I seldom respond in this column to what other commentators write. In fact, truth be told, I seldom read other columnists. But, occasionally, I see something that cries out for response.
Such is the case of a New York Times column called “The real war,” by Thomas L. Friedman.
It’s worth a response for several reasons: Like it or not, the New York Times still has influence – at least in Washington, where, like it or not, public policy decisions for this great country are still made. What Friedman writes is so dangerous and so wrong-headed that someone with common sense needs to take it on. And, lastly, the New York Times will never allow anyone equal space to answer Friedman.
Friedman begins his column by explaining that the war we are fighting is not really against “terrorism” but an ideology – a point I have made repeatedly here since Sept. 11. But just as quickly as he states the obvious, he goes astray – wildly astray.
The ideology we are fighting, according to Friedman, is not Islamism; instead it is “religious totalitarianism.”
What is “religious totalitarianism”?
It is, Friedman writes, “a view of the world that my faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated.”
He continues by explaining that the opposite of religious totalitarianism is pluralism. America, he and those he quotes, say America is the Mecca of that ideology – and that is why Osama bin Laden hates us so.
Of course, Friedman is dead wrong.
The ideology Friedman calls “pluralism” is actually a religious view more accurately called “secular humanism.” It doesn’t, as he suggests, “embrace religious diversity,” but instead attempts to impose its own religious ideology on the world in the name of “pluralism.”
It is every bit as intolerant as bin Ladenism. Humanism does tend to embrace religious diversity unless it comes in the form of biblical Christianity or biblical Judaism. This “pluralism” Friedman and the New York Times worship is one of the reasons America was blindsided Sept. 11. It couldn’t see the threat coming despite repeated warnings, despite declarations of holy war by bin Laden and others. This “pluralism,” of which Friedman writes, will be the death of America – faster, swifter and more sure than anything bin Laden could ever deliver.
That’s not to say it isn’t great that America protects the right of every citizen to worship as he or she sees fit. That is true pluralism, not the official religion Friedman would impose on Americans. The true pluralism is a hand-me-down from American history. We are a nation founded by people seeking freedom of worship. They were fleeing state churches in Europe. They were true Christians following the Bible, not the “religious totalitarianism” of the state churches. That legacy provided the freedoms we have enjoyed for more than 200 years in this country.
Whether he realizes it or not, what Friedman actually did in his essay is declare war on Christianity – including the very biblical Christianity responsible for the true pluralistic society America established under the authorship of the founders. More specifically, he declared his own humanistic jihad on Jesus Christ Himself.
By Friedman’s definition, Christ would have to be characterized as a “religious totalitarian,” because it was Christ who said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus didn’t say there were other ways to heaven – just one.
Friedman is also indicting Orthodox Judaism – and, this time, he does know it. He refers condescendingly to “fundamentalist Jews” who use their schools “to preach exclusivist religious visions.” How dreadful! You see, for Friedman, the war we are fighting is not against terrorism, nor is it against Islamism. It is, rather, against all religious dogma that preaches an “exclusivist vision” – which is, of course, all of the major monotheistic faiths and a few others for good measure.
What he doesn’t see so clearly, of course, is that his own phony pluralism is, in effect, as totalitarian, as exclusivist and as dangerous as bin Ladenism.
It is, after all, the same humanist ideology responsible for the biggest holocausts of the 20th century – those brought on by the atheistic totalitarian regimes in the Soviet Union, China and Nazi Germany.
I know that’s not what Friedman has in mind when he talks about his phony “pluralism” based on nothing but good vibes. But that’s where it leads – inevitably, inexorably, inescapably.