Dear Jonathan Kay,
You wrote that an adult conversation about Islam is nearly impossible. You have my sympathy. You do a good job of trying to allow that conversation in your paper, but the reasons for the difficulty derive from the fact that a full discussion of Islam requires a discussion of what the religion prescribes that its followers should do. In the name of God they are compelled, if they wish to be orthodox, to wage war, enslave, distrust, and display contempt for all beings not Muslims, and express disgust for women. So it is difficult to have an adult conversation when you cannot say what Islamic doctrine is, in current liberal society.
An adult conversation about Islam is difficult because most people are finding a wide gap between what they perceive, and what they are allowed to say.
If I ran around in a black uniform with a Nazi armband shouting abuse at Jews, most observers would conclude there was an obvious link between my anti-Jewishness and my being a Nazi. (We fought and won a world war to say so).
But if I do the same as a Muslim, in the current environment, cursing the Jews and calling for their extermination as my holy duty, many people would feel cowed into not saying there was a link. The recent case of Ben Affleck going postal on television shows the depth and strength of the denial.
The same forces of anti-racism that we have been fostering since WW2 prevent accurate conclusions regarding the relationship of Islam and jihadist violence from being drawn, and if drawn, from being freely discussed.
For a Muslim, jihad is a sacrament. If Muslims behave reasonably and peacefully, as they do (thank God), it is not because they are orthodox but because they have fallen away from orthodoxy. Islam is a direct revelation from God, and it is immutable. So as the discussion of Islam’s doctrines is shoved underground, the public view of Islam gets darker and darker, while the chattering classes re-assure each other of their baseless confidence that Islam is not what they fear it is, a bananarama totalitarian ideology, whose idea of God is of an immeasurably distant, irrational force, where both theology and science is impossible.
Why impossible, you ask?
Because for there to be theology, God must be rationally knowable in some important senses, and for there to be science, there must be a belief that the universe is a rationally discoverable emanation of God’s laws.
Neither of these conditions is met in Islam.
In Islam the whole universe is sustained instant to instant by God’s will alone. Causal relationships between match and flame need not be looked into, because the match is only the occasion for the flame, not the cause. Looking into the operations of God’s will is haram. I recommend The Closing of the Muslim Mind for further information on the baneful effects of Islam’s greatest philosopher, Al-Ghazali.
All of these facts are available on reading about the issue. However, few do so, and those who do are silenced by the general prohibition on discussing Islam as if its doctrines were real and intended. Religion has been tamed in the post-Christian west. In Islam, it is everything, and its teachings are horrifying to those who contemplate them, and more so to those who suffer persecution and death because of its adherents.
We are not responsible for Islam’s doctrines. We are, however, responsible for the poor state of thought and speech in the West today. We have only ourselves (or the forces of political Leftism) to blame for this gap between what is being observed, and what can be discussed.