrifice and bloodletting were primary forms of ritual.

The god’s sacrificed themselves to create the world and sun, and they offered their own blood to create people.

Humankind owed a tremendous debt to the gods, and this debt could only be discharged through frequent offerings of human blood.

The Aztecs accomplished this duty through human sacrifice and bloodletting. They would cut themselves until they bled.

Connecting apparently disparate, destructive dots

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2007 at 12:50 PM

If it is true that Juan Alvarez slaughtered innocent commuters in fulfillment of an ancient blood cult (or in militant allegiance to a perverted Reconquista–the first was a proper Defense of the West Against the Tyranny of Allah) and that he was instructed or encouraged in this worldview by Aguilar, then Marcos Aguilar is at least to some small degree complicit in his crimes.

And what does it say about Antonio Villaraigosa that he was affiliated with a group like MEChA? Has he ever denounced its ideology and goals? Why would Villaraigosa support a public school that is not only failing in its only mission, but actively undermining (on the taxpayer’s dime) American language and culture? Is this why he wants control over the District?

It appears that just like the (at least temporarily) non-violent proponents of the Global Jihad here in the United States, Aguilar (and Villaraigosa and the rest of La Raza militants) exploit the charity and good will of We the People and misuse the safeguards of our Liberty in their efforts to usurp American society.

[It is also worth noting that this ancient Aztec belief system was pretty much ended by the military, political, and cultural domination of a Western nation over its adherents. What does this imply for how to deal with today’s Religion of Death?

Perhaps squandering American blood and money on liberating those who espouse such an ideology is unwise.]

From here:

Marcos Aguilar, the Principal and founder of the Academia Semillas del Pueblo school and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are both former members of the UCLA chapter of MEChA.

If not committing suicide is a measure of success for Marcos Aguilar, then he must be extremely proud of his protégé Juan Alvarez seen here dancing beside him. Marcos Aguilar taught at Garfield high school where he met Juan Alvarez. This is a yearbook photo of Aguilar in the Danza Azteca group that he founded. On the opposite page is Juan Alvarez in the MEChA club.

…In January of 2005, Juan Alvarez parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the Metro link railroad tracks in Glendale, CA. He then stood by as an approaching passenger train smashed into it. The train derailed into another train traveling in the opposite direction and 11 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured.

…It is reported that Juan Alvarez often dressed as an Indian in his everyday life, much the way Marcos Aguilar does. Perhaps a better explanation of why Juan Alvarez murdered eleven innocent people is because he took his Aztec beliefs to the extreme.

In ancient Aztec society, human sacrifice and bloodletting were primary forms of ritual.

The god’s sacrificed themselves to create the world and sun, and they offered their own blood to create people.

Humankind owed a tremendous debt to the gods, and this debt could only be discharged through frequent offerings of human blood.

The Aztecs accomplished this duty through human sacrifice and bloodletting. They would cut themselves until they bled.

Harrison Bergeron’s War

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2007 at 12:18 PM

Below is an example of the rules under which the British military must operate, and regrettably, ours appears to be also. Why even give our guys guns? Who in Washington is worried that mobs who aid those firing on Americans might get hurt?

It is patently unjust for our soldiers, marines, sailors, and air men–the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen–to be made into little more than targets, but this cowardice from our leadership is only one of the factors on which our enemy depends.

If Israel and the United States (and now the UK) would stop worrying about who might be offended by manly self-defense and get serious about punishing those who would enslave or slaughter us, this Global War on a Tactic would end rather quickly. If people in that crowd knew that someone firing on Americans from among them would bring the quick obliteration of their geographic location, that crowd would either stop the jihadist themselves or disperse, leaving the mujahideen without “civilian” cover.

And if such strength would have been demonstrated the last three years, we would not have sacrificed three thousand of our heroes to the gods of political correctness and multiculturalism.

From here.

England’s Queen Elizabeth II awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross to a U.S. pilot for the first time since World War II during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on March 21, according to a Corps release.

Marine Maj. William Chesarek was serving as an exchange officer with England’s 847 Naval Air Squadron in Amarah, Iraq, last year when British forces on the ground came under “repeated attack from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from insurgents using large, hostile crowds for cover,” the release said.

Chesarek spent five hours flying overhead in a British Lynx helicopter identifying targets and covering the British troops on the ground, the release said.

“Given the serious threat to the forces on the ground, and the inability to return fire given the crowds of protesters, Chesarek elected to fly repeated passes at very low level, under heavy small-arms fire and at least one near-miss from an RPG, in an attempt to distract and disperse the crowds,” according to the release.

Chesarek is currently the weapons and tactics instructor for the squadron.

Harrison Bergeron’s War

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2007 at 11:18 AM

Below is an example of the rules under which the British military must operate, and regrettably, ours appears to be also. Why even give our guys guns? Who in Washington is worried that mobs who aid those firing on Americans might get hurt?

It is patently unjust for our soldiers, marines, sailors, and air men–the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen–to be made into little more than targets, but this cowardice from our leadership is only one of the factors on which our enemy depends.

If Israel and the United States (and now the UK) would stop worrying about who might be offended by manly self-defense and get serious about punishing those who would enslave or slaughter us, this Global War on a Tactic would end rather quickly. If people in that crowd knew that someone firing on Americans from among them would bring the quick obliteration of their geographic location, that crowd would either stop the jihadist themselves or disperse, leaving the mujahideen without “civilian” cover.

And if such strength would have been demonstrated the last three years, we would not have sacrificed three thousand of our heroes to the gods of political correctness and multiculturalism.

From here.

England’s Queen Elizabeth II awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross to a U.S. pilot for the first time since World War II during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on March 21, according to a Corps release.

Marine Maj. William Chesarek was serving as an exchange officer with England’s 847 Naval Air Squadron in Amarah, Iraq, last year when British forces on the ground came under “repeated attack from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from insurgents using large, hostile crowds for cover,” the release said.

Chesarek spent five hours flying overhead in a British Lynx helicopter identifying targets and covering the British troops on the ground, the release said.

“Given the serious threat to the forces on the ground, and the inability to return fire given the crowds of protesters, Chesarek elected to fly repeated passes at very low level, under heavy small-arms fire and at least one near-miss from an RPG, in an attempt to distract and disperse the crowds,” according to the release.

Chesarek is currently the weapons and tactics instructor for the squadron.

Reading this makes one nostalgic for the good old days…

In Dhimma, Pact of Umar, The truth about Islam on March 20, 2007 at 12:10 PM

…when Infidels knew their place.

Don’t worry, it’s coming soon to a Western nation near you. On the Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule, from here.

Below is commentary apparently from the web site’s author. It should be noted that whether or not such treatment is “comparable” to that from Christian lands, the non-Muslims who agreed to submit to such an arrangement had only two other choices: conversion or death.

Also, besides the abject humiliation and subjugation codified here, there were many other atrocities committed against these “protected” peoples. These stipulations are consistent with the Qur’anic commands to fight against and subdue and humiliate non-Muslims to make the world Islam.

After the rapid expansion of the Muslim dominion in the 7th century, Muslims leaders were required to work out a way of dealing with Non-Muslims, who remained in the majority in many areas for centuries. The solution was to develop the notion of the “dhimma”, or “protected person”. The Dhimmi were required to pay an extra tax [. . .] The Pact of Umar is supposed to have been the peace accord offered by the Caliph Umar to the Christians of Syria, a “pact” which formed the patter[n] of later interaction.

We heard from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows: When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows:

In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:

We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks’ cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.

We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.

We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor [h]ide him from the Muslims.

We shall not teach the Qur’an to our children.

We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.

We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.

We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair. We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas.

We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our persons.

We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.

We shall not sell fermented drinks.

We shall clip the fronts of our heads.

We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists

We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices when following our dead. We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets. We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.

We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.

We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.

(When I brought the letter to Umar, may God be pleased with him, he added, “We shall not strike a Muslim.”)

We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct.

If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition.

Umar ibn al-Khittab replied: Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are: “They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims,” and “Whoever strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this pact.”

from Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, pp. 229-230.

[This was a from hand out at an Islamic History Class at the University of Edinburgh in 1979. Source of translation not given.]

Reading this makes one nostalgic for the good old days…

In Dhimma, Pact of Umar, The truth about Islam on March 20, 2007 at 11:10 AM

…when Infidels knew their place.

Don’t worry, it’s coming soon to a Western nation near you. On the Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule, from here.

[Below is commentary apparently from the web site’s author. It should be noted that whether or not such treatment is “comparable” to that from Christian lands, the non-Muslims who agreed to submit to such an arrangement had only two other choices: conversion or death. Also, besides the abject humliation and subjugation codified here, there were many other atrocities committed against these “protected” peoples. Finally, these stipulations are consistent with the Qur’anic commands to fight against, subdue, and humiliate non-Muslims in making the world Islam.]

After the rapid expansion of the Muslim dominion in the 7th century, Muslims leaders were required to work out a way of dealing with Non-Muslims, who remained in the majority in many areas for centuries. The solution was to develop the notion of the “dhimma”, or “protected person”. The Dhimmi were required to pay an extra tax, but usually they were unmolested. This compares well with the treatment meted out to non-Christians in Christian Europe. The Pact of Umar is supposed to have been the peace accord offered by the Caliph Umar to the Christians of Syria, a “pact” which formed the patter[n] of later interaction.

We heard from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows: When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows:

In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:

We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks’ cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.

We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.

We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.

We shall not teach the Qur’an to our children.

We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.

We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.

We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair. We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas.

We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our- persons.

We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.

We shall not sell fermented drinks.

We shall clip the fronts of our heads.

We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists

We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices when following our dead. We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets. We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.

We shall not take slaves who have beenallotted to Muslims.

We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.

(When I brought the letter to Umar, may God be pleased with him, he added, “We shall not strike a Muslim.”)

We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct.

If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition.

Umar ibn al-Khittab replied: Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are: “They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims,” and “Whoever strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this pact.”

from Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, pp. 229-230.

[This was a from hand out at an Islamic History Class at the University of Edinburgh in 1979. Source of translation not given.]

Good Timing

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2007 at 2:25 AM

“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Liberty, or give me death!” So declared Patrick Henry two hundred thirty years ago.

From VDH:

The phrase “300 Spartans” evokes not only the ancient battle of Thermopylae, but also the larger idea of fighting for freedom against all odds — a notion subsequently to be enshrined through some 2500 years of Western civilization.

Even today we remember the power of the Spartans’ defiance. “Come and take them,” they tell the Persian emissaries who demand their arms. “Then we will fight in the shade,” the Spartans boast when warned that the horde of Persian arrows will soon blot out the very sunlight. “Go tell the Spartans that here we lie obedient to their commands” the tombstone of their dead reads.

In 480, an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved unstoppable on its way west and southward until it reached the narrow pass at Thermopylae (“The Warm Gates”) in northern Greece. There a collection of 7,000 Greeks had blocked the way. They hoped to stop Xerxes’ horde outright — or at least allow enough time for their fellow countrymen to their rear to mobilize a sufficient defense of the homeland.

Among the many Greek contingents was a special elite force of 300 Spartans under their King Leonidas — a spearhead that offered the other Greeks at Thermopylae some promise that they could still bar the advance of the vastly superior invader. And that hope proved real for two days of hard fighting. The vastly outnumbered, but heavily-armed Greek infantrymen in their phalanx — taking advantage of the narrow terrain and their massed tactics — savagely beat back wave after wave of advancing Persian foot soldiers and cavalry.

But on the third day of battle, Leonidas’s Greeks were betrayed by a local shepherd Ephialtes, who showed the Persians an alternate route over the mountains that led to the rear of the Greek position. When he realized that he was nearly surrounded, Leonidas nevertheless made a critical decision to stay and fight, while ordering most of the other various allies to flee the encirclement to organize the growing Greek resistance to the south.

Meanwhile the King and his doomed 300 Spartans, together with other small groups of surrounded Thespians and Thebans, would indeed battle to buy the Greeks time. They ranged further out from the pass on this third and last day of battle — at first with spears and swords, finally with teeth and nails —killing scores more of Persians. The last few Spartan survivors were buried under a sea of Persian arrows. The body of Leonidas was found among the corpses, his head soon impaled on a stick as a macabre reminder of the wages of resistance to the Great King of Persia.

The Greeks took encouragement from the unprecedented sacrifice of a Spartan King and his royal guard on their behalf. And so a few weeks later at the sea battle of Salamis near Athens — and then again the next year at the great infantry collision on the plains of Plataea — the Greeks defeated, and eventually destroyed, the Persian invaders. The rallying cry of the victors was Thermopylae, the noble sacrifice of the final stand of the outnumbered Greeks, and especially the courage of the fallen Three Hundred Spartans under King Leonidas.

So almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. More specifically, the Western idea that soldiers themselves decide where, how, and against whom they will fight was contrasted against the Eastern notion of despotism and monarchy — freedom proving the stronger idea as the more courageous fighting of the Greeks at Thermopylae, and their later victories at Salamis and Plataea attested.

Greek writers and poets such as Simonides and Herodotus were fascinated by the Greek sacrifice against Xerxes, and especially the heroism of Leonidas and his men. And subsequently throughout Western literature poets as diverse as Lord Byron and A.E. Houseman have likewise paid homage to the Spartan last stand — and this universal idea of Western soldiers willing to die as free men rather than to submit to tyranny. Steven Pressfield’s novel Gates of Fire and the earlier Hollywood movie The 300 Spartans both were based on the Greek defense of the pass at Thermopylae.

Recently, a variety of Hollywood films — from Troy to Alexander the Great — has treated a variety of themes from classical Greek literature and theater. But 300 is unique, a sui generis in both spirit and methodology. The script is not an attempt in typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic book graphics and captions. Miller’s illustrated novelette of the battle adapts themes loosely from the well-known story of the Greek defense, but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture.

So the film is indeed inspired by the comic book; and in some sense its muscular warriors, virtual reality sets, and computer-generated landscapes recall the look and feel of Robert Rodriquez’s screen version of Sin City. Yet the collaboration of Director Zack Snyder and screenwriters Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon is much more of a hybrid, since the script, dialogue, cinematography, and acting all recall scenes of the battle right from Herodotus’s account.

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.

The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient.

Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.

But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.

Good Timing

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2007 at 2:25 AM

“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Liberty, or give me death!” So declared Patrick Henry two hundred thirty years ago.

From VDH:

The phrase “300 Spartans” evokes not only the ancient battle of Thermopylae, but also the larger idea of fighting for freedom against all odds — a notion subsequently to be enshrined through some 2500 years of Western civilization.

Even today we remember the power of the Spartans’ defiance. “Come and take them,” they tell the Persian emissaries who demand their arms. “Then we will fight in the shade,” the Spartans boast when warned that the horde of Persian arrows will soon blot out the very sunlight. “Go tell the Spartans that here we lie obedient to their commands” the tombstone of their dead reads.

In 480, an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved unstoppable on its way west and southward until it reached the narrow pass at Thermopylae (“The Warm Gates”) in northern Greece. There a collection of 7,000 Greeks had blocked the way. They hoped to stop Xerxes’ horde outright — or at least allow enough time for their fellow countrymen to their rear to mobilize a sufficient defense of the homeland.

Among the many Greek contingents was a special elite force of 300 Spartans under their King Leonidas — a spearhead that offered the other Greeks at Thermopylae some promise that they could still bar the advance of the vastly superior invader. And that hope proved real for two days of hard fighting. The vastly outnumbered, but heavily-armed Greek infantrymen in their phalanx — taking advantage of the narrow terrain and their massed tactics — savagely beat back wave after wave of advancing Persian foot soldiers and cavalry.

But on the third day of battle, Leonidas’s Greeks were betrayed by a local shepherd Ephialtes, who showed the Persians an alternate route over the mountains that led to the rear of the Greek position. When he realized that he was nearly surrounded, Leonidas nevertheless made a critical decision to stay and fight, while ordering most of the other various allies to flee the encirclement to organize the growing Greek resistance to the south.

Meanwhile the King and his doomed 300 Spartans, together with other small groups of surrounded Thespians and Thebans, would indeed battle to buy the Greeks time. They ranged further out from the pass on this third and last day of battle — at first with spears and swords, finally with teeth and nails —killing scores more of Persians. The last few Spartan survivors were buried under a sea of Persian arrows. The body of Leonidas was found among the corpses, his head soon impaled on a stick as a macabre reminder of the wages of resistance to the Great King of Persia.

The Greeks took encouragement from the unprecedented sacrifice of a Spartan King and his royal guard on their behalf. And so a few weeks later at the sea battle of Salamis near Athens — and then again the next year at the great infantry collision on the plains of Plataea — the Greeks defeated, and eventually destroyed, the Persian invaders. The rallying cry of the victors was Thermopylae, the noble sacrifice of the final stand of the outnumbered Greeks, and especially the courage of the fallen Three Hundred Spartans under King Leonidas.

So almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. More specifically, the Western idea that soldiers themselves decide where, how, and against whom they will fight was contrasted against the Eastern notion of despotism and monarchy — freedom proving the stronger idea as the more courageous fighting of the Greeks at Thermopylae, and their later victories at Salamis and Plataea attested.

Greek writers and poets such as Simonides and Herodotus were fascinated by the Greek sacrifice against Xerxes, and especially the heroism of Leonidas and his men. And subsequently throughout Western literature poets as diverse as Lord Byron and A.E. Houseman have likewise paid homage to the Spartan last stand — and this universal idea of Western soldiers willing to die as free men rather than to submit to tyranny. Steven Pressfield’s novel Gates of Fire and the earlier Hollywood movie The 300 Spartans both were based on the Greek defense of the pass at Thermopylae.

Recently, a variety of Hollywood films — from Troy to Alexander the Great — has treated a variety of themes from classical Greek literature and theater. But 300 is unique, a sui generis in both spirit and methodology. The script is not an attempt in typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic book graphics and captions. Miller’s illustrated novelette of the battle adapts themes loosely from the well-known story of the Greek defense, but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture.

So the film is indeed inspired by the comic book; and in some sense its muscular warriors, virtual reality sets, and computer-generated landscapes recall the look and feel of Robert Rodriquez’s screen version of Sin City. Yet the collaboration of Director Zack Snyder and screenwriters Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon is much more of a hybrid, since the script, dialogue, cinematography, and acting all recall scenes of the battle right from Herodotus’s account.

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.

The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient.

Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.

But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.

Good Timing

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2007 at 1:25 AM

“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Liberty, or give me death!” So declared Patrick Henry two hundred thirty years ago.

From VDH:

The phrase “300 Spartans” evokes not only the ancient battle of Thermopylae, but also the larger idea of fighting for freedom against all odds — a notion subsequently to be enshrined through some 2500 years of Western civilization.

Even today we remember the power of the Spartans’ defiance. “Come and take them,” they tell the Persian emissaries who demand their arms. “Then we will fight in the shade,” the Spartans boast when warned that the horde of Persian arrows will soon blot out the very sunlight. “Go tell the Spartans that here we lie obedient to their commands” the tombstone of their dead reads.

In 480, an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved unstoppable on its way west and southward until it reached the narrow pass at Thermopylae (“The Warm Gates”) in northern Greece. There a collection of 7,000 Greeks had blocked the way. They hoped to stop Xerxes’ horde outright — or at least allow enough time for their fellow countrymen to their rear to mobilize a sufficient defense of the homeland.

Among the many Greek contingents was a special elite force of 300 Spartans under their King Leonidas — a spearhead that offered the other Greeks at Thermopylae some promise that they could still bar the advance of the vastly superior invader. And that hope proved real for two days of hard fighting. The vastly outnumbered, but heavily-armed Greek infantrymen in their phalanx — taking advantage of the narrow terrain and their massed tactics — savagely beat back wave after wave of advancing Persian foot soldiers and cavalry.

But on the third day of battle, Leonidas’s Greeks were betrayed by a local shepherd Ephialtes, who showed the Persians an alternate route over the mountains that led to the rear of the Greek position. When he realized that he was nearly surrounded, Leonidas nevertheless made a critical decision to stay and fight, while ordering most of the other various allies to flee the encirclement to organize the growing Greek resistance to the south.

Meanwhile the King and his doomed 300 Spartans, together with other small groups of surrounded Thespians and Thebans, would indeed battle to buy the Greeks time. They ranged further out from the pass on this third and last day of battle — at first with spears and swords, finally with teeth and nails —killing scores more of Persians. The last few Spartan survivors were buried under a sea of Persian arrows. The body of Leonidas was found among the corpses, his head soon impaled on a stick as a macabre reminder of the wages of resistance to the Great King of Persia.

The Greeks took encouragement from the unprecedented sacrifice of a Spartan King and his royal guard on their behalf. And so a few weeks later at the sea battle of Salamis near Athens — and then again the next year at the great infantry collision on the plains of Plataea — the Greeks defeated, and eventually destroyed, the Persian invaders. The rallying cry of the victors was Thermopylae, the noble sacrifice of the final stand of the outnumbered Greeks, and especially the courage of the fallen Three Hundred Spartans under King Leonidas.

So almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. More specifically, the Western idea that soldiers themselves decide where, how, and against whom they will fight was contrasted against the Eastern notion of despotism and monarchy — freedom proving the stronger idea as the more courageous fighting of the Greeks at Thermopylae, and their later victories at Salamis and Plataea attested.

Greek writers and poets such as Simonides and Herodotus were fascinated by the Greek sacrifice against Xerxes, and especially the heroism of Leonidas and his men. And subsequently throughout Western literature poets as diverse as Lord Byron and A.E. Houseman have likewise paid homage to the Spartan last stand — and this universal idea of Western soldiers willing to die as free men rather than to submit to tyranny. Steven Pressfield’s novel Gates of Fire and the earlier Hollywood movie The 300 Spartans both were based on the Greek defense of the pass at Thermopylae.

Recently, a variety of Hollywood films — from Troy to Alexander the Great — has treated a variety of themes from classical Greek literature and theater. But 300 is unique, a sui generis in both spirit and methodology. The script is not an attempt in typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic book graphics and captions. Miller’s illustrated novelette of the battle adapts themes loosely from the well-known story of the Greek defense, but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture.

So the film is indeed inspired by the comic book; and in some sense its muscular warriors, virtual reality sets, and computer-generated landscapes recall the look and feel of Robert Rodriquez’s screen version of Sin City. Yet the collaboration of Director Zack Snyder and screenwriters Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon is much more of a hybrid, since the script, dialogue, cinematography, and acting all recall scenes of the battle right from Herodotus’s account.

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.

The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient.

Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.

But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.

President Bush’s lack of historical, moral, and religious clarity

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2007 at 5:09 AM

A society founded on a religion that commands: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” looks decidedly different from one in which the Official Faith commands: “…kill the unbelievers wherever you find them….” Because America is an heir of the former tradition, it is at its core a “shining City on a hill.” The love of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness enshrined in our country’s founding documents is a natural outgrowth of the doctrines of Christ.

As for the latter tradition, it is clear that President Bush is either unwilling or unable to admit its true nature. While he mischaracterizes Islam as a “great world religion”–equating it with Christianity–the Religion of Death grows in political power around the world. More and more of the Majority of Moderate Muslims we hear of so often remains silent, uses democracy to move every land in which it lives toward Shari’a, and Infidel states cower as they are overwhelmed, intimidated, and murdered within their own borders by the Religionists of Peace.

This is why Americans (excluding those “citizens” who in reality hate America and are therefore undeserving of the appellation) are becoming less supportive of the direction of our war effort. Even if unfamiliar with Islam’s “sacred” texts and historical bloodlust, when the People see their leaders repeatedly giving money to, cajoling, and praising the ideology of those who kill their sons and daughters, they instinctively know a change is needed.

Our nation would enthusiastically embrace a leader with clarity, courage, and a love for America (which disqualifies most Leftists, but since most Republicans are that In Name Only, we may end up with four more years of Clinton anyway).

Following is a devastating look at our Global War on a Tactic and how President Bush has unnecessarily sacrificed too many of our Bravest and Best to the god of multiculturalism and his lack of historical, moral, and religious clarity.

What Oriana Fallaci does with passion and common sense, John Lewis does with an apt historical example.

No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism, by John Lewis (courtesy Robert Spencer, links in the original).

Author’s note: This article was adapted from a lecture I presented at the Ayn Rand Institute’s OCON conference “The Jihad Against the West,” in Boston, MA, on October 21, 2006.

The Greek historian Thucydides, writing about the calamitous war that had destroyed his own world, made an important observation about the causes of historical events: Even though circumstances may change, human nature remains the same; and certain human elements—especially moral and psychological factors—are at the root of all wars. We can disagree with Thucydides about the identity of those factors, and reject his pessimistic view of human nature, but we will benefit from accepting his challenge to rise above particular circumstances and focus on the principles of human action that are common to all time. Differences in technology, politics, or economics will always remain secondary to the ideas that motivate aggressors to launch bloody attacks and that empower—or restrain—defenders opposing those attacks.

In that spirit, let us begin by considering an event of cataclysmic proportions, a deadly attack against Americans, and then examine two possible responses to it. This approach will show us that the crisis we face today—a series of highly motivated attacks against the heart of civilization—is not unique, can be understood, and can be ended—if we choose to understand and end it.

The attack under consideration kills thousands of Americans. Foreign governments, well known to us, have sponsored such attacks for years in their pursuit of a continental-scale totalitarian empire. The fire motivating the slaughter is a militaristic, religious-political ideology that values war as a demonstration of loyalty to a deity, demands obedience to its spokesmen, and imposes its edicts over millions of people. Thousands of individuals, indoctrinated as youths, are eager to engage in suicide attacks, and many more are willing to die through acquiescence and submission, should the state so demand. The enemy soldier is highly motivated, thoroughly brainwashed, and willing to die for his god and his cause. The enemy’s children and soldiers memorize words such as these:

The battlefield is where our army displays its true character, conquering whenever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread our deity’s reign far and wide, so that the enemy may look up in awe to his august virtues.1

They accept, as moral imperatives, ideas such as these:

[F]ight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war; but if they repent, and practice our way, then accept them. . . . You shall fight back against those who do not believe in God, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what God and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth.2

Millions of people embrace such injunctions as unquestioned commandments. Their suicidal attacks continue for years.

How should Americans respond to this attack? Under the pressures of a deadly emergency, American leaders must make important decisions, and the American people must decide whether they will support those decisions. Let us consider and evaluate two options, and ask which we should use.

To set course for one possible response, the President addresses the American people, and identifies the enemy nations involved. He asks for, and receives, a formal declaration of war from Congress. He pledges to achieve victory as quickly as possible, a goal which he defines as the unconditional surrender of the enemy regimes, and a fundamental repudiation of war by those involved.

Americans mount a vigorous offense against the center of the enemy’s power. Waves of bombers obliterate dozens of enemy cities. His food is choked off, his military is decimated, his industry is bombarded, his ships are sunk, his harbors are mined—his people are psychologically shattered. In a single night, a hundred thousand civilians die in a firestorm in his capital. Americans drop leaflets telling the enemy population which cities could be next. Civilians are immersed in propaganda from their government, telling them that they are winning the war—yet they cower defenselessly while American bombers level their homes.

One of our generals announces his personal goal: to “kill the bastards.” We name our final drive against the enemy, “Operation Downfall.” A force of overpowering magnitude amasses on the enemy’s borders, as thousands of American bombers pulverize his cities. The President and two foreign allies issue an ultimatum that includes these words:

The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the enemy armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the enemy homeland. . . .

The time has come for the enemy nation to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought them to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason. . . .

Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay. . . .

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world. . . .

Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established. . . .

We call upon the enemy to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative is prompt and utter destruction.3

When the enemy balks at the ultimatum, atomic bombs are dropped on his cities. He surrenders, thus acknowledging the reality of his defeat and making a political decision to cease fighting. He orders his reluctant soldiers to lay down their arms. The American military occupies the defeated nation. We censor the media, impose reforms on schools, dismantle economic cartels, efface militaristic language from discourse at all levels, and write a political constitution which they are forced to accept. We tell them, pointedly and publicly, that they are defeated, and that we have no obligations to them. When they face starvation, we remind them that their miseries are their own fault. We charge them for many of the costs of the occupation. Not one dime of aid arrives until they demonstrate their complete surrender, in word and in action, including their repudiation of the militaristic ideology that motivated their attacks.

This principled, all-out merciless offense is one possible response to the sneak attack. Now let us consider a second, very different, response.

The President addresses the nation, identifies the enemy as the particular people involved in the attacks, and defines them by the tactics they used. He makes no declaration of war, but pledges to lead us to victory in the war he intends to wage, which, he says, will be long. He defines victory as democracy for the nations behind the attacks. A week later, he reminds us that those who practice the religion of the attackers “must feel comfortable” in America.4 Two months later, he invites leaders of the religion to the White House, for a prayer meeting.5

Our leaders realize that the particular attackers have bases in a poor, isolated country, so we invade that country, and drive its government into the surrounding mountains. We name our campaign “Operation Infinite Justice,” but when adherents of the attackers’ religion complain, we change it to “Operation Enduring Freedom.” We drop bombs, but they are precision-guided to avoid hitting civilians and religious buildings. Many of our bombers drop food. The enemy flees to a neighboring country, ruled by a nuclear-armed dictator whom we call an “ally” and whose borders we do not cross. Within this “ally’s” borders, schools train more attackers, who flood across the borders, cause more carnage, and kill more Americans.

In search of democracy, and following our desire to free foreign peoples from oppression, we attack and depose another dictator in the area. This secular thug, whom we had once armed, had fought a long war against a neighboring country founded upon the same hostile ideology as those who attacked us. The people we liberate from him establish a government based on that same hostile ideology—which we allow, since our goal was to enable them to vote—and they strengthen ties with other nations founded on this ideology. One of our generals states his own view of our goal: to foster the enemy’s “ability to compromise on their political goals, accommodate their sectarian differences and demonstrate to ordinary people that a democratic central government can serve their needs.”6 We name our campaign “Operation Freedom for Them.”

We act with great restraint, establishing rules of engagement that limit the use of force by our military. We apologize when we hurt civilians, prosecute our soldiers if they humiliate prisoners, assign correspondents to military units to monitor their actions, and send lawyers with our troops to ensure that they “follow the rules.” When captured Americans are beheaded on television, we do not close down the broadcasts or attack the governments financing them—we search for the particular killers. When the enemy acquires nuclear power plants, we refer to the country providing him with those plants as a “friend” and an “ally.” When the enemy uses banks to finance his war against us, we call on our lawyers to “freeze his assets,” but never call on our generals to destroy his capital. We remind the people in his nation incessantly that our war is not with them, but rather with “extremists” who have “hijacked a great religion.”

Now, which of these two responses—the all-out, merciless, military offense, or the restrained, diplomatic, semi-military approach, should we choose? Let us evaluate them, according to several ideas widely accepted today.

First, we are told today that only so-called “proportional” force is morally proper. We need to wage a “just war,” one founded on altruistic moral principles, using strictly limited force, for strictly limited ends, aimed at the good of others. The well-being of others—including the enemy’s people—must be our concern, and this requires severe self-restraint on our part. That the enemy does not act this way when he kills our people is of no concern. According to these moral views, we must hold the well-being of others as an absolute, regardless of the consequences; we must be willing to place our soldiers in mortal danger in order to protect enemy civilians—even though they often aid and abet enemy fighters. A military offense for our own self-protection would transgress the bounds of a “just war,” says the accepted wisdom.

This moral obligation to use our force only in limited degrees and always for the good of others raises two questions: What, in this view, is the right amount of limited force? And what constitutes the good of others? These two questions are answered by means of the methodology of pragmatism (i.e., doing what “works” for the moment) and the morality of altruism (i.e., the morality of “otherism”). We will use these two widely accepted philosophical positions to direct our response to those attacking us.

Following these principles, we will have to determine our policies and strategies on a case-by-case basis. Our actions must be pragmatic and adaptable, contingent on local circumstances and the consensus of others. The right amount of force is that which does not upset the enemy too much; if we use too much of our power, we will cause hard feelings and a desire for vengeance in the enemy, which will breed a new generation of enemy soldiers. We should, in this view, respond with compassion and understanding, engaging in “dialogue” with him, building power plants and digging toilets in his land rather than attacking him. This, we are told, will “win hearts and minds.” Based on these practical and moral considerations, the first option, the all-out offense, must be rejected; the restrained response is best.

Second, we are told that we must not declare war against a nation, only against its leadership or particular miscreants. Most people, we hear, do not want war; there is a “universal hunger for liberty,” and people will regale us with flowers if we “liberate” them from oppression. We are told that “freedom” is “God’s gift to all people,” and that our “calling” is to create the conditions by which others can embrace this gift. Their freedom—meaning, we are told, democracy—is the root of our security; and protecting their “right” to vote—not defeating them—must be our goal. We must grant them the freedom to establish any government they wish—even one akin to the regimes of our attackers—if it expresses their democratic desires. Again, the offensive response must be shunned; the restrained approach is our only choice.

Third, we are told that an overwhelming offense fails to respect the culture of a foreign nation. All cultures are equal, multiculturalism teaches us, and each must be equally respected. For us to claim a sense of superiority over other cultures would reveal a “Eurocentric bias” that fails to acknowledge “multi-variant” forms of logic, and the relativism of all values. According to altruism, this means that other cultures are due more respect than our own, since we must subordinate our own people and resources to their needs, even if those cultures actively oppose our own selfish interests. According to pragmatism, respecting their “right” to “self-determination” rather than defeating them will make them feel better and thus momentarily quell the violence. Our soldiers must be trained to respect the cultural differences between themselves and the enemy. When enemy soldiers are captured, for instance, they must be given books sympathetic to their own positions, and be allowed to practice their cultural-religious rituals.

(The same strategy, we hear, must be used inside America, against people of the same ideology as the enemy. An American police officer recently told me that he undergoes “sensitivity training” to “understand” and “respect” the cultural basis of rampant domestic violence in a neighborhood he patrols. He is cautioned to avoid “cultural imperialism” and “racism,” the sin of thinking that American culture is superior because it forbids the beating of wives. A man in Colorado, sentenced to jail for enslaving an Indonesian woman, said: “Your Honor, I am not here to apologize, for I cannot apologize for things I did not do and crimes I did not commit. The state has criminalized these basic [religious] behaviors.” The man said he treated the woman the way any family of his cultural convictions would treat a daughter: by locking her in the basement.7)

According to multiculturalism, a serious military offense would be anathema. We must allow peoples of other cultures to express their “cultural identities”—whether that involves eating falafels, chanting “Death to America,” or detonating their children in Israeli restaurants.

If one observes that all of this makes it impossible to develop a principled approach to an ever-deepening crisis, the philosophy of pragmatism has an explanation. The pragmatic world-view tells us that reality is messy and contradictory; to deal with a reality that is constantly shifting, we need flexibility, not firm principles. To be principled is to be an inflexible “ideologue.” To be practical is to shift with the “flux” that surrounds us, reacting on the range-of-the-moment, negotiating at every turn, compromising with anyone and everyone. We need to respond to each situation as a unique, particular event, without connection to other events. There are no lessons to be drawn from history; even the world of five years ago differs fundamentally from the world we face now. Politics is all trial and error.

Perhaps we should try “shuttle diplomacy”: appeasing one dictator here, buying off one over there, making deals with others, calling on allies to “put pressure on” another. The only absolute is that we must not engage in focused, principled military action toward a firm, self-interested, pro-American victory. The second, flexible, response is, again, the right choice—according to pragmatism.

Altruism leads to the same conclusion. To fight for our own benefit—to elevate our lives over those of our enemies—is almost universally condemned today as selfish and thus “immoral.” A moral war, according to altruism, is a war fought self-sacrificially, for the good of others, especially for the weak. It is only by a continuous policy of aiding others that we can rise to moral goodness. Even restrained, limited military action is wrong, if taken for our own benefit. In this view, a strong power is good only when it recognizes the moral claims of those in need—even enemies and their supporters. The route to peace is not through victory, since altruism (“otherism”) cannot abide the defeat of others. The “path to tomorrow” is through the sacrifice of our own wealth, values, and lives to the needs of others—even those who threaten us. Again, their freedom must be our goal—their prosperity must be our mission—if we wish to be “good.”

Pragmatism and altruism dictate American foreign policy today—as they have done for over fifty years. To be practical is to be pragmatic, and to be moral is to be altruistic—these are the accepted axioms of the modern day. An all-out offensive response, in this view, would be an utter disaster—pragmatically because it holds to principles in defiance of constantly shifting reality, and morally because it seeks the enemy’s defeat rather than his benefit. On the premises of pragmatism and altruism, the measured, proportional, restrained approach is our only option.

Students of history, of course, will recognize that the attack I posed—and the two responses—were not hypothetical. Such an attack has been launched against America twice in the past two generations, and both options have been tried. On the premises of pragmatism and altruism, the first response should have led to escalating hostilities and a new generation of war against America, and the second should have ended the attacks. The results, however, have been precisely the opposite. Let us proceed to see why.

On December 7, 1941, we were attacked by Japan, a country then governed by a militaristic, religious ideology, in pursuit of a divine empire, with indoctrinated soldiers who soon used suicide tactics. We chose the ruthless, offensive response. Three years and eight months later, the Japanese surrendered, their country in ruins, their people starving. Five years after the attacks, Japan had a constitution that included the following (from its famous Article 9): “[T]he Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation. . . . The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Sixty years after the U.S. ended two generations of aggressive Japanese warfare, Japan remains free, productive, and friendly to America. The Japanese have not abandoned their traditions—nor has anyone asked them to do so—but they no longer use them to kill and enslave others. Rather than seek our destruction, Japan has become a staunch political ally, a robust free-market competitor, and an invaluable economic producer. Rather than build bombs and fighter planes with which to attack us, the Japanese build cars and computers that contribute immensely to our own high standard of living.

In perfect contrast, the second option—the pragmatic, altruistic, limited-military response—has been the basic approach of the Bush Administration to the attacks of September 11, 2001. What are the results?

Afghanistan continues to be strafed by holy warriors trained in Pakistan—a nuclear-armed dictatorship that we have placed off-limits to our own forces. Iraq’s insurgency continues, with Shiite militias, no longer restrained either by Saddam Hussein or by us, growing to fill the political vacuum. Iran is emboldened, its fundamentalist leadership ever more vocal, its program of nuclear development open and expanding. Saudi Arabia—our alleged ally—funds religious schools that teach hatred of the West and train an endless stream of jihadists. We pay two-billion dollars a year in tribute to Egypt, so that they will refrain from attacking Israel. Sudan engages in genocide under theocratic rule, while Somalia, Nigeria, and other countries are following suit, their tribal clerics doling out Islamic law under trees. Syria—a second-generation thugocracy on the verge of collapse a few years ago—has been resurrected and emboldened. Hezbollah has taken over Southern Lebanon. The Gaza is a new terror enclave under the democratically elected terror-cult Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood is winning elections in Egypt. Other anti-Western militant groups are winning elections and subverting Western values from Spain to Indonesia. Across the world—including Canada, England, and the U.S.—Muslim cells plot more attacks and plan political takeovers, all the while hiding behind constitutional protections that they have sworn to destroy. Anyone daring to renounce or criticize Islam may have to live forever underground, in fear of murder sanctioned by religious decree.

Five years to the month after 9/11, and in stark contrast to the situation in Japan five years after Pearl Harbor, an Islamic cleric, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, a teacher at an Islamic school in Java, and a killer in the Bali bombing of 2002 who was released from prison in June 2006, now openly promotes a new constitution for Indonesia:

We demand an Islamic state, and not some form of Islamisation of society. We want the state to be Islamic, with Islamic leaders who have the courage and will to implement the Islamic law in total. . . .

We want an Islamic state where Islamic law is not just in the books but enforced, and enforced with determination. There is no space and no room for democratic consultation. The Islamic law is set and fixed, so why discuss it? Just implement it!

Right now we are drafting our own constitutional amendments for Indonesia, the framework for an Indonesian Islamic state where Islamic laws are enforced. Indonesians must understand that there is no Islamic state without the enforcement of Islamic laws.8

This is Islamic Totalitarianism—State Islam—rule by Islamic Law—and it is on the rise. While this cleric plots an Islamic State, people from countries where children are taught that Jews are born of pigs and monkeys, and that Israel is “occupied territory” and fair game for attack, rail against so-called anti-Muslim “prejudice.” Inside America, leaders of hostile countries give speeches to build “bridges of understanding” while building nuclear bombs overseas.9 Adherents of Islam claim to be victims of persecution, assertions they make on national television, from pulpits, and in tenured university positions.

Meanwhile, a state of siege is being more deeply entrenched inside America every day. We are losing the war by institutionalizing the loss of our freedoms, searching the sneakers of senior citizens in wheelchairs in order to avoid confronting bellicose dictatorships overseas. In the minds of many people, the Bush administration’s allegedly “offensive” strategy has discredited the very idea of genuinely offensive war for American self-interest, which it pledged to fight, and then betrayed to its core. Our soldiers come home maimed or dead, and military offense, rather than timidity, takes the blame. To compensate for our weakness overseas, we are building electric fences and security barriers to keep the world out, accepting the medieval ideal of walled towns under constant threat of attack, rather than destroying the source of such threats.

In short, the second, pragmatic, altruistic approach has failed. In the five years since 9/11, the motivations behind the Islamic attacks have not been suppressed—and this is the real failure of these policies. The number of particular attacks is not the measure of success or failure. The Islamic Totalitarians remain physically intact, spiritually committed, and politically empowered. The Islamic Totalitarian movement remains—distributed, without the strong central command Al Qaeda once had, but still energized—and it appears like hidden gushers, the jihad bursting forth in seemingly random places by internal pressure from an underground stream. Our acceptance of pragmatism, the policy of short-range trial and error that rejects principles on principle—and altruism, the morality of self-sacrifice—left no other result possible.

The reason for this failure is that every one of the ideas we used to evaluate our options is wrong. In every case, the opposite of today’s “conventional wisdom” is true.

  • A strong offense does not create new enemies; it defeats existing foes. Were this not so, we would be fighting German and Japanese suicide bombers today, while North Korea—undefeated by America—would be peaceful, prosperous, and free.
  • Poverty is not the “root cause” of wars. If it were, poor Mexicans would be attacking America, not begging for jobs at Wal-Mart.
  • Democracy is not a route to freedom—not for the Greeks who voted to kill Socrates, nor for the Romans who acclaimed Caesar, nor for the Germans who elected Hitler.
  • A culture of slavery and suicide is not equal to a culture of freedom and prosperity—not for those who value life.
  • The world is not a flux of contradictions, in which principles do not work. If it were, gravity would not hold, vaccinations would not work, and one would not have a right to one’s life.
  • Being moral does not mean sacrificing for others. It means accepting the American principle of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—and living for one’s own sake.

History is clear: All-out force against fanatical killers is both practical and moral. It led us to our two most important foreign policy successes—the defeats of Germany and Japan in 1945—and to the permanent peace with those nations that we take for granted today. Such a course was practical and moral then, and it is practical and moral now—an affirmation, and a defense, of life and civilization.

Rights-respecting people, those who do not initiate force against others, have a right to defend themselves for their own sakes—because they have a right to live. To do this, they must approach their enemies in a principled, self-interested way. Ayn Rand, in her essay on the nature of government, observed a vital relationship between man’s right to life and his right to self-defense:

The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.10

These words ring especially true in the war against Islamic Totalitarianism. The consequence of our failure to respond forthrightly to these attacks has been precisely to encourage and reward this movement. We have granted it a safe haven, allowed it to claim victory through continued existence, appealed to its apologists who spread anti-American venom, and emboldened those who wish to take up the fight against us. The solution is to renounce altruistic appeasement and pragmatic compromise, to recognize our own value, and to defend our lives by right. We must defeat these enemies, and we can.

Only after we understand that we should defeat these enemies, can we ask how. This point is vital, for the question of moral rightness is logically and psychologically prior to any question of strategy or tactics. If we do not understand that we should defeat them—if we think that we are as bad as they are, or that they have legitimate grievances that justify their attacks, or that we have created a situation that morally demands that we compensate them—then our lack of moral self-confidence will undercut our motivation to fight. But the facts do not warrant such a conclusion. We are morally right and the Islamic Totalitarians are evil—not merely in their methods, but, more fundamentally, in their values and goals. We have a moral responsibility to defeat them—if we want to live. We can and must approach this war with the moral self-confidence of those fighting for civilization itself—for the basic conditions on which human life depends—because that is precisely what is at stake.

Given that we should win, how then must our government confront Islamic Totalitarianism? Let us call again upon the defeat of Japan in 1945 as a valid, and vital, historical precedent.

These two conflicts have many political and military differences, and it would be an error to draw tactical lessons from 1945 and apply them directly to the present conflict. To name one such difference, Americans in 1941 did not have the military capacity to attack Japan directly and overwhelmingly (as they would a few years later); we were not able to bomb Japan, nor defeat its navy quickly. We were forced to use the kind of slow infantry tactics and “island hopping” that would not be necessary today. American ingenuity has created an explosion of technology, and the possibility of heretofore undreamed of tactics, which make it unnecessary for any American to be killed in the fight. That we have the overwhelming capacity to defeat the Islamic Totalitarians militarily is beyond doubt. Yet far from elevating technology to the key issue in winning a war, this illustrates the unequivocal importance of the moral self-confidence—the state of mind that proceeds from an awareness of one’s own moral goodness and efficacy—that is needed to use this weaponry. This is what enabled us to overcome serious material deficiencies and to drive victoriously over the Japanese in 1945. The question today is not whether we have the capacity to win; it is whether we have the self-confidence, and the will, to do so.

The basic similarities between the two conflicts begin with the ideas that motivated the attacks. The Japanese were motivated by a politicized religious ideology—Shintoism—that posited an all-powerful deity, indoctrinated their children, infected every aspect of their culture, and drove them to suicidal military actions that killed millions. An educational rescript of 1890—an Imperial decree, and one of the most influential documents in Japanese history—built this “mytho-religious ideology” into the classroom, making worship of the Emperor and duty to the State into the primary goals of education.11 Japanese people memorized its tenets, and were inculcated with what one Japanese scholar called “socialization for death.”12 A Japanese civilian remarked how, when she heard that the Emperor was going to address his people—an unprecedented event—the words she had memorized as a child rose in her mind: “Should any emergency arise, offer yourself courageously to the State.” Such ideas, deeply internalized and mandated by law, motivated suicide bombers—kamikaze—to throw themselves fanatically against superior U.S. forces, and gave them hope for a final battle over weak-willed Americans. This kamikaze fire was extinguished by the crushing American offensive of 1945.

The Islamic Totalitarian movement has a similar fire burning at its core—an authoritarian, state-centered religion, replete with state-funded educational indoctrination, a massive suicide cult on behalf of the deity and state, and hope for a final battle over the Americans. The key to extinguishing this fire, I submit—the sine qua non required to end the spiral of indoctrination, jihad, and suicidal attacks on the West—is to do what was done against Japan: to break the political power of the state religion. State Islam—Totalitarian Islam—rule by Islamic Law—must be obliterated.

A vital point about politics and government must be remembered here. Government holds a legal monopoly on the use of force in a geographic area. Governments do not make suggestions—they pass and enforce laws. They must do this, in order to protect our freedom to think and speak—but within proper limits, defined by the principle of individual rights and codified in a constitution that is the nation’s fundamental law. The purpose of a proper government is to protect the rights of its citizens—each citizen’s freedom to think and act on his own judgment—by using retaliatory force as necessary against criminals and foreign invaders.

A government that turns its force against its own citizens, especially to impose an ideological doctrine on them, subordinates the rights of individuals to the demands of the State. This is statism—the elevation of the State over the individual, and the inversion of the very purpose of government. Statism is the greatest killer in history—dwarfing all attacks by criminals—precisely because it is motivated by some form of mystical political ideology. Because statists claim an authority that is above the rights of man—whether the Fuehrer’s master race, the communists’ dialectic, or the theocrat’s God—they do not recognize the principle of individual rights or the self-ownership of men on earth; rather, they claim the right to rule men, and to kill with impunity anyone who disobeys the ideology or regime.

What the aforementioned Indonesians—and all of us—must understand is that there is no recognition of individual rights, no legitimate constitution, and thus no freedom, under religious law in any form. The all-encompassing, totalitarian nature of Islamic Law—its claims to divine origin, its commitment to uphold “Allah’s” will, and its ultimate goal of making everyone on earth submit to it—leaves no room for individual rights or freedom. This code is barbaric and tribal, frozen in time for over a thousand years, not open to rational scrutiny but only to unquestioned obedience (as the Indonesian cleric emphasized). To impose this primitive code by force is to inject religion into every aspect of human thought and action—which is the ultimate goal of Islamic Totalitarianism.

To begin to enshrine the inviolability of individual rights as the central principle of government, clerics of all kinds must be stripped of political power. There can be no freedom of thought and speech if those with claims to mystically derived ideas can enforce them coercively. Only by breaking the link between state power and religious belief can the state become a protector of each person’s right to worship or not worship as he wishes; only complete separation of religion and government can enable the government to serve its proper function: to protect each person’s right to think, speak, and act as he chooses.

Given this understanding of the issue, how should we begin to confront Totalitarian Islam? Again, there is precedent in history. The basic principles of a rational policy towards Islamic Totalitarianism—with clear strategic implications—were revealed in a striking telegram sent by the U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes to General Douglas MacArthur, the American commander in Japan, in October, 1945. The telegram established the basic U.S. policy goals towards Shintoism, and laid out, for MacArthur and his subordinates, the basic principles by which those goals were to be achieved:

Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People would not be taxed to support National Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion—National Shinto, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto . . . The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. And the Japanese Government will be required to cease financial and other support of Shinto establishments.

The telegram is clear about the need for separation between religion and state—between an individual’s right to follow Shinto and the government’s power to enforce it. This requirement applies to Islam today (and to Christianity and Judaism) as strongly as it did to Shinto. In regard to Japan, the job involved breaking the link between Shinto and state; in regard to Islamic Totalitarianism the task involves breaking the link between Islam and state. This is the central political issue we face: the complete lack of any conceptual or institutional separation between church and state in Islam, both historically and in the totalitarian movement today.

As for what we should do about this, the 1945 telegram is direct. Here is its opening, rewritten to substitute Islam for Shinto:

Islam, as it is a religion of individuals, is not to be interfered with. Islam, however, insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by any government, is to be done away with.

There is no question here about religious freedom. Individual religious belief is to be left alone—as is all freedom to think and to speak by one’s own judgment—but state religion must be eliminated. It is vital that this principle be understood, stated clearly, and enforced—for this is a precondition of the thorough and permanent defeat of America’s current enemy.

Totalitarian Islam, an ideology that merges state power with religious belief, must go.

But proponents of Islamic Totalitarianism have political power, to some extent, in dozens of nations. Should we attack them all, immediately? No. We need to aim for the political, economic, and ideological center of this movement—the core that embodies its naked essence and that fuels it worldwide. This does not mean finding the particular people who organized the 9/11 attacks. The question is: In which state is Islam most solidly linked with political power, dedicated to the violent spread of Islamic rule, and infused with hatred of America? What state is founded on these ideas, and their practice, as a matter of principle? There is a clear answer, which is known, admittedly or not, by almost everyone today. The political centerpiece of Islamic Totalitarianism today—the state in which Islam is most militantly welded to political power and contempt for America and the West—the world leader in the violent spread of Islam—is Iran.

The Iranian Islamic State was born in an act of war against America—the seizure of the American embassy in 1979—and has chanted “Death to America” ever since. Even Muslims at odds with Iran for sectarian reasons, such as many followers of Osama Bin Laden, draw inspiration from it as they engage in their own jihads against the West. Bin Laden’s most important effect in this regard has been to energize and empower radical Muslims to rise above the petty squabbles between Persian and Arab, and between Sunni and Shiite, to join Iran against the “Great Satan”: America. Hezbollah, Hamas, and company are dependent on Iran for ideological, political, and economic strength. It is Iran that addresses the U.N. as a world leader; it is Iran that is openly committed to acquiring the weapons needed to take control of the Middle East; it is Iran that poses as the defender of Muslims against the West (for instance, through loyal clerics in Iraq); and it is Iran that has gained power since the U.S. removed its strongest regional opponent in Iraq.

The conclusion is inescapable. The road to the defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism begins in Tehran. America, acting alone and with overwhelming force, must destroy the Iranian Islamic State now. It must do so openly, and indeed spectacularly, for the entire world to see, for this is the only way to demonstrate the spectacular failure and incompetence of the Islamic fundamentalist movement as a whole.

This demonstration must embody the virtue of integrity—the unity of principles and practice. Intellectually, we must state our intentions and reasons openly, without hiding behind timid diplomatic-speak. Physically, we must act decisively, and with all the force we deem necessary, to eliminate the Iranian regime as quickly as possible, and with the least risk to American soldiers. Only when the world sees this demonstration of American resolve will America begin to see peace and security.

It is vital that Americans take this action for the right moral reasons, openly stated. We must not seek legitimacy for the removal of the Iranian Islamic State beyond the principle of our right to defend ourselves. To pretend that something more than this principle is needed would be to deny the sufficiency of the principle. To base our reasons on the alleged good of others, especially on any alleged benefits to the people of the Middle East, would be to accept a position of moral dhimmitude: the moral subordination of our right to life and self-defense to an allegedly higher principle. It would be to subordinate our lives to the lives of the ayatollahs—who would become our masters. If we cannot stand on the principle of our right to life and liberty against the Islamic Totalitarians’ claim that we must submit to the will of “Allah,” then we cannot claim the right to exist. America’s “weakness of will” is the jihadists’ great hope—as it was the hope of Japanese warriors—but it is something they cannot impose on us. Their only prayer is that we will accept it voluntarily. The price for doing so is our lives and the lives of our children. We must not submit.

To remove this cancerous Islamic State loudly and forthrightly will have immediate benefits. We would avenge the thousands of American terror victims since the 1960s. We would reverse the pitiful image we projected when Iranians stormed our embassy in 1979, and when we fled from Mogadishu and from Lebanon—actions that the Islamic Totalitarians claimed as evidence of our weakness. We could even reverse a tremendous injustice by un-nationalizing the oil companies in Iran—stolen from their owners in 1951—and placing them back into private hands, under government protection. Certainly guarding those facilities from a surrounding civil war—a legitimate protection of private property, backed by a credible threat of crushing force—would be a far better use of our troops than guarding a few blocks in downtown Baghdad from its own residents. The pipeline of money into Islamic jihad would be cut.

Most importantly, by ousting the regime in Iran, we would send a clear message to the world: Political Islam is finished. Weaker states and groups would cringe in terror—as they did briefly after 9/11—and would literally retreat into holes in the ground. Anti-totalitarian forces across the world would be emboldened by the sight of a real defense of life and liberty. Allies we never knew existed would raise their heads with confidence and join the cause of freedom. The land of the free—rejuvenated as the home of the brave—would rejoice as the nation of the secure. We would truly be on the road to victory, freedom, and peace. By affirming the efficacy of reason and individual rights over incompetent dark-age theocracy, America could once again claim its place as a real world leader, and become a beacon for those who understand, and value, freedom.

Once this central task is complete, further intransigent policies toward Islamic Totalitarianism will be necessary. One pertains to state economic support for Islam, another to state-sponsored education. The 1945 telegram—again, with Islam replacing Shinto—addresses both of these points:

Islam, however, insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People [will] not be taxed to support Islam and there will be no place for Islam in the schools.

The Muslim world must be made to understand that any government that provides economic support to jihadists will be summarily destroyed. In order for this policy to be taken seriously, we must demonstrate its truth—by destroying the Iranian regime and stating why we have done so. Only the clear threat that “you will be next” can break the entangled network of Islamic economic support for jihad that masquerades as “economic development.” There can be no more playing games with Saudi apologists who speak smooth English and describe their work as “charity.” In 2003, the International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi charity, claimed to have dug 1,615 wells throughout the Middle East—but it also established 4,400 mosques and distributed millions of Islamic books and pamphlets. The result has been the display, on television, of young children as “True Muslims,” trained to see Jews as pigs and apes, screaming “Allahu Akbar” and dedicating themselves to jihad.13 Such “charity” means raising money to spread the ideas, and tactics, of Totalitarian Islam. It must end.

Ending this state economic support cannot occur without confronting one of Islam’s five pillars: alms. By separating church and state, alms can become something that it has never been in Islam: truly private charity. In the primitive society in which Mohammed lived, there was no concept of the separation of church and state. The religious leaders were the political leaders, and the payment of alms was a state-imposed taxation as much as a religious duty. Since then, nothing has changed within Islam. It is high time that all government involvement in so-called “charities” be ended. All states known to have sponsored terrorism against the West must be forbidden to impose taxes or provide funding on behalf of Islam.

Regarding education, the adapted 1945 telegram ends as follows:

Islam as a state religion—National Islam, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Islam . . . The dissemination of Islamic militaristic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. Middle Eastern Governments will be required to cease financial and other support of Islamic establishments.

One of the strongest parallels between Japanese Shintoism and Islamic Totalitarianism is the deep inculcation of theological militarism in children—a philosophical ideology centered on military service to a divinely sanctioned state—and the suicidal “socialization for death” that results. In each case, the central purpose of the educational system is to train children to obey a divine presence by inculcating in them a sense of submission and insignificance married to violence. Japanese children memorized the calls to duty by the Emperor; indoctrinated Islamic children memorize sword verses in the Koran. Japanese children bowed to the Emperor and obeyed his generals; Islamic children bow to Allah and obey his clerics. The grip of Islam over education has to be broken, as was the grip of Shinto over the schools in Japan.

After the regime in Iran is destroyed, the leadership in countries sponsoring such state training in Islamic jihad—especially Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—must choose: Close the state-funded schools, or face the Iranian alternative. Until the U.S. demonstrates the nature of that choice, by serious retaliation against Iran, unambiguously connecting principled words to practical actions, there is no reason for any Middle Eastern leader to expect serious consequences. Until then, they are right to regard us as a paper tiger. Only the forthright destruction of the Iranian Islamic State can demonstrate the resolve needed for this task.

As the telegram makes clear, the dissemination of militarism is broader than the schools; it encompasses the media. Ending Japan as a threat, and reforming the society in a long-lasting way, required the strict suppression of militaristic education, publications, and broadcasts. This is also necessary in the case of Totalitarian Islam.

America needs a Commander-in-Chief today who can understand and state this simple truth: In war, there is no “right” to free speech on behalf of an enemy. The string of obviously false, contrived, and manipulated “news” by the supporters of jihad—the staging of civilians crying when a home is destroyed, and the throwing about of children’s dolls when a terrorist’s safe house is wrecked—are all part of the enemy’s war effort. In war, the psychological disarmament of the enemy, including the inculcation of terror through vicious propaganda, is part of the fight. American unwillingness to quash such propaganda is seen, by our enemies, not as respect for freedom of speech, but rather as a lack of will and as evidence of weakness. In the present situation, Americans must forcibly prohibit the dissemination of militaristic ideology and propaganda anywhere it rises. To make the point clear, Al-Jazeera—the fountainhead of Muslim taqiyya, or deception—must be shut down.

In summary, Political Islam, Militant Islam, rule by Islamic Law—and all the economic and intellectual support associated with it—must go. This means that Iran must go.

The removal of Islamic political states will not be the end of the task; many intellectual battles will have to be waged. Most importantly, Western intellectuals must present not only a negative—a repudiation of the Totalitarian Universe—but also a positive—a clear explanation to the world that the moral purpose of a government is to protect its citizens’ rights to think and act on the judgment of their own minds, free from coercion by church, mosque, or state. But such battles cannot be fought by pretending that those who make death threats instead of arguments are offering anything but clubs in place of syllogisms.

This is not a clash between civilizations; it is a clash between civilization and barbarism. Until civilized people assert themselves with a depth of moral confidence exceeding that projected by those who submit to the “will of Allah,” America will remain permanently on the defensive, in a state of moral dhimmitude, and the war will continue to its logical conclusion: a mushroom cloud over America.

Is it possible for a “moderate” form of Islam to become an alternative to the totalitarian world-view infecting so many Muslims? Perhaps, but let us be clear about what this would mean. This would mean an Islam that is explicitly separated from political power. It would mean an Islam whose clerics renounce all attempts to impose its law by force. It would mean an Islam that (like modern Christianity) is open to critical self-reflection, whose thinkers examine the Koran as a set of stories, compiled and interpreted by men—and not the infallible word of God to be spread by the sword. It would mean an Islam that allows apostates to make their own decisions, and that tolerates no death threats against them. It would mean the explicit rejection—by Muslims—of State Islam, Islamic Law, and the pursuit of jihad. Such “moderate” Muslims will support the obliteration of Totalitarian Islam. The rest must witness the defeat of this poisonous ideology, and grasp the hopelessness of supporting it.

To achieve this goal requires us to be confident in our positions; certain of our own rightness; and forthright in our commitment to freedom and the defense of individual rights. Hiding the truth behind allegedly “prudent” language designed to obfuscate our intentions is of no use against an ideology with the directness of Islam. We cannot out-taqiyya the Islamic Totalitarians. We must state our end goal openly and clearly; we must identify the principled means of achieving it; and we must become people of integrity—people who act in accordance with their values and convictions. There is no substitute for integrity, and that means no substitute for victory.

There was a time when this was understood in America. In 1945, Americans knew that there was truly “no substitute for victory,” as General MacArthur said in his farewell speech to Congress. In 1945, Americans also knew the meaning of “victory.” It was not a mere word, empty of content. It named a specific task, and a precise goal. To say that our aim today is “to attain victory” can be as empty and futile as urging a college student to “do well,” or a businessman to “succeed.” What constitutes “doing well”? What is “success”? How will we know when we have achieved “victory”? The question is: What is it that we really need from the enemy?

History offers yet another example. The words proclaimed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which defined the terms of victory, and which he held intransigently for over two years, are “Unconditional Surrender.” Bringing long-term peace to the world, said FDR,

involves the simple formula of placing the objective of this war in terms of an unconditional surrender. . . . Unconditional surrender means not the destruction of the . . . Japanese populace, but does mean the destruction of a philosophy . . . which is based on the conquest and subjugation of other peoples.

In other words, continued FDR:

We have learned that if we do not pull the fangs of the predatory animals of the world, they will multiply and grow in strength . . . [they] must be disarmed and kept disarmed, and they must abandon the philosophy which has brought so much suffering to the world.14

The term “Unconditional Surrender” has been closely linked to Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, who demanded “no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender” from his southern foe at Fort Donelson, Kentucky. For this victory, Grant was heroized as “Unconditional Surrender” Grant. To Americans of the time, “U. S.” stood for Ulysses S. Grant, for the United States, and for Unconditional Surrender. Americans demanded nothing less than victory, and equated victory with their own identity as a nation.

This is what we must regain today: the sense of ourselves as right to drive victoriously over a viciously evil enemy. We must demand the unconditional surrender of the Islamic State in Iran—and of every other Islamic Totalitarian State on earth—to the legitimate laws of man, the laws that protect individual rights. Every Islamic cleric must renounce the goal of inciting his audience to jihad; he must proclaim, loudly and openly, his repudiation of Islamic law; he must state his intention to live under the laws of men in accordance with the requirements of man’s life on earth. Every Muslim intellectual must denounce the Islamic State as an aberration and a monstrosity, as being contrary to the requirements of life on earth. Immediate, personal destruction can be the only alternative.

If it is true that the majority of Middle Eastern people want a decent free life for themselves—as the vast majority of Japanese did after August, 1945—then they will rejoice over the excision of Totalitarian Islam from their midst. They will cheer for the freedom to make their own decisions about their own lives. They will react as the Japanese did—by embracing a constitutional government that renounces war, by purging state religion from the schools, by excising militarism from the media, and by building corporations rather than suicide cults. But if they do not, the unconditional surrender of Islamic Totalitarianism must be taken to mean its political defeat: There will be no negotiations over the place of Islam in government, for it has no such place.

Americans, and all lovers of civilization, must realize something: We can do this. This is not some Platonic ideal, good in theory but unattainable in practice. We Americans can—and must—re-establish our integrity by re-uniting our ideals and our actions. History is on our side here. In relative terms, the physical forces facing America and her allies in 1941 were far more formidable than those we face today, and America then was far weaker militarily. In our own day, the technological and industrial superiority of the U.S. over the Middle East is staggering. Islamic warriors can shoot an AK-47, but they cannot build one; all of the arms possessed by Islamic countries come from outside those countries. They are pathetically weak; the American army ended the regime of Saddam Hussein in three weeks, after Iran could not beat him in eight years. Our overwhelming material advantage, however, will be of no help if we lack the will to drop a bomb—or if we use our forces to strengthen our enemies. As it was for Germany and Japan in the 1930s, so it is today: The power of the Islamic Totalitarians grows every day that we wait. The strategic balance will shift—the Islamic Totalitarians will have the capacity as well as the will to bring about the nuclear Armageddon that they so deeply crave—if Iran acquires nuclear bombs. It is not a kindness to wait, knowing that our response will have to be even more lethal after a mushroom cloud rises over American soil. To wait, in light of that knowledge, is irrational—criminally irrational.

The need to understand the gravity of this situation—and our capacity to prevent a catastrophe—is particularly urgent at this moment in time. It is obvious that the defeat of the Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections was a repudiation of President Bush’s policies in this war. But it is more important to understand that President Bush has not mounted an offensive strategy, and that an offensive strategy is not the reason why American troops are dying in Iraq. There has been no drive to victory, only a string of casualties and the progressive discouragement of the American people. As a result, our primary enemy has been strengthened, and allowed to address the world as a leader just a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. (Imagine Hitler being granted this privilege.) Bush’s war strategy of non-war has resulted in a functional paralysis caused by our self-imposed failure to identify and confront open and avowed enemies.

What has been demonstrably repudiated by the actions of the Bush administration is not the first of the options I presented, but the second. What has been tried and has failed are the altruistic, pragmatic policies of an administration that is as desperate to appear tough as it is to avoid being tough. The Democrats—the party that won World War II by dropping two atomic bombs—have an opportunity to regain a position of moral stature before the American people. Should they not do so—should they choose to retreat—then their unwillingness to value the lives of American citizens over the lives of foreign enemies will be made clear, and the Democrats will be seen as no better, no more principled, no more courageous, and no more American than the Republicans.

Our military capacities are not in doubt today. It is our moral self-confidence that is in question. What was it that stopped us from confronting Iran in 1979, except a lack of confidence in our own rightness, and an unwillingness to defend ourselves for our own sakes? Had we removed the Iranian regime in 1979, thousands of Americans would have been saved, and children across the world would not have grown up with sword verses rising in their minds as they give their lives to jihad. Consider the Japanese—and ask whether it would have been in our interest to have left the regime of 1945 in power, to continue preaching religious militarism and training kamikaze. The best thing Americans did for themselves (and, incidentally, the kindest thing for the Japanese) was to burn that regime to the ground. So it is today. The Islamic State—Totalitarian Islam—must go. And it is the moral responsibility of every American to demand it.

President Bush’s lack of historical, moral, and religious clarity

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2007 at 5:09 AM

A society founded on a religion that commands: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” looks decidedly different from one in which the Official Faith commands: “…kill the unbelievers wherever you find them….” Because America is an heir of the former tradition, it is at its core a “shining City on a hill.” The love of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness enshrined in our country’s founding documents is a natural outgrowth of the doctrines of Christ.

As for the latter tradition, it is clear that President Bush is either unwilling or unable to admit its true nature. While he mischaracterizes Islam as a “great world religion”–equating it with Christianity–the Religion of Death grows in political power around the world. More and more of the Majority of Moderate Muslims we hear of so often remains silent, uses democracy to move every land in which it lives toward Shari’a, and Infidel states cower as they are overwhelmed, intimidated, and murdered within their own borders by the Religionists of Peace.

This is why Americans (excluding those “citizens” who in reality hate America and are therefore undeserving of the appellation) are becoming less supportive of the direction of our war effort. Even if unfamiliar with Islam’s “sacred” texts and historical bloodlust, when the People see their leaders repeatedly giving money to, cajoling, and praising the ideology of those who kill their sons and daughters, they instinctively know a change is needed.

Our nation would enthusiastically embrace a leader with clarity, courage, and a love for America (which disqualifies most Leftists, but since most Republicans are that In Name Only, we may end up with four more years of Clinton anyway).

Following is a devastating look at our Global War on a Tactic and how President Bush has unnecessarily sacrificed too many of our Bravest and Best to the god of multiculturalism and his lack of historical, moral, and religious clarity.

What Oriana Fallaci does with passion and common sense, John Lewis does with an apt historical example.

No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism, by John Lewis (courtesy Robert Spencer, links in the original).

Author’s note: This article was adapted from a lecture I presented at the Ayn Rand Institute’s OCON conference “The Jihad Against the West,” in Boston, MA, on October 21, 2006.

The Greek historian Thucydides, writing about the calamitous war that had destroyed his own world, made an important observation about the causes of historical events: Even though circumstances may change, human nature remains the same; and certain human elements—especially moral and psychological factors—are at the root of all wars. We can disagree with Thucydides about the identity of those factors, and reject his pessimistic view of human nature, but we will benefit from accepting his challenge to rise above particular circumstances and focus on the principles of human action that are common to all time. Differences in technology, politics, or economics will always remain secondary to the ideas that motivate aggressors to launch bloody attacks and that empower—or restrain—defenders opposing those attacks.

In that spirit, let us begin by considering an event of cataclysmic proportions, a deadly attack against Americans, and then examine two possible responses to it. This approach will show us that the crisis we face today—a series of highly motivated attacks against the heart of civilization—is not unique, can be understood, and can be ended—if we choose to understand and end it.

The attack under consideration kills thousands of Americans. Foreign governments, well known to us, have sponsored such attacks for years in their pursuit of a continental-scale totalitarian empire. The fire motivating the slaughter is a militaristic, religious-political ideology that values war as a demonstration of loyalty to a deity, demands obedience to its spokesmen, and imposes its edicts over millions of people. Thousands of individuals, indoctrinated as youths, are eager to engage in suicide attacks, and many more are willing to die through acquiescence and submission, should the state so demand. The enemy soldier is highly motivated, thoroughly brainwashed, and willing to die for his god and his cause. The enemy’s children and soldiers memorize words such as these:

The battlefield is where our army displays its true character, conquering whenever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread our deity’s reign far and wide, so that the enemy may look up in awe to his august virtues.1

They accept, as moral imperatives, ideas such as these:

[F]ight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war; but if they repent, and practice our way, then accept them. . . . You shall fight back against those who do not believe in God, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what God and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth.2

Millions of people embrace such injunctions as unquestioned commandments. Their suicidal attacks continue for years.

How should Americans respond to this attack? Under the pressures of a deadly emergency, American leaders must make important decisions, and the American people must decide whether they will support those decisions. Let us consider and evaluate two options, and ask which we should use.

To set course for one possible response, the President addresses the American people, and identifies the enemy nations involved. He asks for, and receives, a formal declaration of war from Congress. He pledges to achieve victory as quickly as possible, a goal which he defines as the unconditional surrender of the enemy regimes, and a fundamental repudiation of war by those involved.

Americans mount a vigorous offense against the center of the enemy’s power. Waves of bombers obliterate dozens of enemy cities. His food is choked off, his military is decimated, his industry is bombarded, his ships are sunk, his harbors are mined—his people are psychologically shattered. In a single night, a hundred thousand civilians die in a firestorm in his capital. Americans drop leaflets telling the enemy population which cities could be next. Civilians are immersed in propaganda from their government, telling them that they are winning the war—yet they cower defenselessly while American bombers level their homes.

One of our generals announces his personal goal: to “kill the bastards.” We name our final drive against the enemy, “Operation Downfall.” A force of overpowering magnitude amasses on the enemy’s borders, as thousands of American bombers pulverize his cities. The President and two foreign allies issue an ultimatum that includes these words:

The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the enemy armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the enemy homeland. . . .

The time has come for the enemy nation to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought them to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason. . . .

Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay. . . .

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world. . . .

Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established. . . .

We call upon the enemy to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative is prompt and utter destruction.3

When the enemy balks at the ultimatum, atomic bombs are dropped on his cities. He surrenders, thus acknowledging the reality of his defeat and making a political decision to cease fighting. He orders his reluctant soldiers to lay down their arms. The American military occupies the defeated nation. We censor the media, impose reforms on schools, dismantle economic cartels, efface militaristic language from discourse at all levels, and write a political constitution which they are forced to accept. We tell them, pointedly and publicly, that they are defeated, and that we have no obligations to them. When they face starvation, we remind them that their miseries are their own fault. We charge them for many of the costs of the occupation. Not one dime of aid arrives until they demonstrate their complete surrender, in word and in action, including their repudiation of the militaristic ideology that motivated their attacks.

This principled, all-out merciless offense is one possible response to the sneak attack. Now let us consider a second, very different, response.

The President addresses the nation, identifies the enemy as the particular people involved in the attacks, and defines them by the tactics they used. He makes no declaration of war, but pledges to lead us to victory in the war he intends to wage, which, he says, will be long. He defines victory as democracy for the nations behind the attacks. A week later, he reminds us that those who practice the religion of the attackers “must feel comfortable” in America.4 Two months later, he invites leaders of the religion to the White House, for a prayer meeting.5

Our leaders realize that the particular attackers have bases in a poor, isolated country, so we invade that country, and drive its government into the surrounding mountains. We name our campaign “Operation Infinite Justice,” but when adherents of the attackers’ religion complain, we change it to “Operation Enduring Freedom.” We drop bombs, but they are precision-guided to avoid hitting civilians and religious buildings. Many of our bombers drop food. The enemy flees to a neighboring country, ruled by a nuclear-armed dictator whom we call an “ally” and whose borders we do not cross. Within this “ally’s” borders, schools train more attackers, who flood across the borders, cause more carnage, and kill more Americans.

In search of democracy, and following our desire to free foreign peoples from oppression, we attack and depose another dictator in the area. This secular thug, whom we had once armed, had fought a long war against a neighboring country founded upon the same hostile ideology as those who attacked us. The people we liberate from him establish a government based on that same hostile ideology—which we allow, since our goal was to enable them to vote—and they strengthen ties with other nations founded on this ideology. One of our generals states his own view of our goal: to foster the enemy’s “ability to compromise on their political goals, accommodate their sectarian differences and demonstrate to ordinary people that a democratic central government can serve their needs.”6 We name our campaign “Operation Freedom for Them.”

We act with great restraint, establishing rules of engagement that limit the use of force by our military. We apologize when we hurt civilians, prosecute our soldiers if they humiliate prisoners, assign correspondents to military units to monitor their actions, and send lawyers with our troops to ensure that they “follow the rules.” When captured Americans are beheaded on television, we do not close down the broadcasts or attack the governments financing them—we search for the particular killers. When the enemy acquires nuclear power plants, we refer to the country providing him with those plants as a “friend” and an “ally.” When the enemy uses banks to finance his war against us, we call on our lawyers to “freeze his assets,” but never call on our generals to destroy his capital. We remind the people in his nation incessantly that our war is not with them, but rather with “extremists” who have “hijacked a great religion.”

Now, which of these two responses—the all-out, merciless, military offense, or the restrained, diplomatic, semi-military approach, should we choose? Let us evaluate them, according to several ideas widely accepted today.

First, we are told today that only so-called “proportional” force is morally proper. We need to wage a “just war,” one founded on altruistic moral principles, using strictly limited force, for strictly limited ends, aimed at the good of others. The well-being of others—including the enemy’s people—must be our concern, and this requires severe self-restraint on our part. That the enemy does not act this way when he kills our people is of no concern. According to these moral views, we must hold the well-being of others as an absolute, regardless of the consequences; we must be willing to place our soldiers in mortal danger in order to protect enemy civilians—even though they often aid and abet enemy fighters. A military offense for our own self-protection would transgress the bounds of a “just war,” says the accepted wisdom.

This moral obligation to use our force only in limited degrees and always for the good of others raises two questions: What, in this view, is the right amount of limited force? And what constitutes the good of others? These two questions are answered by means of the methodology of pragmatism (i.e., doing what “works” for the moment) and the morality of altruism (i.e., the morality of “otherism”). We will use these two widely accepted philosophical positions to direct our response to those attacking us.

Following these principles, we will have to determine our policies and strategies on a case-by-case basis. Our actions must be pragmatic and adaptable, contingent on local circumstances and the consensus of others. The right amount of force is that which does not upset the enemy too much; if we use too much of our power, we will cause hard feelings and a desire for vengeance in the enemy, which will breed a new generation of enemy soldiers. We should, in this view, respond with compassion and understanding, engaging in “dialogue” with him, building power plants and digging toilets in his land rather than attacking him. This, we are told, will “win hearts and minds.” Based on these practical and moral considerations, the first option, the all-out offense, must be rejected; the restrained response is best.

Second, we are told that we must not declare war against a nation, only against its leadership or particular miscreants. Most people, we hear, do not want war; there is a “universal hunger for liberty,” and people will regale us with flowers if we “liberate” them from oppression. We are told that “freedom” is “God’s gift to all people,” and that our “calling” is to create the conditions by which others can embrace this gift. Their freedom—meaning, we are told, democracy—is the root of our security; and protecting their “right” to vote—not defeating them—must be our goal. We must grant them the freedom to establish any government they wish—even one akin to the regimes of our attackers—if it expresses their democratic desires. Again, the offensive response must be shunned; the restrained approach is our only choice.

Third, we are told that an overwhelming offense fails to respect the culture of a foreign nation. All cultures are equal, multiculturalism teaches us, and each must be equally respected. For us to claim a sense of superiority over other cultures would reveal a “Eurocentric bias” that fails to acknowledge “multi-variant” forms of logic, and the relativism of all values. According to altruism, this means that other cultures are due more respect than our own, since we must subordinate our own people and resources to their needs, even if those cultures actively oppose our own selfish interests. According to pragmatism, respecting their “right” to “self-determination” rather than defeating them will make them feel better and thus momentarily quell the violence. Our soldiers must be trained to respect the cultural differences between themselves and the enemy. When enemy soldiers are captured, for instance, they must be given books sympathetic to their own positions, and be allowed to practice their cultural-religious rituals.

(The same strategy, we hear, must be used inside America, against people of the same ideology as the enemy. An American police officer recently told me that he undergoes “sensitivity training” to “understand” and “respect” the cultural basis of rampant domestic violence in a neighborhood he patrols. He is cautioned to avoid “cultural imperialism” and “racism,” the sin of thinking that American culture is superior because it forbids the beating of wives. A man in Colorado, sentenced to jail for enslaving an Indonesian woman, said: “Your Honor, I am not here to apologize, for I cannot apologize for things I did not do and crimes I did not commit. The state has criminalized these basic [religious] behaviors.” The man said he treated the woman the way any family of his cultural convictions would treat a daughter: by locking her in the basement.7)

According to multiculturalism, a serious military offense would be anathema. We must allow peoples of other cultures to express their “cultural identities”—whether that involves eating falafels, chanting “Death to America,” or detonating their children in Israeli restaurants.

If one observes that all of this makes it impossible to develop a principled approach to an ever-deepening crisis, the philosophy of pragmatism has an explanation. The pragmatic world-view tells us that reality is messy and contradictory; to deal with a reality that is constantly shifting, we need flexibility, not firm principles. To be principled is to be an inflexible “ideologue.” To be practical is to shift with the “flux” that surrounds us, reacting on the range-of-the-moment, negotiating at every turn, compromising with anyone and everyone. We need to respond to each situation as a unique, particular event, without connection to other events. There are no lessons to be drawn from history; even the world of five years ago differs fundamentally from the world we face now. Politics is all trial and error.

Perhaps we should try “shuttle diplomacy”: appeasing one dictator here, buying off one over there, making deals with others, calling on allies to “put pressure on” another. The only absolute is that we must not engage in focused, principled military action toward a firm, self-interested, pro-American victory. The second, flexible, response is, again, the right choice—according to pragmatism.

Altruism leads to the same conclusion. To fight for our own benefit—to elevate our lives over those of our enemies—is almost universally condemned today as selfish and thus “immoral.” A moral war, according to altruism, is a war fought self-sacrificially, for the good of others, especially for the weak. It is only by a continuous policy of aiding others that we can rise to moral goodness. Even restrained, limited military action is wrong, if taken for our own benefit. In this view, a strong power is good only when it recognizes the moral claims of those in need—even enemies and their supporters. The route to peace is not through victory, since altruism (“otherism”) cannot abide the defeat of others. The “path to tomorrow” is through the sacrifice of our own wealth, values, and lives to the needs of others—even those who threaten us. Again, their freedom must be our goal—their prosperity must be our mission—if we wish to be “good.”

Pragmatism and altruism dictate American foreign policy today—as they have done for over fifty years. To be practical is to be pragmatic, and to be moral is to be altruistic—these are the accepted axioms of the modern day. An all-out offensive response, in this view, would be an utter disaster—pragmatically because it holds to principles in defiance of constantly shifting reality, and morally because it seeks the enemy’s defeat rather than his benefit. On the premises of pragmatism and altruism, the measured, proportional, restrained approach is our only option.

Students of history, of course, will recognize that the attack I posed—and the two responses—were not hypothetical. Such an attack has been launched against America twice in the past two generations, and both options have been tried. On the premises of pragmatism and altruism, the first response should have led to escalating hostilities and a new generation of war against America, and the second should have ended the attacks. The results, however, have been precisely the opposite. Let us proceed to see why.

On December 7, 1941, we were attacked by Japan, a country then governed by a militaristic, religious ideology, in pursuit of a divine empire, with indoctrinated soldiers who soon used suicide tactics. We chose the ruthless, offensive response. Three years and eight months later, the Japanese surrendered, their country in ruins, their people starving. Five years after the attacks, Japan had a constitution that included the following (from its famous Article 9): “[T]he Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation. . . . The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Sixty years after the U.S. ended two generations of aggressive Japanese warfare, Japan remains free, productive, and friendly to America. The Japanese have not abandoned their traditions—nor has anyone asked them to do so—but they no longer use them to kill and enslave others. Rather than seek our destruction, Japan has become a staunch political ally, a robust free-market competitor, and an invaluable economic producer. Rather than build bombs and fighter planes with which to attack us, the Japanese build cars and computers that contribute immensely to our own high standard of living.

In perfect contrast, the second option—the pragmatic, altruistic, limited-military response—has been the basic approach of the Bush Administration to the attacks of September 11, 2001. What are the results?

Afghanistan continues to be strafed by holy warriors trained in Pakistan—a nuclear-armed dictatorship that we have placed off-limits to our own forces. Iraq’s insurgency continues, with Shiite militias, no longer restrained either by Saddam Hussein or by us, growing to fill the political vacuum. Iran is emboldened, its fundamentalist leadership ever more vocal, its program of nuclear development open and expanding. Saudi Arabia—our alleged ally—funds religious schools that teach hatred of the West and train an endless stream of jihadists. We pay two-billion dollars a year in tribute to Egypt, so that they will refrain from attacking Israel. Sudan engages in genocide under theocratic rule, while Somalia, Nigeria, and other countries are following suit, their tribal clerics doling out Islamic law under trees. Syria—a second-generation thugocracy on the verge of collapse a few years ago—has been resurrected and emboldened. Hezbollah has taken over Southern Lebanon. The Gaza is a new terror enclave under the democratically elected terror-cult Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood is winning elections in Egypt. Other anti-Western militant groups are winning elections and subverting Western values from Spain to Indonesia. Across the world—including Canada, England, and the U.S.—Muslim cells plot more attacks and plan political takeovers, all the while hiding behind constitutional protections that they have sworn to destroy. Anyone daring to renounce or criticize Islam may have to live forever underground, in fear of murder sanctioned by religious decree.

Five years to the month after 9/11, and in stark contrast to the situation in Japan five years after Pearl Harbor, an Islamic cleric, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, a teacher at an Islamic school in Java, and a killer in the Bali bombing of 2002 who was released from prison in June 2006, now openly promotes a new constitution for Indonesia:

We demand an Islamic state, and not some form of Islamisation of society. We want the state to be Islamic, with Islamic leaders who have the courage and will to implement the Islamic law in total. . . .

We want an Islamic state where Islamic law is not just in the books but enforced, and enforced with determination. There is no space and no room for democratic consultation. The Islamic law is set and fixed, so why discuss it? Just implement it!

Right now we are drafting our own constitutional amendments for Indonesia, the framework for an Indonesian Islamic state where Islamic laws are enforced. Indonesians must understand that there is no Islamic state without the enforcement of Islamic laws.8

This is Islamic Totalitarianism—State Islam—rule by Islamic Law—and it is on the rise. While this cleric plots an Islamic State, people from countries where children are taught that Jews are born of pigs and monkeys, and that Israel is “occupied territory” and fair game for attack, rail against so-called anti-Muslim “prejudice.” Inside America, leaders of hostile countries give speeches to build “bridges of understanding” while building nuclear bombs overseas.9 Adherents of Islam claim to be victims of persecution, assertions they make on national television, from pulpits, and in tenured university positions.

Meanwhile, a state of siege is being more deeply entrenched inside America every day. We are losing the war by institutionalizing the loss of our freedoms, searching the sneakers of senior citizens in wheelchairs in order to avoid confronting bellicose dictatorships overseas. In the minds of many people, the Bush administration’s allegedly “offensive” strategy has discredited the very idea of genuinely offensive war for American self-interest, which it pledged to fight, and then betrayed to its core. Our soldiers come home maimed or dead, and military offense, rather than timidity, takes the blame. To compensate for our weakness overseas, we are building electric fences and security barriers to keep the world out, accepting the medieval ideal of walled towns under constant threat of attack, rather than destroying the source of such threats.

In short, the second, pragmatic, altruistic approach has failed. In the five years since 9/11, the motivations behind the Islamic attacks have not been suppressed—and this is the real failure of these policies. The number of particular attacks is not the measure of success or failure. The Islamic Totalitarians remain physically intact, spiritually committed, and politically empowered. The Islamic Totalitarian movement remains—distributed, without the strong central command Al Qaeda once had, but still energized—and it appears like hidden gushers, the jihad bursting forth in seemingly random places by internal pressure from an underground stream. Our acceptance of pragmatism, the policy of short-range trial and error that rejects principles on principle—and altruism, the morality of self-sacrifice—left no other result possible.

The reason for this failure is that every one of the ideas we used to evaluate our options is wrong. In every case, the opposite of today’s “conventional wisdom” is true.

  • A strong offense does not create new enemies; it defeats existing foes. Were this not so, we would be fighting German and Japanese suicide bombers today, while North Korea—undefeated by America—would be peaceful, prosperous, and free.
  • Poverty is not the “root cause” of wars. If it were, poor Mexicans would be attacking America, not begging for jobs at Wal-Mart.
  • Democracy is not a route to freedom—not for the Greeks who voted to kill Socrates, nor for the Romans who acclaimed Caesar, nor for the Germans who elected Hitler.
  • A culture of slavery and suicide is not equal to a culture of freedom and prosperity—not for those who value life.
  • The world is not a flux of contradictions, in which principles do not work. If it were, gravity would not hold, vaccinations would not work, and one would not have a right to one’s life.
  • Being moral does not mean sacrificing for others. It means accepting the American principle of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—and living for one’s own sake.

History is clear: All-out force against fanatical killers is both practical and moral. It led us to our two most important foreign policy successes—the defeats of Germany and Japan in 1945—and to the permanent peace with those nations that we take for granted today. Such a course was practical and moral then, and it is practical and moral now—an affirmation, and a defense, of life and civilization.

Rights-respecting people, those who do not initiate force against others, have a right to defend themselves for their own sakes—because they have a right to live. To do this, they must approach their enemies in a principled, self-interested way. Ayn Rand, in her essay on the nature of government, observed a vital relationship between man’s right to life and his right to self-defense:

The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.10

These words ring especially true in the war against Islamic Totalitarianism. The consequence of our failure to respond forthrightly to these attacks has been precisely to encourage and reward this movement. We have granted it a safe haven, allowed it to claim victory through continued existence, appealed to its apologists who spread anti-American venom, and emboldened those who wish to take up the fight against us. The solution is to renounce altruistic appeasement and pragmatic compromise, to recognize our own value, and to defend our lives by right. We must defeat these enemies, and we can.

Only after we understand that we should defeat these enemies, can we ask how. This point is vital, for the question of moral rightness is logically and psychologically prior to any question of strategy or tactics. If we do not understand that we should defeat them—if we think that we are as bad as they are, or that they have legitimate grievances that justify their attacks, or that we have created a situation that morally demands that we compensate them—then our lack of moral self-confidence will undercut our motivation to fight. But the facts do not warrant such a conclusion. We are morally right and the Islamic Totalitarians are evil—not merely in their methods, but, more fundamentally, in their values and goals. We have a moral responsibility to defeat them—if we want to live. We can and must approach this war with the moral self-confidence of those fighting for civilization itself—for the basic conditions on which human life depends—because that is precisely what is at stake.

Given that we should win, how then must our government confront Islamic Totalitarianism? Let us call again upon the defeat of Japan in 1945 as a valid, and vital, historical precedent.

These two conflicts have many political and military differences, and it would be an error to draw tactical lessons from 1945 and apply them directly to the present conflict. To name one such difference, Americans in 1941 did not have the military capacity to attack Japan directly and overwhelmingly (as they would a few years later); we were not able to bomb Japan, nor defeat its navy quickly. We were forced to use the kind of slow infantry tactics and “island hopping” that would not be necessary today. American ingenuity has created an explosion of technology, and the possibility of heretofore undreamed of tactics, which make it unnecessary for any American to be killed in the fight. That we have the overwhelming capacity to defeat the Islamic Totalitarians militarily is beyond doubt. Yet far from elevating technology to the key issue in winning a war, this illustrates the unequivocal importance of the moral self-confidence—the state of mind that proceeds from an awareness of one’s own moral goodness and efficacy—that is needed to use this weaponry. This is what enabled us to overcome serious material deficiencies and to drive victoriously over the Japanese in 1945. The question today is not whether we have the capacity to win; it is whether we have the self-confidence, and the will, to do so.

The basic similarities between the two conflicts begin with the ideas that motivated the attacks. The Japanese were motivated by a politicized religious ideology—Shintoism—that posited an all-powerful deity, indoctrinated their children, infected every aspect of their culture, and drove them to suicidal military actions that killed millions. An educational rescript of 1890—an Imperial decree, and one of the most influential documents in Japanese history—built this “mytho-religious ideology” into the classroom, making worship of the Emperor and duty to the State into the primary goals of education.11 Japanese people memorized its tenets, and were inculcated with what one Japanese scholar called “socialization for death.”12 A Japanese civilian remarked how, when she heard that the Emperor was going to address his people—an unprecedented event—the words she had memorized as a child rose in her mind: “Should any emergency arise, offer yourself courageously to the State.” Such ideas, deeply internalized and mandated by law, motivated suicide bombers—kamikaze—to throw themselves fanatically against superior U.S. forces, and gave them hope for a final battle over weak-willed Americans. This kamikaze fire was extinguished by the crushing American offensive of 1945.

The Islamic Totalitarian movement has a similar fire burning at its core—an authoritarian, state-centered religion, replete with state-funded educational indoctrination, a massive suicide cult on behalf of the deity and state, and hope for a final battle over the Americans. The key to extinguishing this fire, I submit—the sine qua non required to end the spiral of indoctrination, jihad, and suicidal attacks on the West—is to do what was done against Japan: to break the political power of the state religion. State Islam—Totalitarian Islam—rule by Islamic Law—must be obliterated.

A vital point about politics and government must be remembered here. Government holds a legal monopoly on the use of force in a geographic area. Governments do not make suggestions—they pass and enforce laws. They must do this, in order to protect our freedom to think and speak—but within proper limits, defined by the principle of individual rights and codified in a constitution that is the nation’s fundamental law. The purpose of a proper government is to protect the rights of its citizens—each citizen’s freedom to think and act on his own judgment—by using retaliatory force as necessary against criminals and foreign invaders.

A government that turns its force against its own citizens, especially to impose an ideological doctrine on them, subordinates the rights of individuals to the demands of the State. This is statism—the elevation of the State over the individual, and the inversion of the very purpose of government. Statism is the greatest killer in history—dwarfing all attacks by criminals—precisely because it is motivated by some form of mystical political ideology. Because statists claim an authority that is above the rights of man—whether the Fuehrer’s master race, the communists’ dialectic, or the theocrat’s God—they do not recognize the principle of individual rights or the self-ownership of men on earth; rather, they claim the right to rule men, and to kill with impunity anyone who disobeys the ideology or regime.

What the aforementioned Indonesians—and all of us—must understand is that there is no recognition of individual rights, no legitimate constitution, and thus no freedom, under religious law in any form. The all-encompassing, totalitarian nature of Islamic Law—its claims to divine origin, its commitment to uphold “Allah’s” will, and its ultimate goal of making everyone on earth submit to it—leaves no room for individual rights or freedom. This code is barbaric and tribal, frozen in time for over a thousand years, not open to rational scrutiny but only to unquestioned obedience (as the Indonesian cleric emphasized). To impose this primitive code by force is to inject religion into every aspect of human thought and action—which is the ultimate goal of Islamic Totalitarianism.

To begin to enshrine the inviolability of individual rights as the central principle of government, clerics of all kinds must be stripped of political power. There can be no freedom of thought and speech if those with claims to mystically derived ideas can enforce them coercively. Only by breaking the link between state power and religious belief can the state become a protector of each person’s right to worship or not worship as he wishes; only complete separation of religion and government can enable the government to serve its proper function: to protect each person’s right to think, speak, and act as he chooses.

Given this understanding of the issue, how should we begin to confront Totalitarian Islam? Again, there is precedent in history. The basic principles of a rational policy towards Islamic Totalitarianism—with clear strategic implications—were revealed in a striking telegram sent by the U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes to General Douglas MacArthur, the American commander in Japan, in October, 1945. The telegram established the basic U.S. policy goals towards Shintoism, and laid out, for MacArthur and his subordinates, the basic principles by which those goals were to be achieved:

Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People would not be taxed to support National Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion—National Shinto, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto . . . The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. And the Japanese Government will be required to cease financial and other support of Shinto establishments.

The telegram is clear about the need for separation between religion and state—between an individual’s right to follow Shinto and the government’s power to enforce it. This requirement applies to Islam today (and to Christianity and Judaism) as strongly as it did to Shinto. In regard to Japan, the job involved breaking the link between Shinto and state; in regard to Islamic Totalitarianism the task involves breaking the link between Islam and state. This is the central political issue we face: the complete lack of any conceptual or institutional separation between church and state in Islam, both historically and in the totalitarian movement today.

As for what we should do about this, the 1945 telegram is direct. Here is its opening, rewritten to substitute Islam for Shinto:

Islam, as it is a religion of individuals, is not to be interfered with. Islam, however, insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by any government, is to be done away with.

There is no question here about religious freedom. Individual religious belief is to be left alone—as is all freedom to think and to speak by one’s own judgment—but state religion must be eliminated. It is vital that this principle be understood, stated clearly, and enforced—for this is a precondition of the thorough and permanent defeat of America’s current enemy.

Totalitarian Islam, an ideology that merges state power with religious belief, must go.

But proponents of Islamic Totalitarianism have political power, to some extent, in dozens of nations. Should we attack them all, immediately? No. We need to aim for the political, economic, and ideological center of this movement—the core that embodies its naked essence and that fuels it worldwide. This does not mean finding the particular people who organized the 9/11 attacks. The question is: In which state is Islam most solidly linked with political power, dedicated to the violent spread of Islamic rule, and infused with hatred of America? What state is founded on these ideas, and their practice, as a matter of principle? There is a clear answer, which is known, admittedly or not, by almost everyone today. The political centerpiece of Islamic Totalitarianism today—the state in which Islam is most militantly welded to political power and contempt for America and the West—the world leader in the violent spread of Islam—is Iran.

The Iranian Islamic State was born in an act of war against America—the seizure of the American embassy in 1979—and has chanted “Death to America” ever since. Even Muslims at odds with Iran for sectarian reasons, such as many followers of Osama Bin Laden, draw inspiration from it as they engage in their own jihads against the West. Bin Laden’s most important effect in this regard has been to energize and empower radical Muslims to rise above the petty squabbles between Persian and Arab, and between Sunni and Shiite, to join Iran against the “Great Satan”: America. Hezbollah, Hamas, and company are dependent on Iran for ideological, political, and economic strength. It is Iran that addresses the U.N. as a world leader; it is Iran that is openly committed to acquiring the weapons needed to take control of the Middle East; it is Iran that poses as the defender of Muslims against the West (for instance, through loyal clerics in Iraq); and it is Iran that has gained power since the U.S. removed its strongest regional opponent in Iraq.

The conclusion is inescapable. The road to the defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism begins in Tehran. America, acting alone and with overwhelming force, must destroy the Iranian Islamic State now. It must do so openly, and indeed spectacularly, for the entire world to see, for this is the only way to demonstrate the spectacular failure and incompetence of the Islamic fundamentalist movement as a whole.

This demonstration must embody the virtue of integrity—the unity of principles and practice. Intellectually, we must state our intentions and reasons openly, without hiding behind timid diplomatic-speak. Physically, we must act decisively, and with all the force we deem necessary, to eliminate the Iranian regime as quickly as possible, and with the least risk to American soldiers. Only when the world sees this demonstration of American resolve will America begin to see peace and security.

It is vital that Americans take this action for the right moral reasons, openly stated. We must not seek legitimacy for the removal of the Iranian Islamic State beyond the principle of our right to defend ourselves. To pretend that something more than this principle is needed would be to deny the sufficiency of the principle. To base our reasons on the alleged good of others, especially on any alleged benefits to the people of the Middle East, would be to accept a position of moral dhimmitude: the moral subordination of our right to life and self-defense to an allegedly higher principle. It would be to subordinate our lives to the lives of the ayatollahs—who would become our masters. If we cannot stand on the principle of our right to life and liberty against the Islamic Totalitarians’ claim that we must submit to the will of “Allah,” then we cannot claim the right to exist. America’s “weakness of will” is the jihadists’ great hope—as it was the hope of Japanese warriors—but it is something they cannot impose on us. Their only prayer is that we will accept it voluntarily. The price for doing so is our lives and the lives of our children. We must not submit.

To remove this cancerous Islamic State loudly and forthrightly will have immediate benefits. We would avenge the thousands of American terror victims since the 1960s. We would reverse the pitiful image we projected when Iranians stormed our embassy in 1979, and when we fled from Mogadishu and from Lebanon—actions that the Islamic Totalitarians claimed as evidence of our weakness. We could even reverse a tremendous injustice by un-nationalizing the oil companies in Iran—stolen from their owners in 1951—and placing them back into private hands, under government protection. Certainly guarding those facilities from a surrounding civil war—a legitimate protection of private property, backed by a credible threat of crushing force—would be a far better use of our troops than guarding a few blocks in downtown Baghdad from its own residents. The pipeline of money into Islamic jihad would be cut.

Most importantly, by ousting the regime in Iran, we would send a clear message to the world: Political Islam is finished. Weaker states and groups would cringe in terror—as they did briefly after 9/11—and would literally retreat into holes in the ground. Anti-totalitarian forces across the world would be emboldened by the sight of a real defense of life and liberty. Allies we never knew existed would raise their heads with confidence and join the cause of freedom. The land of the free—rejuvenated as the home of the brave—would rejoice as the nation of the secure. We would truly be on the road to victory, freedom, and peace. By affirming the efficacy of reason and individual rights over incompetent dark-age theocracy, America could once again claim its place as a real world leader, and become a beacon for those who understand, and value, freedom.

Once this central task is complete, further intransigent policies toward Islamic Totalitarianism will be necessary. One pertains to state economic support for Islam, another to state-sponsored education. The 1945 telegram—again, with Islam replacing Shinto—addresses both of these points:

Islam, however, insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People [will] not be taxed to support Islam and there will be no place for Islam in the schools.

The Muslim world must be made to understand that any government that provides economic support to jihadists will be summarily destroyed. In order for this policy to be taken seriously, we must demonstrate its truth—by destroying the Iranian regime and stating why we have done so. Only the clear threat that “you will be next” can break the entangled network of Islamic economic support for jihad that masquerades as “economic development.” There can be no more playing games with Saudi apologists who speak smooth English and describe their work as “charity.” In 2003, the International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi charity, claimed to have dug 1,615 wells throughout the Middle East—but it also established 4,400 mosques and distributed millions of Islamic books and pamphlets. The result has been the display, on television, of young children as “True Muslims,” trained to see Jews as pigs and apes, screaming “Allahu Akbar” and dedicating themselves to jihad.13 Such “charity” means raising money to spread the ideas, and tactics, of Totalitarian Islam. It must end.

Ending this state economic support cannot occur without confronting one of Islam’s five pillars: alms. By separating church and state, alms can become something that it has never been in Islam: truly private charity. In the primitive society in which Mohammed lived, there was no concept of the separation of church and state. The religious leaders were the political leaders, and the payment of alms was a state-imposed taxation as much as a religious duty. Since then, nothing has changed within Islam. It is high time that all government involvement in so-called “charities” be ended. All states known to have sponsored terrorism against the West must be forbidden to impose taxes or provide funding on behalf of Islam.

Regarding education, the adapted 1945 telegram ends as follows:

Islam as a state religion—National Islam, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Islam . . . The dissemination of Islamic militaristic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. Middle Eastern Governments will be required to cease financial and other support of Islamic establishments.

One of the strongest parallels between Japanese Shintoism and Islamic Totalitarianism is the deep inculcation of theological militarism in children—a philosophical ideology centered on military service to a divinely sanctioned state—and the suicidal “socialization for death” that results. In each case, the central purpose of the educational system is to train children to obey a divine presence by inculcating in them a sense of submission and insignificance married to violence. Japanese children memorized the calls to duty by the Emperor; indoctrinated Islamic children memorize sword verses in the Koran. Japanese children bowed to the Emperor and obeyed his generals; Islamic children bow to Allah and obey his clerics. The grip of Islam over education has to be broken, as was the grip of Shinto over the schools in Japan.

After the regime in Iran is destroyed, the leadership in countries sponsoring such state training in Islamic jihad—especially Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—must choose: Close the state-funded schools, or face the Iranian alternative. Until the U.S. demonstrates the nature of that choice, by serious retaliation against Iran, unambiguously connecting principled words to practical actions, there is no reason for any Middle Eastern leader to expect serious consequences. Until then, they are right to regard us as a paper tiger. Only the forthright destruction of the Iranian Islamic State can demonstrate the resolve needed for this task.

As the telegram makes clear, the dissemination of militarism is broader than the schools; it encompasses the media. Ending Japan as a threat, and reforming the society in a long-lasting way, required the strict suppression of militaristic education, publications, and broadcasts. This is also necessary in the case of Totalitarian Islam.

America needs a Commander-in-Chief today who can understand and state this simple truth: In war, there is no “right” to free speech on behalf of an enemy. The string of obviously false, contrived, and manipulated “news” by the supporters of jihad—the staging of civilians crying when a home is destroyed, and the throwing about of children’s dolls when a terrorist’s safe house is wrecked—are all part of the enemy’s war effort. In war, the psychological disarmament of the enemy, including the inculcation of terror through vicious propaganda, is part of the fight. American unwillingness to quash such propaganda is seen, by our enemies, not as respect for freedom of speech, but rather as a lack of will and as evidence of weakness. In the present situation, Americans must forcibly prohibit the dissemination of militaristic ideology and propaganda anywhere it rises. To make the point clear, Al-Jazeera—the fountainhead of Muslim taqiyya, or deception—must be shut down.

In summary, Political Islam, Militant Islam, rule by Islamic Law—and all the economic and intellectual support associated with it—must go. This means that Iran must go.

The removal of Islamic political states will not be the end of the task; many intellectual battles will have to be waged. Most importantly, Western intellectuals must present not only a negative—a repudiation of the Totalitarian Universe—but also a positive—a clear explanation to the world that the moral purpose of a government is to protect its citizens’ rights to think and act on the judgment of their own minds, free from coercion by church, mosque, or state. But such battles cannot be fought by pretending that those who make death threats instead of arguments are offering anything but clubs in place of syllogisms.

This is not a clash between civilizations; it is a clash between civilization and barbarism. Until civilized people assert themselves with a depth of moral confidence exceeding that projected by those who submit to the “will of Allah,” America will remain permanently on the defensive, in a state of moral dhimmitude, and the war will continue to its logical conclusion: a mushroom cloud over America.

Is it possible for a “moderate” form of Islam to become an alternative to the totalitarian world-view infecting so many Muslims? Perhaps, but let us be clear about what this would mean. This would mean an Islam that is explicitly separated from political power. It would mean an Islam whose clerics renounce all attempts to impose its law by force. It would mean an Islam that (like modern Christianity) is open to critical self-reflection, whose thinkers examine the Koran as a set of stories, compiled and interpreted by men—and not the infallible word of God to be spread by the sword. It would mean an Islam that allows apostates to make their own decisions, and that tolerates no death threats against them. It would mean the explicit rejection—by Muslims—of State Islam, Islamic Law, and the pursuit of jihad. Such “moderate” Muslims will support the obliteration of Totalitarian Islam. The rest must witness the defeat of this poisonous ideology, and grasp the hopelessness of supporting it.

To achieve this goal requires us to be confident in our positions; certain of our own rightness; and forthright in our commitment to freedom and the defense of individual rights. Hiding the truth behind allegedly “prudent” language designed to obfuscate our intentions is of no use against an ideology with the directness of Islam. We cannot out-taqiyya the Islamic Totalitarians. We must state our end goal openly and clearly; we must identify the principled means of achieving it; and we must become people of integrity—people who act in accordance with their values and convictions. There is no substitute for integrity, and that means no substitute for victory.

There was a time when this was understood in America. In 1945, Americans knew that there was truly “no substitute for victory,” as General MacArthur said in his farewell speech to Congress. In 1945, Americans also knew the meaning of “victory.” It was not a mere word, empty of content. It named a specific task, and a precise goal. To say that our aim today is “to attain victory” can be as empty and futile as urging a college student to “do well,” or a businessman to “succeed.” What constitutes “doing well”? What is “success”? How will we know when we have achieved “victory”? The question is: What is it that we really need from the enemy?

History offers yet another example. The words proclaimed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which defined the terms of victory, and which he held intransigently for over two years, are “Unconditional Surrender.” Bringing long-term peace to the world, said FDR,

involves the simple formula of placing the objective of this war in terms of an unconditional surrender. . . . Unconditional surrender means not the destruction of the . . . Japanese populace, but does mean the destruction of a philosophy . . . which is based on the conquest and subjugation of other peoples.

In other words, continued FDR:

We have learned that if we do not pull the fangs of the predatory animals of the world, they will multiply and grow in strength . . . [they] must be disarmed and kept disarmed, and they must abandon the philosophy which has brought so much suffering to the world.14

The term “Unconditional Surrender” has been closely linked to Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, who demanded “no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender” from his southern foe at Fort Donelson, Kentucky. For this victory, Grant was heroized as “Unconditional Surrender” Grant. To Americans of the time, “U. S.” stood for Ulysses S. Grant, for the United States, and for Unconditional Surrender. Americans demanded nothing less than victory, and equated victory with their own identity as a nation.

This is what we must regain today: the sense of ourselves as right to drive victoriously over a viciously evil enemy. We must demand the unconditional surrender of the Islamic State in Iran—and of every other Islamic Totalitarian State on earth—to the legitimate laws of man, the laws that protect individual rights. Every Islamic cleric must renounce the goal of inciting his audience to jihad; he must proclaim, loudly and openly, his repudiation of Islamic law; he must state his intention to live under the laws of men in accordance with the requirements of man’s life on earth. Every Muslim intellectual must denounce the Islamic State as an aberration and a monstrosity, as being contrary to the requirements of life on earth. Immediate, personal destruction can be the only alternative.

If it is true that the majority of Middle Eastern people want a decent free life for themselves—as the vast majority of Japanese did after August, 1945—then they will rejoice over the excision of Totalitarian Islam from their midst. They will cheer for the freedom to make their own decisions about their own lives. They will react as the Japanese did—by embracing a constitutional government that renounces war, by purging state religion from the schools, by excising militarism from the media, and by building corporations rather than suicide cults. But if they do not, the unconditional surrender of Islamic Totalitarianism must be taken to mean its political defeat: There will be no negotiations over the place of Islam in government, for it has no such place.

Americans, and all lovers of civilization, must realize something: We can do this. This is not some Platonic ideal, good in theory but unattainable in practice. We Americans can—and must—re-establish our integrity by re-uniting our ideals and our actions. History is on our side here. In relative terms, the physical forces facing America and her allies in 1941 were far more formidable than those we face today, and America then was far weaker militarily. In our own day, the technological and industrial superiority of the U.S. over the Middle East is staggering. Islamic warriors can shoot an AK-47, but they cannot build one; all of the arms possessed by Islamic countries come from outside those countries. They are pathetically weak; the American army ended the regime of Saddam Hussein in three weeks, after Iran could not beat him in eight years. Our overwhelming material advantage, however, will be of no help if we lack the will to drop a bomb—or if we use our forces to strengthen our enemies. As it was for Germany and Japan in the 1930s, so it is today: The power of the Islamic Totalitarians grows every day that we wait. The strategic balance will shift—the Islamic Totalitarians will have the capacity as well as the will to bring about the nuclear Armageddon that they so deeply crave—if Iran acquires nuclear bombs. It is not a kindness to wait, knowing that our response will have to be even more lethal after a mushroom cloud rises over American soil. To wait, in light of that knowledge, is irrational—criminally irrational.

The need to understand the gravity of this situation—and our capacity to prevent a catastrophe—is particularly urgent at this moment in time. It is obvious that the defeat of the Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections was a repudiation of President Bush’s policies in this war. But it is more important to understand that President Bush has not mounted an offensive strategy, and that an offensive strategy is not the reason why American troops are dying in Iraq. There has been no drive to victory, only a string of casualties and the progressive discouragement of the American people. As a result, our primary enemy has been strengthened, and allowed to address the world as a leader just a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. (Imagine Hitler being granted this privilege.) Bush’s war strategy of non-war has resulted in a functional paralysis caused by our self-imposed failure to identify and confront open and avowed enemies.

What has been demonstrably repudiated by the actions of the Bush administration is not the first of the options I presented, but the second. What has been tried and has failed are the altruistic, pragmatic policies of an administration that is as desperate to appear tough as it is to avoid being tough. The Democrats—the party that won World War II by dropping two atomic bombs—have an opportunity to regain a position of moral stature before the American people. Should they not do so—should they choose to retreat—then their unwillingness to value the lives of American citizens over the lives of foreign enemies will be made clear, and the Democrats will be seen as no better, no more principled, no more courageous, and no more American than the Republicans.

Our military capacities are not in doubt today. It is our moral self-confidence that is in question. What was it that stopped us from confronting Iran in 1979, except a lack of confidence in our own rightness, and an unwillingness to defend ourselves for our own sakes? Had we removed the Iranian regime in 1979, thousands of Americans would have been saved, and children across the world would not have grown up with sword verses rising in their minds as they give their lives to jihad. Consider the Japanese—and ask whether it would have been in our interest to have left the regime of 1945 in power, to continue preaching religious militarism and training kamikaze. The best thing Americans did for themselves (and, incidentally, the kindest thing for the Japanese) was to burn that regime to the ground. So it is today. The Islamic State—Totalitarian Islam—must go. And it is the moral responsibility of every American to demand it.

President Bush’s lack of historical, moral, and religious clarity

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2007 at 4:09 AM

A society founded on a religion that commands: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” looks decidedly different from one in which the Official Faith commands: “…kill the unbelievers wherever you find them….” Because America is an heir of the former tradition, it is at its core a “shining City on a hill.” The love of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness enshrined in our country’s founding documents is a natural outgrowth of the doctrines of Christ.

As for the latter tradition, it is clear that President Bush is either unwilling or unable to admit its true nature. While he mischaracterizes Islam as a “great world religion”–equating it with Christianity–the Religion of Death grows in political power around the world. More and more of the Majority of Moderate Muslims we hear of so often remains silent, uses democracy to move every land in which it lives toward Shari’a, and Infidel states cower as they are overwhelmed, intimidated, and murdered within their own borders by the Religionists of Peace.

This is why Americans (excluding those “citizens” who in reality hate America and are therefore undeserving of the appellation) are becoming less supportive of the direction of our war effort. Even if unfamiliar with Islam’s “sacred” texts and historical bloodlust, when the People see their leaders repeatedly giving money to, cajoling, and praising the ideology of those who kill their sons and daughters, they instinctively know a change is needed.

Our nation would enthusiastically embrace a leader with clarity, courage, and a love for America (which disqualifies most Leftists, but since most Republicans are that In Name Only, we may end up with four more years of Clinton anyway).

Following is a devastating look at our Global War on a Tactic and how President Bush has unnecessarily sacrificed too many of our Bravest and Best to the god of multiculturalism and his lack of historical, moral, and religious clarity.

What Oriana Fallaci does with passion and common sense, John Lewis does with an apt historical example.

No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism, by John Lewis (courtesy Robert Spencer, links in the original).

Author’s note: This article was adapted from a lecture I presented at the Ayn Rand Institute’s OCON conference “The Jihad Against the West,” in Boston, MA, on October 21, 2006.

The Greek historian Thucydides, writing about the calamitous war that had destroyed his own world, made an important observation about the causes of historical events: Even though circumstances may change, human nature remains the same; and certain human elements—especially moral and psychological factors—are at the root of all wars. We can disagree with Thucydides about the identity of those factors, and reject his pessimistic view of human nature, but we will benefit from accepting his challenge to rise above particular circumstances and focus on the principles of human action that are common to all time. Differences in technology, politics, or economics will always remain secondary to the ideas that motivate aggressors to launch bloody attacks and that empower—or restrain—defenders opposing those attacks.

In that spirit, let us begin by considering an event of cataclysmic proportions, a deadly attack against Americans, and then examine two possible responses to it. This approach will show us that the crisis we face today—a series of highly motivated attacks against the heart of civilization—is not unique, can be understood, and can be ended—if we choose to understand and end it.

The attack under consideration kills thousands of Americans. Foreign governments, well known to us, have sponsored such attacks for years in their pursuit of a continental-scale totalitarian empire. The fire motivating the slaughter is a militaristic, religious-political ideology that values war as a demonstration of loyalty to a deity, demands obedience to its spokesmen, and imposes its edicts over millions of people. Thousands of individuals, indoctrinated as youths, are eager to engage in suicide attacks, and many more are willing to die through acquiescence and submission, should the state so demand. The enemy soldier is highly motivated, thoroughly brainwashed, and willing to die for his god and his cause. The enemy’s children and soldiers memorize words such as these:

The battlefield is where our army displays its true character, conquering whenever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread our deity’s reign far and wide, so that the enemy may look up in awe to his august virtues.1

They accept, as moral imperatives, ideas such as these:

[F]ight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war; but if they repent, and practice our way, then accept them. . . . You shall fight back against those who do not believe in God, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what God and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth.2

Millions of people embrace such injunctions as unquestioned commandments. Their suicidal attacks continue for years.

How should Americans respond to this attack? Under the pressures of a deadly emergency, American leaders must make important decisions, and the American people must decide whether they will support those decisions. Let us consider and evaluate two options, and ask which we should use.

To set course for one possible response, the President addresses the American people, and identifies the enemy nations involved. He asks for, and receives, a formal declaration of war from Congress. He pledges to achieve victory as quickly as possible, a goal which he defines as the unconditional surrender of the enemy regimes, and a fundamental repudiation of war by those involved.

Americans mount a vigorous offense against the center of the enemy’s power. Waves of bombers obliterate dozens of enemy cities. His food is choked off, his military is decimated, his industry is bombarded, his ships are sunk, his harbors are mined—his people are psychologically shattered. In a single night, a hundred thousand civilians die in a firestorm in his capital. Americans drop leaflets telling the enemy population which cities could be next. Civilians are immersed in propaganda from their government, telling them that they are winning the war—yet they cower defenselessly while American bombers level their homes.

One of our generals announces his personal goal: to “kill the bastards.” We name our final drive against the enemy, “Operation Downfall.” A force of overpowering magnitude amasses on the enemy’s borders, as thousands of American bombers pulverize his cities. The President and two foreign allies issue an ultimatum that includes these words:

The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the enemy armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the enemy homeland. . . .

The time has come for the enemy nation to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought them to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason. . . .

Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay. . . .

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world. . . .

Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established. . . .

We call upon the enemy to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative is prompt and utter destruction.3

When the enemy balks at the ultimatum, atomic bombs are dropped on his cities. He surrenders, thus acknowledging the reality of his defeat and making a political decision to cease fighting. He orders his reluctant soldiers to lay down their arms. The American military occupies the defeated nation. We censor the media, impose reforms on schools, dismantle economic cartels, efface militaristic language from discourse at all levels, and write a political constitution which they are forced to accept. We tell them, pointedly and publicly, that they are defeated, and that we have no obligations to them. When they face starvation, we remind them that their miseries are their own fault. We charge them for many of the costs of the occupation. Not one dime of aid arrives until they demonstrate their complete surrender, in word and in action, including their repudiation of the militaristic ideology that motivated their attacks.

This principled, all-out merciless offense is one possible response to the sneak attack. Now let us consider a second, very different, response.

The President addresses the nation, identifies the enemy as the particular people involved in the attacks, and defines them by the tactics they used. He makes no declaration of war, but pledges to lead us to victory in the war he intends to wage, which, he says, will be long. He defines victory as democracy for the nations behind the attacks. A week later, he reminds us that those who practice the religion of the attackers “must feel comfortable” in America.4 Two months later, he invites leaders of the religion to the White House, for a prayer meeting.5

Our leaders realize that the particular attackers have bases in a poor, isolated country, so we invade that country, and drive its government into the surrounding mountains. We name our campaign “Operation Infinite Justice,” but when adherents of the attackers’ religion complain, we change it to “Operation Enduring Freedom.” We drop bombs, but they are precision-guided to avoid hitting civilians and religious buildings. Many of our bombers drop food. The enemy flees to a neighboring country, ruled by a nuclear-armed dictator whom we call an “ally” and whose borders we do not cross. Within this “ally’s” borders, schools train more attackers, who flood across the borders, cause more carnage, and kill more Americans.

In search of democracy, and following our desire to free foreign peoples from oppression, we attack and depose another dictator in the area. This secular thug, whom we had once armed, had fought a long war against a neighboring country founded upon the same hostile ideology as those who attacked us. The people we liberate from him establish a government based on that same hostile ideology—which we allow, since our goal was to enable them to vote—and they strengthen ties with other nations founded on this ideology. One of our generals states his own view of our goal: to foster the enemy’s “ability to compromise on their political goals, accommodate their sectarian differences and demonstrate to ordinary people that a democratic central government can serve their needs.”6 We name our campaign “Operation Freedom for Them.”

We act with great restraint, establishing rules of engagement that limit the use of force by our military. We apologize when we hurt civilians, prosecute our soldiers if they humiliate prisoners, assign correspondents to military units to monitor their actions, and send lawyers with our troops to ensure that they “follow the rules.” When captured Americans are beheaded on television, we do not close down the broadcasts or attack the governments financing them—we search for the particular killers. When the enemy acquires nuclear power plants, we refer to the country providing him with those plants as a “friend” and an “ally.” When the enemy uses banks to finance his war against us, we call on our lawyers to “freeze his assets,” but never call on our generals to destroy his capital. We remind the people in his nation incessantly that our war is not with them, but rather with “extremists” who have “hijacked a great religion.”

Now, which of these two responses—the all-out, merciless, military offense, or the restrained, diplomatic, semi-military approach, should we choose? Let us evaluate them, according to several ideas widely accepted today.

First, we are told today that only so-called “proportional” force is morally proper. We need to wage a “just war,” one founded on altruistic moral principles, using strictly limited force, for strictly limited ends, aimed at the good of others. The well-being of others—including the enemy’s people—must be our concern, and this requires severe self-restraint on our part. That the enemy does not act this way when he kills our people is of no concern. According to these moral views, we must hold the well-being of others as an absolute, regardless of the consequences; we must be willing to place our soldiers in mortal danger in order to protect enemy civilians—even though they often aid and abet enemy fighters. A military offense for our own self-protection would transgress the bounds of a “just war,” says the accepted wisdom.

This moral obligation to use our force only in limited degrees and always for the good of others raises two questions: What, in this view, is the right amount of limited force? And what constitutes the good of others? These two questions are answered by means of the methodology of pragmatism (i.e., doing what “works” for the moment) and the morality of altruism (i.e., the morality of “otherism”). We will use these two widely accepted philosophical positions to direct our response to those attacking us.

Following these principles, we will have to determine our policies and strategies on a case-by-case basis. Our actions must be pragmatic and adaptable, contingent on local circumstances and the consensus of others. The right amount of force is that which does not upset the enemy too much; if we use too much of our power, we will cause hard feelings and a desire for vengeance in the enemy, which will breed a new generation of enemy soldiers. We should, in this view, respond with compassion and understanding, engaging in “dialogue” with him, building power plants and digging toilets in his land rather than attacking him. This, we are told, will “win hearts and minds.” Based on these practical and moral considerations, the first option, the all-out offense, must be rejected; the restrained response is best.

Second, we are told that we must not declare war against a nation, only against its leadership or particular miscreants. Most people, we hear, do not want war; there is a “universal hunger for liberty,” and people will regale us with flowers if we “liberate” them from oppression. We are told that “freedom” is “God’s gift to all people,” and that our “calling” is to create the conditions by which others can embrace this gift. Their freedom—meaning, we are told, democracy—is the root of our security; and protecting their “right” to vote—not defeating them—must be our goal. We must grant them the freedom to establish any government they wish—even one akin to the regimes of our attackers—if it expresses their democratic desires. Again, the offensive response must be shunned; the restrained approach is our only choice.

Third, we are told that an overwhelming offense fails to respect the culture of a foreign nation. All cultures are equal, multiculturalism teaches us, and each must be equally respected. For us to claim a sense of superiority over other cultures would reveal a “Eurocentric bias” that fails to acknowledge “multi-variant” forms of logic, and the relativism of all values. According to altruism, this means that other cultures are due more respect than our own, since we must subordinate our own people and resources to their needs, even if those cultures actively oppose our own selfish interests. According to pragmatism, respecting their “right” to “self-determination” rather than defeating them will make them feel better and thus momentarily quell the violence. Our soldiers must be trained to respect the cultural differences between themselves and the enemy. When enemy soldiers are captured, for instance, they must be given books sympathetic to their own positions, and be allowed to practice their cultural-religious rituals.

(The same strategy, we hear, must be used inside America, against people of the same ideology as the enemy. An American police officer recently told me that he undergoes “sensitivity training” to “understand” and “respect” the cultural basis of rampant domestic violence in a neighborhood he patrols. He is cautioned to avoid “cultural imperialism” and “racism,” the sin of thinking that American culture is superior because it forbids the beating of wives. A man in Colorado, sentenced to jail for enslaving an Indonesian woman, said: “Your Honor, I am not here to apologize, for I cannot apologize for things I did not do and crimes I did not commit. The state has criminalized these basic [religious] behaviors.” The man said he treated the woman the way any family of his cultural convictions would treat a daughter: by locking her in the basement.7)

According to multiculturalism, a serious military offense would be anathema. We must allow peoples of other cultures to express their “cultural identities”—whether that involves eating falafels, chanting “Death to America,” or detonating their children in Israeli restaurants.

If one observes that all of this makes it impossible to develop a principled approach to an ever-deepening crisis, the philosophy of pragmatism has an explanation. The pragmatic world-view tells us that reality is messy and contradictory; to deal with a reality that is constantly shifting, we need flexibility, not firm principles. To be principled is to be an inflexible “ideologue.” To be practical is to shift with the “flux” that surrounds us, reacting on the range-of-the-moment, negotiating at every turn, compromising with anyone and everyone. We need to respond to each situation as a unique, particular event, without connection to other events. There are no lessons to be drawn from history; even the world of five years ago differs fundamentally from the world we face now. Politics is all trial and error.

Perhaps we should try “shuttle diplomacy”: appeasing one dictator here, buying off one over there, making deals with others, calling on allies to “put pressure on” another. The only absolute is that we must not engage in focused, principled military action toward a firm, self-interested, pro-American victory. The second, flexible, response is, again, the right choice—according to pragmatism.

Altruism leads to the same conclusion. To fight for our own benefit—to elevate our lives over those of our enemies—is almost universally condemned today as selfish and thus “immoral.” A moral war, according to altruism, is a war fought self-sacrificially, for the good of others, especially for the weak. It is only by a continuous policy of aiding others that we can rise to moral goodness. Even restrained, limited military action is wrong, if taken for our own benefit. In this view, a strong power is good only when it recognizes the moral claims of those in need—even enemies and their supporters. The route to peace is not through victory, since altruism (“otherism”) cannot abide the defeat of others. The “path to tomorrow” is through the sacrifice of our own wealth, values, and lives to the needs of others—even those who threaten us. Again, their freedom must be our goal—their prosperity must be our mission—if we wish to be “good.”

Pragmatism and altruism dictate American foreign policy today—as they have done for over fifty years. To be practical is to be pragmatic, and to be moral is to be altruistic—these are the accepted axioms of the modern day. An all-out offensive response, in this view, would be an utter disaster—pragmatically because it holds to principles in defiance of constantly shifting reality, and morally because it seeks the enemy’s defeat rather than his benefit. On the premises of pragmatism and altruism, the measured, proportional, restrained approach is our only option.

Students of history, of course, will recognize that the attack I posed—and the two responses—were not hypothetical. Such an attack has been launched against America twice in the past two generations, and both options have been tried. On the premises of pragmatism and altruism, the first response should have led to escalating hostilities and a new generation of war against America, and the second should have ended the attacks. The results, however, have been precisely the opposite. Let us proceed to see why.

On December 7, 1941, we were attacked by Japan, a country then governed by a militaristic, religious ideology, in pursuit of a divine empire, with indoctrinated soldiers who soon used suicide tactics. We chose the ruthless, offensive response. Three years and eight months later, the Japanese surrendered, their country in ruins, their people starving. Five years after the attacks, Japan had a constitution that included the following (from its famous Article 9): “[T]he Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation. . . . The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Sixty years after the U.S. ended two generations of aggressive Japanese warfare, Japan remains free, productive, and friendly to America. The Japanese have not abandoned their traditions—nor has anyone asked them to do so—but they no longer use them to kill and enslave others. Rather than seek our destruction, Japan has become a staunch political ally, a robust free-market competitor, and an invaluable economic producer. Rather than build bombs and fighter planes with which to attack us, the Japanese build cars and computers that contribute immensely to our own high standard of living.

In perfect contrast, the second option—the pragmatic, altruistic, limited-military response—has been the basic approach of the Bush Administration to the attacks of September 11, 2001. What are the results?

Afghanistan continues to be strafed by holy warriors trained in Pakistan—a nuclear-armed dictatorship that we have placed off-limits to our own forces. Iraq’s insurgency continues, with Shiite militias, no longer restrained either by Saddam Hussein or by us, growing to fill the political vacuum. Iran is emboldened, its fundamentalist leadership ever more vocal, its program of nuclear development open and expanding. Saudi Arabia—our alleged ally—funds religious schools that teach hatred of the West and train an endless stream of jihadists. We pay two-billion dollars a year in tribute to Egypt, so that they will refrain from attacking Israel. Sudan engages in genocide under theocratic rule, while Somalia, Nigeria, and other countries are following suit, their tribal clerics doling out Islamic law under trees. Syria—a second-generation thugocracy on the verge of collapse a few years ago—has been resurrected and emboldened. Hezbollah has taken over Southern Lebanon. The Gaza is a new terror enclave under the democratically elected terror-cult Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood is winning elections in Egypt. Other anti-Western militant groups are winning elections and subverting Western values from Spain to Indonesia. Across the world—including Canada, England, and the U.S.—Muslim cells plot more attacks and plan political takeovers, all the while hiding behind constitutional protections that they have sworn to destroy. Anyone daring to renounce or criticize Islam may have to live forever underground, in fear of murder sanctioned by religious decree.

Five years to the month after 9/11, and in stark contrast to the situation in Japan five years after Pearl Harbor, an Islamic cleric, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, a teacher at an Islamic school in Java, and a killer in the Bali bombing of 2002 who was released from prison in June 2006, now openly promotes a new constitution for Indonesia:

We demand an Islamic state, and not some form of Islamisation of society. We want the state to be Islamic, with Islamic leaders who have the courage and will to implement the Islamic law in total. . . .

We want an Islamic state where Islamic law is not just in the books but enforced, and enforced with determination. There is no space and no room for democratic consultation. The Islamic law is set and fixed, so why discuss it? Just implement it!

Right now we are drafting our own constitutional amendments for Indonesia, the framework for an Indonesian Islamic state where Islamic laws are enforced. Indonesians must understand that there is no Islamic state without the enforcement of Islamic laws.8

This is Islamic Totalitarianism—State Islam—rule by Islamic Law—and it is on the rise. While this cleric plots an Islamic State, people from countries where children are taught that Jews are born of pigs and monkeys, and that Israel is “occupied territory” and fair game for attack, rail against so-called anti-Muslim “prejudice.” Inside America, leaders of hostile countries give speeches to build “bridges of understanding” while building nuclear bombs overseas.9 Adherents of Islam claim to be victims of persecution, assertions they make on national television, from pulpits, and in tenured university positions.

Meanwhile, a state of siege is being more deeply entrenched inside America every day. We are losing the war by institutionalizing the loss of our freedoms, searching the sneakers of senior citizens in wheelchairs in order to avoid confronting bellicose dictatorships overseas. In the minds of many people, the Bush administration’s allegedly “offensive” strategy has discredited the very idea of genuinely offensive war for American self-interest, which it pledged to fight, and then betrayed to its core. Our soldiers come home maimed or dead, and military offense, rather than timidity, takes the blame. To compensate for our weakness overseas, we are building electric fences and security barriers to keep the world out, accepting the medieval ideal of walled towns under constant threat of attack, rather than destroying the source of such threats.

In short, the second, pragmatic, altruistic approach has failed. In the five years since 9/11, the motivations behind the Islamic attacks have not been suppressed—and this is the real failure of these policies. The number of particular attacks is not the measure of success or failure. The Islamic Totalitarians remain physically intact, spiritually committed, and politically empowered. The Islamic Totalitarian movement remains—distributed, without the strong central command Al Qaeda once had, but still energized—and it appears like hidden gushers, the jihad bursting forth in seemingly random places by internal pressure from an underground stream. Our acceptance of pragmatism, the policy of short-range trial and error that rejects principles on principle—and altruism, the morality of self-sacrifice—left no other result possible.

The reason for this failure is that every one of the ideas we used to evaluate our options is wrong. In every case, the opposite of today’s “conventional wisdom” is true.

  • A strong offense does not create new enemies; it defeats existing foes. Were this not so, we would be fighting German and Japanese suicide bombers today, while North Korea—undefeated by America—would be peaceful, prosperous, and free.
  • Poverty is not the “root cause” of wars. If it were, poor Mexicans would be attacking America, not begging for jobs at Wal-Mart.
  • Democracy is not a route to freedom—not for the Greeks who voted to kill Socrates, nor for the Romans who acclaimed Caesar, nor for the Germans who elected Hitler.
  • A culture of slavery and suicide is not equal to a culture of freedom and prosperity—not for those who value life.
  • The world is not a flux of contradictions, in which principles do not work. If it were, gravity would not hold, vaccinations would not work, and one would not have a right to one’s life.
  • Being moral does not mean sacrificing for others. It means accepting the American principle of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—and living for one’s own sake.

History is clear: All-out force against fanatical killers is both practical and moral. It led us to our two most important foreign policy successes—the defeats of Germany and Japan in 1945—and to the permanent peace with those nations that we take for granted today. Such a course was practical and moral then, and it is practical and moral now—an affirmation, and a defense, of life and civilization.

Rights-respecting people, those who do not initiate force against others, have a right to defend themselves for their own sakes—because they have a right to live. To do this, they must approach their enemies in a principled, self-interested way. Ayn Rand, in her essay on the nature of government, observed a vital relationship between man’s right to life and his right to self-defense:

The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.10

These words ring especially true in the war against Islamic Totalitarianism. The consequence of our failure to respond forthrightly to these attacks has been precisely to encourage and reward this movement. We have granted it a safe haven, allowed it to claim victory through continued existence, appealed to its apologists who spread anti-American venom, and emboldened those who wish to take up the fight against us. The solution is to renounce altruistic appeasement and pragmatic compromise, to recognize our own value, and to defend our lives by right. We must defeat these enemies, and we can.

Only after we understand that we should defeat these enemies, can we ask how. This point is vital, for the question of moral rightness is logically and psychologically prior to any question of strategy or tactics. If we do not understand that we should defeat them—if we think that we are as bad as they are, or that they have legitimate grievances that justify their attacks, or that we have created a situation that morally demands that we compensate them—then our lack of moral self-confidence will undercut our motivation to fight. But the facts do not warrant such a conclusion. We are morally right and the Islamic Totalitarians are evil—not merely in their methods, but, more fundamentally, in their values and goals. We have a moral responsibility to defeat them—if we want to live. We can and must approach this war with the moral self-confidence of those fighting for civilization itself—for the basic conditions on which human life depends—because that is precisely what is at stake.

Given that we should win, how then must our government confront Islamic Totalitarianism? Let us call again upon the defeat of Japan in 1945 as a valid, and vital, historical precedent.

These two conflicts have many political and military differences, and it would be an error to draw tactical lessons from 1945 and apply them directly to the present conflict. To name one such difference, Americans in 1941 did not have the military capacity to attack Japan directly and overwhelmingly (as they would a few years later); we were not able to bomb Japan, nor defeat its navy quickly. We were forced to use the kind of slow infantry tactics and “island hopping” that would not be necessary today. American ingenuity has created an explosion of technology, and the possibility of heretofore undreamed of tactics, which make it unnecessary for any American to be killed in the fight. That we have the overwhelming capacity to defeat the Islamic Totalitarians militarily is beyond doubt. Yet far from elevating technology to the key issue in winning a war, this illustrates the unequivocal importance of the moral self-confidence—the state of mind that proceeds from an awareness of one’s own moral goodness and efficacy—that is needed to use this weaponry. This is what enabled us to overcome serious material deficiencies and to drive victoriously over the Japanese in 1945. The question today is not whether we have the capacity to win; it is whether we have the self-confidence, and the will, to do so.

The basic similarities between the two conflicts begin with the ideas that motivated the attacks. The Japanese were motivated by a politicized religious ideology—Shintoism—that posited an all-powerful deity, indoctrinated their children, infected every aspect of their culture, and drove them to suicidal military actions that killed millions. An educational rescript of 1890—an Imperial decree, and one of the most influential documents in Japanese history—built this “mytho-religious ideology” into the classroom, making worship of the Emperor and duty to the State into the primary goals of education.11 Japanese people memorized its tenets, and were inculcated with what one Japanese scholar called “socialization for death.”12 A Japanese civilian remarked how, when she heard that the Emperor was going to address his people—an unprecedented event—the words she had memorized as a child rose in her mind: “Should any emergency arise, offer yourself courageously to the State.” Such ideas, deeply internalized and mandated by law, motivated suicide bombers—kamikaze—to throw themselves fanatically against superior U.S. forces, and gave them hope for a final battle over weak-willed Americans. This kamikaze fire was extinguished by the crushing American offensive of 1945.

The Islamic Totalitarian movement has a similar fire burning at its core—an authoritarian, state-centered religion, replete with state-funded educational indoctrination, a massive suicide cult on behalf of the deity and state, and hope for a final battle over the Americans. The key to extinguishing this fire, I submit—the sine qua non required to end the spiral of indoctrination, jihad, and suicidal attacks on the West—is to do what was done against Japan: to break the political power of the state religion. State Islam—Totalitarian Islam—rule by Islamic Law—must be obliterated.

A vital point about politics and government must be remembered here. Government holds a legal monopoly on the use of force in a geographic area. Governments do not make suggestions—they pass and enforce laws. They must do this, in order to protect our freedom to think and speak—but within proper limits, defined by the principle of individual rights and codified in a constitution that is the nation’s fundamental law. The purpose of a proper government is to protect the rights of its citizens—each citizen’s freedom to think and act on his own judgment—by using retaliatory force as necessary against criminals and foreign invaders.

A government that turns its force against its own citizens, especially to impose an ideological doctrine on them, subordinates the rights of individuals to the demands of the State. This is statism—the elevation of the State over the individual, and the inversion of the very purpose of government. Statism is the greatest killer in history—dwarfing all attacks by criminals—precisely because it is motivated by some form of mystical political ideology. Because statists claim an authority that is above the rights of man—whether the Fuehrer’s master race, the communists’ dialectic, or the theocrat’s God—they do not recognize the principle of individual rights or the self-ownership of men on earth; rather, they claim the right to rule men, and to kill with impunity anyone who disobeys the ideology or regime.

What the aforementioned Indonesians—and all of us—must understand is that there is no recognition of individual rights, no legitimate constitution, and thus no freedom, under religious law in any form. The all-encompassing, totalitarian nature of Islamic Law—its claims to divine origin, its commitment to uphold “Allah’s” will, and its ultimate goal of making everyone on earth submit to it—leaves no room for individual rights or freedom. This code is barbaric and tribal, frozen in time for over a thousand years, not open to rational scrutiny but only to unquestioned obedience (as the Indonesian cleric emphasized). To impose this primitive code by force is to inject religion into every aspect of human thought and action—which is the ultimate goal of Islamic Totalitarianism.

To begin to enshrine the inviolability of individual rights as the central principle of government, clerics of all kinds must be stripped of political power. There can be no freedom of thought and speech if those with claims to mystically derived ideas can enforce them coercively. Only by breaking the link between state power and religious belief can the state become a protector of each person’s right to worship or not worship as he wishes; only complete separation of religion and government can enable the government to serve its proper function: to protect each person’s right to think, speak, and act as he chooses.

Given this understanding of the issue, how should we begin to confront Totalitarian Islam? Again, there is precedent in history. The basic principles of a rational policy towards Islamic Totalitarianism—with clear strategic implications—were revealed in a striking telegram sent by the U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes to General Douglas MacArthur, the American commander in Japan, in October, 1945. The telegram established the basic U.S. policy goals towards Shintoism, and laid out, for MacArthur and his subordinates, the basic principles by which those goals were to be achieved:

Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People would not be taxed to support National Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion—National Shinto, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto . . . The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. And the Japanese Government will be required to cease financial and other support of Shinto establishments.

The telegram is clear about the need for separation between religion and state—between an individual’s right to follow Shinto and the government’s power to enforce it. This requirement applies to Islam today (and to Christianity and Judaism) as strongly as it did to Shinto. In regard to Japan, the job involved breaking the link between Shinto and state; in regard to Islamic Totalitarianism the task involves breaking the link between Islam and state. This is the central political issue we face: the complete lack of any conceptual or institutional separation between church and state in Islam, both historically and in the totalitarian movement today.

As for what we should do about this, the 1945 telegram is direct. Here is its opening, rewritten to substitute Islam for Shinto:

Islam, as it is a religion of individuals, is not to be interfered with. Islam, however, insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by any government, is to be done away with.

There is no question here about religious freedom. Individual religious belief is to be left alone—as is all freedom to think and to speak by one’s own judgment—but state religion must be eliminated. It is vital that this principle be understood, stated clearly, and enforced—for this is a precondition of the thorough and permanent defeat of America’s current enemy.

Totalitarian Islam, an ideology that merges state power with religious belief, must go.

But proponents of Islamic Totalitarianism have political power, to some extent, in dozens of nations. Should we attack them all, immediately? No. We need to aim for the political, economic, and ideological center of this movement—the core that embodies its naked essence and that fuels it worldwide. This does not mean finding the particular people who organized the 9/11 attacks. The question is: In which state is Islam most solidly linked with political power, dedicated to the violent spread of Islamic rule, and infused with hatred of America? What state is founded on these ideas, and their practice, as a matter of principle? There is a clear answer, which is known, admittedly or not, by almost everyone today. The political centerpiece of Islamic Totalitarianism today—the state in which Islam is most militantly welded to political power and contempt for America and the West—the world leader in the violent spread of Islam—is Iran.

The Iranian Islamic State was born in an act of war against America—the seizure of the American embassy in 1979—and has chanted “Death to America” ever since. Even Muslims at odds with Iran for sectarian reasons, such as many followers of Osama Bin Laden, draw inspiration from it as they engage in their own jihads against the West. Bin Laden’s most important effect in this regard has been to energize and empower radical Muslims to rise above the petty squabbles between Persian and Arab, and between Sunni and Shiite, to join Iran against the “Great Satan”: America. Hezbollah, Hamas, and company are dependent on Iran for ideological, political, and economic strength. It is Iran that addresses the U.N. as a world leader; it is Iran that is openly committed to acquiring the weapons needed to take control of the Middle East; it is Iran that poses as the defender of Muslims against the West (for instance, through loyal clerics in Iraq); and it is Iran that has gained power since the U.S. removed its strongest regional opponent in Iraq.

The conclusion is inescapable. The road to the defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism begins in Tehran. America, acting alone and with overwhelming force, must destroy the Iranian Islamic State now. It must do so openly, and indeed spectacularly, for the entire world to see, for this is the only way to demonstrate the spectacular failure and incompetence of the Islamic fundamentalist movement as a whole.

This demonstration must embody the virtue of integrity—the unity of principles and practice. Intellectually, we must state our intentions and reasons openly, without hiding behind timid diplomatic-speak. Physically, we must act decisively, and with all the force we deem necessary, to eliminate the Iranian regime as quickly as possible, and with the least risk to American soldiers. Only when the world sees this demonstration of American resolve will America begin to see peace and security.

It is vital that Americans take this action for the right moral reasons, openly stated. We must not seek legitimacy for the removal of the Iranian Islamic State beyond the principle of our right to defend ourselves. To pretend that something more than this principle is needed would be to deny the sufficiency of the principle. To base our reasons on the alleged good of others, especially on any alleged benefits to the people of the Middle East, would be to accept a position of moral dhimmitude: the moral subordination of our right to life and self-defense to an allegedly higher principle. It would be to subordinate our lives to the lives of the ayatollahs—who would become our masters. If we cannot stand on the principle of our right to life and liberty against the Islamic Totalitarians’ claim that we must submit to the will of “Allah,” then we cannot claim the right to exist. America’s “weakness of will” is the jihadists’ great hope—as it was the hope of Japanese warriors—but it is something they cannot impose on us. Their only prayer is that we will accept it voluntarily. The price for doing so is our lives and the lives of our children. We must not submit.

To remove this cancerous Islamic State loudly and forthrightly will have immediate benefits. We would avenge the thousands of American terror victims since the 1960s. We would reverse the pitiful image we projected when Iranians stormed our embassy in 1979, and when we fled from Mogadishu and from Lebanon—actions that the Islamic Totalitarians claimed as evidence of our weakness. We could even reverse a tremendous injustice by un-nationalizing the oil companies in Iran—stolen from their owners in 1951—and placing them back into private hands, under government protection. Certainly guarding those facilities from a surrounding civil war—a legitimate protection of private property, backed by a credible threat of crushing force—would be a far better use of our troops than guarding a few blocks in downtown Baghdad from its own residents. The pipeline of money into Islamic jihad would be cut.

Most importantly, by ousting the regime in Iran, we would send a clear message to the world: Political Islam is finished. Weaker states and groups would cringe in terror—as they did briefly after 9/11—and would literally retreat into holes in the ground. Anti-totalitarian forces across the world would be emboldened by the sight of a real defense of life and liberty. Allies we never knew existed would raise their heads with confidence and join the cause of freedom. The land of the free—rejuvenated as the home of the brave—would rejoice as the nation of the secure. We would truly be on the road to victory, freedom, and peace. By affirming the efficacy of reason and individual rights over incompetent dark-age theocracy, America could once again claim its place as a real world leader, and become a beacon for those who understand, and value, freedom.

Once this central task is complete, further intransigent policies toward Islamic Totalitarianism will be necessary. One pertains to state economic support for Islam, another to state-sponsored education. The 1945 telegram—again, with Islam replacing Shinto—addresses both of these points:

Islam, however, insofar as it is directed by governments, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People [will] not be taxed to support Islam and there will be no place for Islam in the schools.

The Muslim world must be made to understand that any government that provides economic support to jihadists will be summarily destroyed. In order for this policy to be taken seriously, we must demonstrate its truth—by destroying the Iranian regime and stating why we have done so. Only the clear threat that “you will be next” can break the entangled network of Islamic economic support for jihad that masquerades as “economic development.” There can be no more playing games with Saudi apologists who speak smooth English and describe their work as “charity.” In 2003, the International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi charity, claimed to have dug 1,615 wells throughout the Middle East—but it also established 4,400 mosques and distributed millions of Islamic books and pamphlets. The result has been the display, on television, of young children as “True Muslims,” trained to see Jews as pigs and apes, screaming “Allahu Akbar” and dedicating themselves to jihad.13 Such “charity” means raising money to spread the ideas, and tactics, of Totalitarian Islam. It must end.

Ending this state economic support cannot occur without confronting one of Islam’s five pillars: alms. By separating church and state, alms can become something that it has never been in Islam: truly private charity. In the primitive society in which Mohammed lived, there was no concept of the separation of church and state. The religious leaders were the political leaders, and the payment of alms was a state-imposed taxation as much as a religious duty. Since then, nothing has changed within Islam. It is high time that all government involvement in so-called “charities” be ended. All states known to have sponsored terrorism against the West must be forbidden to impose taxes or provide funding on behalf of Islam.

Regarding education, the adapted 1945 telegram ends as follows:

Islam as a state religion—National Islam, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Islam . . . The dissemination of Islamic militaristic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. Middle Eastern Governments will be required to cease financial and other support of Islamic establishments.

One of the strongest parallels between Japanese Shintoism and Islamic Totalitarianism is the deep inculcation of theological militarism in children—a philosophical ideology centered on military service to a divinely sanctioned state—and the suicidal “socialization for death” that results. In each case, the central purpose of the educational system is to train children to obey a divine presence by inculcating in them a sense of submission and insignificance married to violence. Japanese children memorized the calls to duty by the Emperor; indoctrinated Islamic children memorize sword verses in the Koran. Japanese children bowed to the Emperor and obeyed his generals; Islamic children bow to Allah and obey his clerics. The grip of Islam over education has to be broken, as was the grip of Shinto over the schools in Japan.

After the regime in Iran is destroyed, the leadership in countries sponsoring such state training in Islamic jihad—especially Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—must choose: Close the state-funded schools, or face the Iranian alternative. Until the U.S. demonstrates the nature of that choice, by serious retaliation against Iran, unambiguously connecting principled words to practical actions, there is no reason for any Middle Eastern leader to expect serious consequences. Until then, they are right to regard us as a paper tiger. Only the forthright destruction of the Iranian Islamic State can demonstrate the resolve needed for this task.

As the telegram makes clear, the dissemination of militarism is broader than the schools; it encompasses the media. Ending Japan as a threat, and reforming the society in a long-lasting way, required the strict suppression of militaristic education, publications, and broadcasts. This is also necessary in the case of Totalitarian Islam.

America needs a Commander-in-Chief today who can understand and state this simple truth: In war, there is no “right” to free speech on behalf of an enemy. The string of obviously false, contrived, and manipulated “news” by the supporters of jihad—the staging of civilians crying when a home is destroyed, and the throwing about of children’s dolls when a terrorist’s safe house is wrecked—are all part of the enemy’s war effort. In war, the psychological disarmament of the enemy, including the inculcation of terror through vicious propaganda, is part of the fight. American unwillingness to quash such propaganda is seen, by our enemies, not as respect for freedom of speech, but rather as a lack of will and as evidence of weakness. In the present situation, Americans must forcibly prohibit the dissemination of militaristic ideology and propaganda anywhere it rises. To make the point clear, Al-Jazeera—the fountainhead of Muslim taqiyya, or deception—must be shut down.

In summary, Political Islam, Militant Islam, rule by Islamic Law—and all the economic and intellectual support associated with it—must go. This means that Iran must go.

The removal of Islamic political states will not be the end of the task; many intellectual battles will have to be waged. Most importantly, Western intellectuals must present not only a negative—a repudiation of the Totalitarian Universe—but also a positive—a clear explanation to the world that the moral purpose of a government is to protect its citizens’ rights to think and act on the judgment of their own minds, free from coercion by church, mosque, or state. But such battles cannot be fought by pretending that those who make death threats instead of arguments are offering anything but clubs in place of syllogisms.

This is not a clash between civilizations; it is a clash between civilization and barbarism. Until civilized people assert themselves with a depth of moral confidence exceeding that projected by those who submit to the “will of Allah,” America will remain permanently on the defensive, in a state of moral dhimmitude, and the war will continue to its logical conclusion: a mushroom cloud over America.

Is it possible for a “moderate” form of Islam to become an alternative to the totalitarian world-view infecting so many Muslims? Perhaps, but let us be clear about what this would mean. This would mean an Islam that is explicitly separated from political power. It would mean an Islam whose clerics renounce all attempts to impose its law by force. It would mean an Islam that (like modern Christianity) is open to critical self-reflection, whose thinkers examine the Koran as a set of stories, compiled and interpreted by men—and not the infallible word of God to be spread by the sword. It would mean an Islam that allows apostates to make their own decisions, and that tolerates no death threats against them. It would mean the explicit rejection—by Muslims—of State Islam, Islamic Law, and the pursuit of jihad. Such “moderate” Muslims will support the obliteration of Totalitarian Islam. The rest must witness the defeat of this poisonous ideology, and grasp the hopelessness of supporting it.

To achieve this goal requires us to be confident in our positions; certain of our own rightness; and forthright in our commitment to freedom and the defense of individual rights. Hiding the truth behind allegedly “prudent” language designed to obfuscate our intentions is of no use against an ideology with the directness of Islam. We cannot out-taqiyya the Islamic Totalitarians. We must state our end goal openly and clearly; we must identify the principled means of achieving it; and we must become people of integrity—people who act in accordance with their values and convictions. There is no substitute for integrity, and that means no substitute for victory.

There was a time when this was understood in America. In 1945, Americans knew that there was truly “no substitute for victory,” as General MacArthur said in his farewell speech to Congress. In 1945, Americans also knew the meaning of “victory.” It was not a mere word, empty of content. It named a specific task, and a precise goal. To say that our aim today is “to attain victory” can be as empty and futile as urging a college student to “do well,” or a businessman to “succeed.” What constitutes “doing well”? What is “success”? How will we know when we have achieved “victory”? The question is: What is it that we really need from the enemy?

History offers yet another example. The words proclaimed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which defined the terms of victory, and which he held intransigently for over two years, are “Unconditional Surrender.” Bringing long-term peace to the world, said FDR,

involves the simple formula of placing the objective of this war in terms of an unconditional surrender. . . . Unconditional surrender means not the destruction of the . . . Japanese populace, but does mean the destruction of a philosophy . . . which is based on the conquest and subjugation of other peoples.

In other words, continued FDR:

We have learned that if we do not pull the fangs of the predatory animals of the world, they will multiply and grow in strength . . . [they] must be disarmed and kept disarmed, and they must abandon the philosophy which has brought so much suffering to the world.14

The term “Unconditional Surrender” has been closely linked to Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, who demanded “no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender” from his southern foe at Fort Donelson, Kentucky. For this victory, Grant was heroized as “Unconditional Surrender” Grant. To Americans of the time, “U. S.” stood for Ulysses S. Grant, for the United States, and for Unconditional Surrender. Americans demanded nothing less than victory, and equated victory with their own identity as a nation.

This is what we must regain today: the sense of ourselves as right to drive victoriously over a viciously evil enemy. We must demand the unconditional surrender of the Islamic State in Iran—and of every other Islamic Totalitarian State on earth—to the legitimate laws of man, the laws that protect individual rights. Every Islamic cleric must renounce the goal of inciting his audience to jihad; he must proclaim, loudly and openly, his repudiation of Islamic law; he must state his intention to live under the laws of men in accordance with the requirements of man’s life on earth. Every Muslim intellectual must denounce the Islamic State as an aberration and a monstrosity, as being contrary to the requirements of life on earth. Immediate, personal destruction can be the only alternative.

If it is true that the majority of Middle Eastern people want a decent free life for themselves—as the vast majority of Japanese did after August, 1945—then they will rejoice over the excision of Totalitarian Islam from their midst. They will cheer for the freedom to make their own decisions about their own lives. They will react as the Japanese did—by embracing a constitutional government that renounces war, by purging state religion from the schools, by excising militarism from the media, and by building corporations rather than suicide cults. But if they do not, the unconditional surrender of Islamic Totalitarianism must be taken to mean its political defeat: There will be no negotiations over the place of Islam in government, for it has no such place.

Americans, and all lovers of civilization, must realize something: We can do this. This is not some Platonic ideal, good in theory but unattainable in practice. We Americans can—and must—re-establish our integrity by re-uniting our ideals and our actions. History is on our side here. In relative terms, the physical forces facing America and her allies in 1941 were far more formidable than those we face today, and America then was far weaker militarily. In our own day, the technological and industrial superiority of the U.S. over the Middle East is staggering. Islamic warriors can shoot an AK-47, but they cannot build one; all of the arms possessed by Islamic countries come from outside those countries. They are pathetically weak; the American army ended the regime of Saddam Hussein in three weeks, after Iran could not beat him in eight years. Our overwhelming material advantage, however, will be of no help if we lack the will to drop a bomb—or if we use our forces to strengthen our enemies. As it was for Germany and Japan in the 1930s, so it is today: The power of the Islamic Totalitarians grows every day that we wait. The strategic balance will shift—the Islamic Totalitarians will have the capacity as well as the will to bring about the nuclear Armageddon that they so deeply crave—if Iran acquires nuclear bombs. It is not a kindness to wait, knowing that our response will have to be even more lethal after a mushroom cloud rises over American soil. To wait, in light of that knowledge, is irrational—criminally irrational.

The need to understand the gravity of this situation—and our capacity to prevent a catastrophe—is particularly urgent at this moment in time. It is obvious that the defeat of the Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections was a repudiation of President Bush’s policies in this war. But it is more important to understand that President Bush has not mounted an offensive strategy, and that an offensive strategy is not the reason why American troops are dying in Iraq. There has been no drive to victory, only a string of casualties and the progressive discouragement of the American people. As a result, our primary enemy has been strengthened, and allowed to address the world as a leader just a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. (Imagine Hitler being granted this privilege.) Bush’s war strategy of non-war has resulted in a functional paralysis caused by our self-imposed failure to identify and confront open and avowed enemies.

What has been demonstrably repudiated by the actions of the Bush administration is not the first of the options I presented, but the second. What has been tried and has failed are the altruistic, pragmatic policies of an administration that is as desperate to appear tough as it is to avoid being tough. The Democrats—the party that won World War II by dropping two atomic bombs—have an opportunity to regain a position of moral stature before the American people. Should they not do so—should they choose to retreat—then their unwillingness to value the lives of American citizens over the lives of foreign enemies will be made clear, and the Democrats will be seen as no better, no more principled, no more courageous, and no more American than the Republicans.

Our military capacities are not in doubt today. It is our moral self-confidence that is in question. What was it that stopped us from confronting Iran in 1979, except a lack of confidence in our own rightness, and an unwillingness to defend ourselves for our own sakes? Had we removed the Iranian regime in 1979, thousands of Americans would have been saved, and children across the world would not have grown up with sword verses rising in their minds as they give their lives to jihad. Consider the Japanese—and ask whether it would have been in our interest to have left the regime of 1945 in power, to continue preaching religious militarism and training kamikaze. The best thing Americans did for themselves (and, incidentally, the kindest thing for the Japanese) was to burn that regime to the ground. So it is today. The Islamic State—Totalitarian Islam—must go. And it is the moral responsibility of every American to demand it.