Smith's Defense of Western Civilization
By David Henderson
I’m glad that co-author Bryan Caplan called attention to the excellent essay by Nathan Smith. Otherwise I might not have known about it. Bryan highlighted some great sections. I want to highlight one other section. It’s about the nicest modern defense of Western civilization that I’ve seen in a couple of decades. Here it is:
The free governments of the West ought to communicate to the Muslims of the world the following message:
“You are welcome to come and live among us, and in return for moderate taxes and obedience to our laws, we’ll protect your rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as religious freedom, insofar as practicing your religion doesn’t require you to violate the rights of others. But the rights of others include some things you’re not accustomed to, such as the right to proselytize other faiths, to apostatize from Islam, to condemn Muhammad as a false prophet, and to insult all that you regard as holy. You may build mosques at will, and attend them, and fast during Ramadan, and try to persuade others, peacefully, to do so with you, but you must utterly and forever repudiate the evil practice, which has stained your faith with murder and shame from the beginning, of killing apostates from Islam. If this despicable and barbarous doctrine is taught among you, you will be imprisoned for incitement of violence. Similarly, while you are free not to depict Muhammad yourselves, you must henceforth understand this as a law binding on you only, and in conscience, not as a law that binds non-Muslims, or that can be enforced against anyone, Muslim or not, by violence. We do not care how incompatible these demands are with your faith as it has been practiced for a thousand years. We are more powerful than you, and we insist that, while you live among us, you submit to the principles of a free society. Any effort to subvert those principles will be ruthlessly crushed. Your religion must henceforth become something out [it?] has never hitherto been, an affair of private worship and peaceful speech, destitute of temporal power, as our own Christian churches willingly are. Even as you venerate the conquering Muhammad, you must make your religion emulate that of Jesus, Who taught that His kingdom is not of this world, and told His disciples meekly to accept the rule of earthly masters, while awaiting their rewards in heaven.”
The only change I would make is to the sentence “Any effort to subvert those principles will be ruthlessly crushed.” I think we should allow and, although I don’t know Nathan, I have read him enough to think that he would allow, Muslims to “subvert” those principles by speaking out against them. Indeed the rest of the quote seems to support my interpretation. But they should not be allowed to use force or, as in the case of the Mark Steyn incident he discusses that occurred in my native Canada, threaten force.