I'm going to comment on James White's latest Dividing Line presentation:
It's basically a repetition of what he's said before. Let's start by cutting the dead wood:
i) I, for one, haven't accused him of going soft on Islam or having changed recently. That's neither here nor there as far as my own objections are concerned.
ii) For someone who accuses his critics of painting with a broad brush, it's ironic to see how all his nameless critics are lumped together.
iii) He repeats the allegation that his critics are hypocritical. But ironically, there's a contradiction running right down the middle of his argument:
On the one hand he says Islam is diverse. Not "monolithic". Therefore, you can't say who's a true Muslim and who's a nominal Muslim. You're not entitled to say Jihadists are true Muslims but moderate Muslims, Ahmadiyya, Sufi, &c. are nominal Muslims.
On the other hand, he says that just as we have a right to distinguish true Christianity and true Christians from heresies, cults, and nominal Christians, Muslims have a right to do the same thing. If we have a right to deny that Mormons and unitarians are true Christians, if we have a right to deny that Anders Behring and Breivik or Robert Dear are true Christians, then they have a right to deny that a jihadist who gets drunk and has sex with prostitutes is a true Muslim.
But he can't have it both ways. If he's going to draw a parallel between Christian orthodoxy/orthopraxy and Muslim counterparts, then that means there are boundaries between authentic Islam and nominal Islam.
If, on the other hand, Islam is so fuzzy that anyone who self-identifies as Muslim should be included, whether it's Sunni, Shiia, Ahmadiyya, Bahai, Islamic modernism, &c., then his comparison with Christianity falls apart. In that event, they're not analogous. In that event, his Christian critics aren't guilty of applying a double standard.
iv) BTW, why can't a true Muslim get drunk, sleep with callgirls, and go to paradise if he dies in jihad? Isn't that the point? To recast it in terms of Western theology, to die in jihad is a work of supererogatory merit that plenarily absolves you of guilt. You die in a state of grace. That's your ticket to paradise. The Muslim version of last rites or the baptism of martyrdom.
For that matter, why is prostitution contrary to Islamic ethics, but concubinage is not? What's the moral difference? What about pederasty?
v) If, moreover, you're not qualified to say what's genuinely Islamic unless you can read the Koran, sunnah, and Hadith in the original, then that disqualifies hundreds of millions of professing Muslims from being true Muslims, does it not? Most Muslims are very ignorant of their religious tradition. Most Muslims can't read classical Arabic.
White's elitist definition is at odds with his pluralistic definition of Islamic identity. If only Islamic scholars are true Muslims, then only a fraction of professing Muslims are true Muslims.
vi) Another issue is whether Islam has a core identity. White makes some interesting points about how the Koran is a compilation of traditional sayings, abstracted from their original setting, then edited together. It's the Hadith that supplies the chronology. If it weren't for that scaffolding, you couldn't make heads or tails of the Koran. When and where was it said? What abrogates what? One must sift contradictory sources of dubious historicity. He compares quoting the Koran out of context with quoting the Bible out of context.
These are valid issues. There is, however, another way of broaching the issue. Instead of a textual starting point, what about Biblical anthropology? If Muhammad was a false prophet, then he was a child of his times. Given our knowledge of fallen human nature, given ethnography, wouldn't we expect Muhammed to be a violent, promiscuous man? Isn't polygamy, concubinage, slavery, military conquest the predictable ethos of that time and place?
That doesn't depend on which subset of texts you use as your selective "filter." Rather, that's just what we'd anticipate the historical Muhammad to be like. That's what men are like without the restraint of Christian ethics and sanctifying grace.
Isn't Muhammad's pivotal function as a role-model a part of core Islamic identity? If so, it's antecedently unlikely that he was a hippie monogamous pacifist. Even if our sources of information about Muhammad are fairly unreliable, the sources are very consistent with the kind of man we'd expect him to be.
vii) Likewise, Muhammad isn't just another prophet, added to the OT and NT. Although Muslims pay lip-service to "former prophets" in the Bible, they don't get that directly from the Bible. Rather, that's filtered through the distorting lens of the Koran. In practice, Muhammad is their only prophet (Ahmadiyya and Bahai are exceptions)
viii) Finally, White bypassed all the security issues. Yet security issues are what's driving the debate. Briefly:
ix) I haven't said anything about foreign policy with respect to ISIS. I don't have any recommendations on how to defeat ISIS. In response to White, my focus in on domestic policy.
What is White's policy on Muslim immigration? What does he think is the duty of gov't in the respect? For instance, Michael Brown recently said:
1. The government should major on security; the church should major on compassion. I don’t mean that the government should be harsh or that the church should be foolish, but it is not the primary job of the government to care for the needs of refugees, and it is not the primary job of the church to provide national security. The government should do its very best to shut the doors on any potential terrorists, even if that means slowing down the process of absorbing refugees. We make decisions like this when, for example, there is an Ebola plague in West Africa. We want to be sure that we don’t unleash that plague on our shores even if the vast majority of West Africans are not infected. In the same way, we must assiduously work against the plague of radical Islam, even if the vast majority of Muslim refugees are not radicals. But there are plenty of refugees already registered with Christian relief agencies who are looking for sponsors, and that is where the church can lead the way, either opening up our homes (as many of us had the privilege of doing during the Boat People crisis in the late ’70s and early ’80s when Vietnamese refugees fled their country and were in dire need of help) or helping refugees get settled in our communities.
2. Priority should be given to Christian refugees. I personally do not believe that we should shut the door on all Muslim refugees from Syria, as long as we can accurately vet them, but I do believe that the church’s first priority should be resettling Christian refugees, and I say this for three main reasons. First, Christians in the Middle East are facing a genocide, with the populations of Christians in countries like Iraq and Syria going from the millions to the hundreds of thousands. They are being slaughtered and they are being barbarized, and it is sometimes the lucky ones who are fleeing for their lives. How can we ignore their plight? A friend of mine who pastors a large church in Tennessee traveled to Jordan and spoke with Christian refugees there. Their perception was that American Christians had completely abandoned them. Second, whereas Muslim refugees can be absorbed by Muslim countries in the Middle East (I’ll return to that point shortly), Christian refugees have less options, and they do not get any special priority in “Christian” Europe. Third, Paul wrote that “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). This does not mean that we neglect acts of kindness and mercy to Muslims in need, but it means that we do put our persecuted brothers and sisters first. - See more at: http://askdrbrown.org/portfolio/4-reflections-on-the-syrian-refugee-crisis/#respond
x) The logical solution is to cut off the supply (Muslim immigrants). Our immigration policy creates the problem.
Does White think there's a general right to immigrate to the US? Does White think Muslims have a right to immigrate to the US? What about visas?
What's the net benefit of Muslim immigration? Do the benefits, if any, offset the cost? For instance:
Under current trends, the United States will admit about 1 million new Muslim-origin immigrants over the next decade, plus hundreds of thousands of Muslim guest workers and foreign students. In addition, something like 50,000 young people from Muslim immigrant families turn 18 in the United States each year.
But large Muslim populations, continually refreshed by ongoing mass immigration, are a problem. Polling suggests between a quarter and a third are not attached to the principles of the Constitution, supporting things such as sharia law over U.S. law and the use of violence against those who insult Islam. Nor is this merely hypothetical; Muslims account for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population but account for about half of terrorist attacks since 9/11. That means Muslims in the United States are about 5,000 percent more likely to commit terrorist attacks than non-Muslims.
Large-scale immigration of non-violent Islamic supremacists also facilitates violence, by forming and sustaining neighborhoods that serve as cover and incubators for jihad attacks, however unintentionally. Muslim immigrant neighborhoods, and their mosques and other institutions, fit Mao’s observation regarding the peasantry’s role in China’s war against the Japanese: “The people are like water and the army is like fish.” DHS’s chief intelligence officer told the House Select Committee on Intelligence in 2007, “As previous attacks indicate, overseas extremists do not operate in a vacuum and are often linked with criminal and smuggling networks — usually connected with resident populations [in the U.S.] from their countries of origin (emphasis added).”
The Somali community in Minneapolis is a prime example. Established through refugee resettlement, and continually expanded and refreshed by more resettlement (nearly 9,000 Somali refugees were admitted last year) as well as follow-on chain migration, it has been the source of dozens of recruits for Al Shabaab and ISIS, and dozens more supporters, even though most community members aren’t necessarily terrorists or even fellow-travelers. Just this summer, a Somali graduate of a Minnesota high school died fighting for ISIS in Syria. As the Washington Times noted, immigration “is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.” Continuing to admit 1 million Muslim immigrants per decade will translate into more attacks. We need to cut Muslim immigration. And many of those recruits are native-born, having grown up steeped in Islamic supremacism and alienated from the values of their native land. In Europe this has been the main threat; and here, the killers at Fort Hood and Chattanooga and Jihad Dad in San Bernardino were U.S.-born. It is often claimed that the United States is uniquely effective at assimilating the children of immigrants from the Islamic world. But these incidents suggest skepticism. While our Muslim population is indeed more prosperous, more dispersed, and more ethnically heterogeneous than Europe’s, it seems likely that the main difference is simply that it’s so much smaller. The EU has four or five times more Muslim residents than the United States; France and Germany each have at least 50 percent more Muslims than our country (roughly 4.5 million each versus 3 million here).
Even with our smaller Muslim population, we have trouble keeping track. The FBI is reported to have nearly 1,000 active probes into ISIS supporters in the United States. Of those, 48 suspects are under intensive, 24/7 surveillance, straining the agency’s capacity. Senator Dan Coats, on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said just those 48 represented “a big resource drain. . . . Almost overwhelming.” If we continue current immigration policies, we can get rid of the “almost” — in France, due to the numbers, “The services are overwhelmed,” according to one terrorism expert. There’s really no way around it: Continuing to admit 1 million Muslim immigrants per decade will translate into more attacks.
Keep in mind that for every legal Muslim immigrant, that means one non-Muslim applicant didn't make the cut. Why choose Muslim immigrants over non-Muslim immigrants?
xi) Then there's the question of what should be done about Muslims who are already here.
We wouldn't have this problem in the first place were it not for our immigration policy. By allowing Muslims into the country as immigrants, "refugees," and students, our gov't has created an unnecessary dilemma, where we have no good options. It comes down to a choice between bad or worse options. That's what happens when the best option is taken off the table.
In principle, that would address the problem at the source. To the extent, however, that many Muslims here are already citizens, they can't be summarily deported. They now enjoy our Constitutional rights.
Mind you, citizenship isn't absolute. Treasonous citizens can be stripped of their citizenship. But that's cumbersome to adjudicate.
ii) Monitor Muslims
At least officially, our gov't refuses to do that because that would be "racially profiling."
Now, I don't think it's a great idea to surveil citizens or places of worship. Of course, most houses of worship aren't a front for terrorists. The threat doesn't come from churches, synagogues, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, or Zoroastrian temples.
iii) Dragnet surveillance
Increasingly, that's the preferred option of the political class. If demographic profiling is "racist," then the alternative is to surveil everyone. And that, of course, is a prescription for a totalitarian police state.
iv) Turn a blind eye
Do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks from the usual suspects. Brace yourself. Wait for the inevitable, because domestic policy made that inevitable. A self-fulfilling oracle of doom.
White has objected that if our gov't can discriminate against Muslims, then it can and will discriminate against Christians. Actually, it's the other way around. Our gov't already discriminates against Christians. Due to political correctness, it goes out of its way to ignore Muslims to prove how enlightened it is.