Friday, January 21, 2005

The President's Inaugural Address

Many people on the Right, like Hugh Hewitt, seem to think this was hit out of the park. It had it's moments, certainly. But there are a few elements that greatly concern me.

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

The President comes so close to getting it. It's absolutely true that the third world "simmer[s] in resentment and tyranny." It's also true that ideology drives Islamic terror and gently pats on the head those who want us dead. But freedom alone cannot and will not stop what we see in the Middle East. Only the blood of Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit can "break the reign of hatred and resentment." Attributing it to the amorphous "freedom" is just silly. Freedom only removes some of the external restraints of government. Unless those external restraints are replaced with self-policing by individuals, freedom does more harm than good.

Of course, Bush admits this later in the speech, but then blows it again:

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.

President Bush does not seem able to let go of the hope that the Koran and Islam are equal to all other religions. It would be to the benefit of all Americans if the President would read Robert Spencer's book, Islam Unveiled. Spencer makes it plain that the Koran and Islam belong more to the problem set than the solution set. We cannot continue the foolish charade that casts Islam as a religion of peace. It is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of hatred, built on a tissue of lies. And lies can never be a foundation for effective and useful freedom.