News From Terre Haute, Indiana


August 18, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Aug. 18, 2013


Do we really understand threat of radical Islam?

On July 7, Dr. Abhyankar wrote:

“For hate is not conquered by hate: hate is conquered by love.

“This teaching of the Buddha stands in sharp contrast to the need to resist evil with force. … Each person must choose for himself between these two contradictory courses of action.”

Is not the message of Jesus to turn the other cheek, “to do good to those that despitefully use you”?

OK, but what if the other guy means to tear your head off? Or cut it off, as jihadists prefer?

Cannot the refusal to resist evil allow evil to prevail?

Is not hatred toward evil an assertion of love for justice?

Should not the dilemma of violence or non-violence depend on the context of a crisis?

Let us turn to the 20/20 hindsight of history.

In 1923 the head of the National Socialist Workers Party, Adolf Hitler, attempted a coup in Munich that failed. In jail he wrote, “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”), laying out his plan to revitalize a defeated Germany after WW I. A mere 10 years later, in 1933, as a result of his charismatic oratory and political treachery, he became the furher, or leader of Germany, and the Nazi party dictatorship supplanted the democratic Weimar Republic.

Central to Hitler’s reign from 1933 to Germany’s defeat in WW II in 1945 was a Pan-German expansionism, anti-Semitism, a doctrine of Aryan superiority and racism, the aggressive conquest of Europe, and plans to conquer the Soviet Union, defeat the allied forces of America and Britain, and lay the groundwork for a German empire that would outlast the greatest empires of history.

His rise to power, galvanizing a prostrate country, amid a depression and mass unemployment, into the greatest military power on earth, conquering most of Europe, North Africa and almost the Soviet Union, in a few short years, might well be seen as the work of a genius, albeit an evil one. Much of it due to his fiery and hypnotic rhetoric.

“Pride goeth before a fall,” writes John Milton in his great epic poem, “Paradise Lost.” “By that sin Satan fell.” But before Hitler’s fall, much of Europe and the Soviet Union lay in ruins and over 50 million were dead, including six million Jews in the Holocaust and  five million others Hitler saw as inferiors or enemies: Slavs, Gypsies, Christian opponents, communists, gays, “mental defectives,” political dissidents, etc.

We also see in Osama bin Laden a grandiose vision, that of a global empire, a New Caliphate that would restore the Ottoman Empire (1453-1683) that reached its apogee under Suleiman in the 16th century. But unlike Hitler’s vision built on the myth of a superior Aryan or Nordic master race, bin Laden’s charismatic power, at least among the extremists, rested on religious fanaticism he felt in accord with the will of Allah, the holy book of Islam and its Prophet.

A few, like Winston Churchill, realized what Hitler was all about after reading “Mein Kampf.” His dire warnings fell on deaf ears.

The non-violence against Britain by Gandhi in India and the non-violence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in America may have worked, but the 1939 peace treaty that U.K.’s Prime Minister Chamberlain signed with Nazi Germany reeked more of cowardice than the courage of moral force since it allowed evil to prevail for six years of a war that left an enormity of death and devastation in its wake.

One wonders if we have learned from that darkest chapter of human history when Western civilization was close to extinction. In spite of 9/11, a thousand other acts of jihad worldwide, scores of books, documentaries and countless articles in magazines, newspapers and online that sound an alarm, are we even now fully conscious of the immensity of danger posed by radical Islam? Once fully funded and armed with WMDs from rogue or enemy states, their potential for conquest and destruction could rival or even surpass that of Hitler’s empire.

Will the world once again heed too late Santayana’s caveat about the grim lessons of history we failed to learn?

If so, the Muslims of the world who despise the usurpation and menace of theocratic jihad will suffer no less than the non-Muslims of the world.

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute

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