Peace-Lovers are Irrelevant...
The video produced the usual range of people praising her forthrightness and dismissal of political correctness... And it chimed well with some of the negative things that were said here recently about Islam... But there was little in it that I hadn't heard before... Dressing up general prejudice in righteous indignation. And to be fair, if Ms. Gabriel's life story as a Lebanese Maronite Christian is to be believed, she has good reason to be, at very least, wary of Muslims, given the history of animosity and atrocity in her homeland (though there may be some debate about whether that was entirely one-sided).
But she did make a very challenging point, suggesting that in the face of Islamic fundamentalism, the majority of peaceful or peace-loving Muslims are irrelevant... In exactly the same way that the majority of peace-loving Germans were irrelevant in the face of the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s... or the majority of peace-loving Russians were irrelevant in the face of Stalinist purges... or the majority of peace-loving Japanese were irrelevant in the face of the Japanese military excesses in the Second World War... etc
The clear conclusion she was wanting people to draw from this is that the only way to fight fire is with fire... that you have to hit Muslim fundamentalists hard... and if a few "innocent" peace-loving Muslims get caught in the crossfire, either literally or metaphorically then that too is irrelevant. A clear articulation of the myth of redemptive violence beloved of her adoptive home of America... How the west was won! Peace won at the barrel of a gun.
The thing is that on the basis of Jesus' teaching I believe that her initial analysis is correct but her conclusion is totally and utterly wrong... Because the issue is not about how we deal with the minority of war-mongers in the midst of a majority of peace-lovers... But how we turn peace-lovers into peace-makers...
To continue a theme of recent days, Jesus says
"Happy (or blessed) are the peace-makers for they will be called the children of God."
Matthew 5: 9
Peace-makers NOT peace-lovers.
Peace-lovers ARE irrelevant. Peace lovers tend to seek peace and quiet... anything for a quiet life... Leaving the ground clear for the hate and war-mongers to have a field day. Peace-makers put themselves in danger for the sake of peace... real peace, peace with justice rather than just peace and quiet. Peace-makers ask difficult questions, of their own community as well as of others. Peace-makers are prepared to stand up for others rights and wellbeing, and physically stand with them in the face of intimidation and insults... Peace-makers will challenge those in authority to represent ALL citizens and not just those who elected them. Peace-makers will get involved in the democratic process rather than not vote and just moan about the eejits that get in...
The oft quoted statement of Edmund Burke that "all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men (and women) to do nothing" comes to mind (even though I can find as few sources for that quote as yesterday's "quote" from Chesterton)...
Or indeed Martin Niemoller's famous commentary on Germany's complicity in the Nazi atrocities:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I always find it interesting that he omitted the homosexuals, the gypsies and the handicapped from his list of those he did not speak out over... We can all omit others from our list of those we need to be concerned for... Perhaps with us it is Muslims, or working class Loyalists, or some other group that we can broadly dismiss as being irredeemable as a class... That any within that categorisation who do not speak out are irrelevant... And should be treated as such...
Not so... the key thing is to start to mobilise the "silent" majority to become peace-makers and not just peace-lovers, to face down the minority who want to spread hatred, division and violence... including people like Ms. Gabriel.