How Free Speech Prevents a Mindless War of Bullets and Bombs

At parties, I often end up talking politics with my friends. (Ideologically my politics is nearest to Libertarians, but I have consistently voted Republican.) On the one hand, I am glad that, even without Trump (and at times, especially if we ignore Trump), the contrast between Democrats and Republicans cannot be as clear now as it has ever been in the past. On the other hand, even though there is indeed an ideological war in America, that war is being fought in op-eds and blog posts like this one, and also in dinner conversations all over the land. This war of words can sometimes escalate into fist fights, but never with bullets and bombs.

I am happy to fight in this war. Words are cheap, and honest minds can be convinced. The US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and whether it is in this blog or in conversations at parties, I am confident that bullets won’t be flying because of anything I’ve said or written. We fight this war on the intellectual plane, not by the count and power of arms. I could lose a battle by lacking facts to bolster my position in some intellectual issue, but I expect to be alive the following day.

In contrast, let’s imagine how this kind of situation could play in a Sharia system. First, let’s admit it: there is no freedom of speech in Sharia.

I have a friend who has traveled to the Middle East and made friends with Muslims there. (I don’t remember which particular country, and I don’t think it’s important in this story.) He met and made friends with a family whose members consist of two beautiful sisters and several brothers. On the surface, the two sisters were devout Muslims, but did not wear headscarves whenever they were allowed not to. It was only after befriending one of the sisters that my friend came to know that she was not really a Muslim anymore, and that she studied the Bible on her own. She kept that Bible in a place where only she knew; and to be able to read it, she had to change its cover to look like it’s a sacred copy of the Koran.

My friend discovered much later that the other sister was also a convert. He was told by both not to tell anybody, so it took him still another while to finally decide to let each sister know. It was a big relief for both of them, and now that they knew, each had become a tremendous source of invaluable support to the other. However, the tears of joy they had shed could still become tears of sorrow if and when either one of them were exposed. They vowed never to expose one another, if either one of them were caught.

Islamic Ideology does not recognize the value of free speech; it follows that the only way it can spread itself is by violent coercion. Once you see this, then you are on the side of Republicans in the issue of how to fight radical Muslims.

I suppose Islam as an ideology worked and dominated the known world thousands of years ago, because information was easier to suppress then. Now, with the Internet and smart phones, it is not so easy. Any Muslim with a modicum of intelligence can discover data that contradicted Islam. I am not saying that it is easy to defeat Islamic ideology. I understand that it would take several generations to know which side would have won.

The story about the two sisters illustrate how difficult it is to defeat Islamist radicals. By being secret converts, the two sisters risk not only their positions as family members, they are also risking their lives. They cannot possibly communicate with other people of the same mind, without further risking their lives. The best that one can hope for is that Muslims with above average intelligence can continue to be curious and questioning.

I am also not saying that radical Muslims are all stupid. To be sure, there are brilliant strategists among their leaders. They can still win, but only if we (on the this side of the ideological divide) allow it. This is where the raging intellectual war between Democrats and Republicans is crucial. The result of this non-violent war will be revealed in ballot boxes this November; and that result could determine whether we allow the Muslim radicals to win or not.

Arab self-doubt: the thinking Arab, observing the world around him, is starting to see the writing on the wall.

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About ctapang

I am a Software Design Engineer. I have just abandoned the huge army organized to make .Net programming the one dominant programming system. I now program in Typescript which (surprise) is also from Microsoft. Aside from my day job as a programmer, I am also involved in a movement (http://correctphilippines.org) to correct the Philippine constitution. It's an ambitious undertaking in itself, and there's no guarantee that improving our constitution will improve things. However, one thing is certain: if we don't establish a rational constitution, we will continue on our path of self-destruction. What kind of government is best? For me the best government is that which governs the least. We need the government not because it can provide for us but because it keeps us from running into each other. The proper function of government is that of a traffic light: it prevents us from bumping each other, but it does not tell us where to go.
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