Ronan Mullen on Islam

I really don’t know what to make of Ronan Mullen’s remarks today. Has anyone any thoughts on this?

We have grounds for humility. It took Western Christianity centuries to arrive at the insight that human dignity called for freedom of religion, equal opportunities between the sexes and so on. But Islam’s problem is that it’s not there yet. It does not have the centralisation of religious authority which can both unify people around a coherent set of values and prevent the emergence of extremes. That is a real problem which cannot be explained by American preoccupation with oil, Israeli oppression of the Palestinians or the invasion of Iraq.

I really am stumped. Where do I start?

It sounds like what he is really getting at is Islam – not to mention fundamentalist Islam – is an inferior religion to Christianity. He also seems to suggest there there are not as many extremes in Christianity. Does this strike anyone as just a little ethnocentric?

To follow logically what he is saying –

Christianity (the West) is centuries ahead of Islam (Near East, Middle East) on the human rights front. Islam needs to be more like Christianity, because Christianity is centuries ahead of it. The centralisation of power in Christianity unifies people (surely he means Catholicism, unless he means the Great Schism, Reformation, Counter-Reformation), and prevents the emergence of extremism (can you count the number of extreme Christian movements?).

What this does reek of is cultural and religious superiority. And given Mullen’s track record it is not Christianity he refers to, it is that special flavour (or extreme, depending on your view) called ‘Catholicism’.

18 thoughts on “Ronan Mullen on Islam”

  1. There are seven brands of Christianity on offer every Sunday within walking distance of my house. I hate to think how many there are in the world. Some central authority! I would also submit that the fastest growing religion near my house is “I don’t have a religion”

    Islam has at least six different versions and very few of those are likely to be found in the same town.

    The article by Mullen is truly an excercise in feeble thinking

  2. Everything this chump writes is rubber-stamped by his former employer. So from this article we see that Catholic Church’s lapdog views Islam like some explorer views the savages.

    But then this is the guy who argued against gay marriage and quoted statistics from a family research group to back up his claims while neglecting to mention the group is bankrolled by the Catholic University in Washington.

    It’d be nice if he wrote something that came from his own mind and it wasn’t so obvious what his agenda was. This is no fun. 🙂

  3. Centralizaton of religious authority? Hilarious. I’m reminded of a certain Sex & the City, in which Ms Carrie Bradshaw compares the Catholic Church to a desperate, single, 35 year-old woman who will take anything she can get.

    Although I reckon Mr Mullen does have a point. I suppose someone like, say, an American president, has the ability to control and mobilize the Bible Belt – so that’s something to be proud of, right? Does controlling the American media count as preventing the emergence of extreme groups?

  4. still thought i think it points out an interesting point i read some time. about liberals and conservatives and the difference between them.

    The Left believes that criticism of Christianity is important and that criticism of Islam is bigoted. The Right believes that criticism of Islam is important and that most criticism of Christianity is bigoted.

  5. Ronan Mullen’s article is another example of the unconscious racism and ignorance of much of the western media analysis as regards to Islam. He’s framing his analysis of the situation within his own limited experience and worldview.

    This interview with Robert Pape goes a long way to debunk the theory that Islamic fundamentalism is to blame.

  6. As far as I’m concerned Robert Pape may debunk one theory, but he does his best to prop up another false-hood: that Palestinian suice bombers are only after an Israeli withdrawal. They’re after all of Israel. They’re pledged to destroy the ‘Zionist State’, not to seek an accommodation with it.

    He also deliberately (I’m sure) mixes Iran, which is Shi’a with al Qaeda, which is Sunni.

    I’ll take a pass on giving Mr. Pape too much credit for anything, thanks.

  7. John,

    I cannot see where in the article Pape is doing his best to say that the Palestinians are seeking an accommodation with the Israelis. His core point is that the suicide bombings are motivated by nationalism rather than Islamic fundamentalism. I don’t think that is inconsistent with your observation that the Palestinian suicide bombers wish to destroy the Israeli state.

    As for Al-Qaeda, I didn’t think Al Qaeda were Sunni or Shia. They are close to being Salafist in their beliefs but as far as I know they don’t belong to any particular sect.

  8. Mark,

    It was this paragraph to whic I was referring:

    The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

    When I saw ‘West Bank’ and ‘withdraw’ I read that to mean that he believed that the Palestinian suicide bombers wanted to see Israel withdraw from the W. Bank and that was it.

  9. John,

    I’m no expert either. I suppose the fact that the majority of Muslims are Sunni would make it more likely that Al Qaeda members are Sunni. I don’t know if it is a prerequisite though. I think there is a minority Sunni population in Iran (maybe 10%?).

    Reading back on the article I was guessing that was the paragraph that you were refering to and I suppose it could be interpreted as you say given the other territories that he lists. But I think it’s a bit of a leap to conclude from this paragraph that he is doing his best to portray the Palestinians as merely seeking an accommodation with Israel over the West Bank.

    And as I said above it does not weaken his core point. (I would be interested in reading something that does or indeed anything more on the subject).

  10. Mark,

    Look, I’m not a Pat Buchanan hater, but there are times when he, and particularly his magazine (American Conservative), plays it fairly loose with Israel and what’s going on in the Middle East. If I over-read what Mr. Pape’s intended here, I’m sorry about that.

    I accept there’s an argument that it may not be in America’s interest to be so closely allied with Israel as the Buchananites would say, but I don’t accept that there isn’t a deep-seated hatred for Israel’s existence among the Palestinians and the wider Arab world. This hatred expresses itself in the fanatical suicide attacks against Israel. These attacks are not about ending “the occupation”, but obliterating Israel. I thought Mr. Pape was purposely soft-pedaling that reality when I read the interview.

  11. The al Qaeda core are Wahhabi radicals, Sunnis who believe Allah’s original message has been tainted over the centuries, and who believe non-Sunni Muslims, Christians and Jews to be apostate.

    I think some of you missed the point. The mainstream christian churches have a hierarchy, the Islamic faiths do not. Therefore when a mad mullah radicalises young men to blow themselves apart killing Crusaders etc. there is no authority to contradict him. That is a problem, that is why we don’t hear authoritative muslim condemnation of acts carried out in the name of Allah

  12. Getting back to Gavin’s original observation, if you want to compare Islam with Christianity against a prism of humanity there is no contest.

    Jesus Christ urged his followers to love their neighbours and not to kill or harm them. His own life and example were singularly virtuous. Why he never killed anyone nor even raped, pillaged or enslaved.

    Contrast him with the Prophet, who did and advocated all these crimes, and you’ll soon conclude that Islam is very much an inferior religion.

    The Prophet’s strictures as laid down in the Kuran ooze with murder, mayhem and hatred to be directed against infidels and insufficiently ardent Muslims. The most evil injunction is probably “slay them [ie non Muslims] wherever ye catch themâ€? (2:191), which appears several times.

    There are of course millions of bad-behaving human beings who are Christians and millions of good-behaving humans who are Muslims, but this is a reflection on the individuals not their religions. Moreover, in both cases they seem to be acting in contravention, not in accordance with, their respective religions.

    If Islam is truly a “religion of peaceâ€? it’s about time its Mullahs started explaining, and non-Muslims started asking, why the worst excesses of the Kuran mean precisely the opposite of what they appear (in English translation) to say.

    My latest blog discusses this issue (www.tallrite.com/blog#SlayThemWhereverYeCatchThem

  13. Gav,
    I have to disagree with you.
    It looks like you haven’t read the rest of the article at all.
    I don’t know who this Ronan bloke is, but the piece seems pretty reasonable and balanced to me.
    If I pick on the last paragraph (as you did), he seems to have a point.
    Islam is not built on the same, centuries-old bureaucratic structure that has guided countless millions of christians throughout the centuries, i.e. priest-bishop-cardinal-pope, the whole pyramid system of the catholic church (lower case intended as a show of disrespect)
    The Karan is each individual muslim’s guide through his/her religious life and is therefore open to an almost infinite amount of interpretations by each individual.
    Extremists are bound to evolve from this structureless form, and the stonger extremists spread their ‘gospel’ to the weaker, impressionable muslims.
    Read through the article with an open mind, he is actually suggesting the opposite of what you are saying
    Sorry Gav, you’re wrong but always right!
    Kevin, your cuz

  14. Cuz Kevin says, “The Karan is each individual muslim’s guide through his/her religious life and is therefore open to an almost infinite amount of interpretations by each individual.

    Tell me, Cuz Kevin, how many ways do you think you can you interpret “slay them [ie non Muslims] wherever ye catch them� (2:191)?!

    Moreover, the one thing individual Muslims are not allowed to do is to make their own interpretation of the Karan. To do so is regarded as close to apostasy. But it is exacly what the brave Irshad Manji says is required to allow Islam to experience its own Renaissance. No wonder they want to kill her.

    T o n y

  15. With all the gravity I can muster let me please state God’s facts.

    First and foremost, there is only one God and His name is Jehovah. If the word Alah is an Arab translation of Jehovah then we are talking about the same god. But, there is only one.

    Secondly, everything that the King James Version of the Holy Scripture is absolutely and entirely true. Questions regarding specific biblical laws, morals, and behavior are laid out. Obviously murder and cowardly killings is not tolerated without punishment and correction. If the Bible says that homesexuality is wrong, then it is wrong.

    God (Jehovah’s) law is just and he is full of mercy.

    The United States of America was founded upon Christian principles and beliefs. We shall stay that way. We are Americans…still.

    We will not allow or by any means allow any people, religions, or otherwise groups of people to come in and take our hedges down. We are watching. Even though our President may have made some mistakes in terms of how to deal with hate minded muslims that hate our very existence, the solid backbone American is still here. We are ready to absolutely correct this situation and take back this reins of power.

    Finally, no President or religion will correct this problem. We find ourselves being eaten by our very own civil rights. Certainly, we are a free country however our continuing to turn a blind eye to the real problem will be corrected shortly. We must face the problem boldly. Abrahams errors can’t be our own. We must prevent the extreme muslim or whatever name you want to call it scurge from further entering our country by excercising further limits on immigration. Yes, we must and we will. We will extradite all the appropriate people from our lands. We will protect our land from the scurge of hateful people that commit hate crimes against the Jews and Christians. Then, you will not be able to sneak up behind us and kill us anymore.

    Good day,
    Be sure to check back again!

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