In today’s Telegraph Charles Moore has an article entitled “A Society that Persecutes Christ is heading for terrible trouble.” It is hard to imagine a thought more banal, but the article that follows measures up pretty well. First of all, it is impossible to persecute Christ. The man believed, by Christians, to have been the Christ, or Jewish Messiah, is dead, killed by the Romans, if the story be true, nearly 2000 years ago, and while he has many followers today, they are persecuted, in the main, only where Islam rules, so Moore’s quote from Ibn Khaldun, which he pairs with one from Margaret Thatcher, is more than a bit at odds with his title.
However, let’s take the quotes to start with. First, Margaret Thatcher:
Not for 2,000 years has it been possible for society to exclude or eliminate Christ from its social or political life without a terrible social or political consequence.
This is, Moore says, the opening sentence of Thatcher’s book Christianity and Conservatism, which I have not had the misfortune to read. The second quotation comes from Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Muslim historian and philosopher of history:
Religion taught by a prophet or by a preacher of the truth is the only foundation on which to build a great and powerful empire.
– a thought which is immediately contadicted by many great empires and civilisations, not least the Roman Empire, which does not find its foundation in a prophet or preacher of the truth, supposing that any prophet or preacher has done so, but at least partly in a syncretistic willingness to assimilate conquered gods into its pantheon. But nevertheless it is well to take note of this quotation from Ibn Khaldun, since it affirms what so many people seem at pains to conceal, that Islam was an imperial power, imposing its culture and thought, however puerile and violent, on many a people whose culures, religions, and identities were systematically destroyed by Muslim violence and colonisation. This is a continuing trend, demonstrated by the few Western idiots who have joined the ranks of Islamic imperialists – whose empire and civilisation shone largely with the borrowed light of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and others, and continually regressed to the state of Arabian brigandage, violence and oppression — by giving themselves Arabic names, and bowing submissively towards Mecca and Arabia five times a day.
And while Moore is rhapsodising about the sage of Tunis, it is relevant to point out that the latest news out of Tunis, announces the conviction, in absentia (at least of one of the men), of two men, for blasphemy, for drawing caricatures of the prophet:
They were sentenced, one of them in absentia, to seven years in prison, for transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order.
Doubtless heeding Ibn Khaldun’s declaration that great empires are built only on the foundation of a prophet or preacher of the truth. So much for the Tunisian revolution, and all the acts of civil resistance to autocratic rule, fired, it seems, by the passionate self-immolation of a street vendor — whose sacrificial smoke rose pointlessly into the heavens. Like Egypt, all the passion for freedom seems to have ended in the replacement of personal tyranny with religous tyranny. Yet, no doubt, as Moore says, great civilisations are built on foundations such as these.
The trouble with Moore is that he actually seems to think that he has said something profound. A few days ago he was rhapsodising about the truth of religion — in opposition to Alain de Botton who considers the notion of religious truth boring, though the forms of religion as something worth borrowing from and using in the new godless state of tomorrow. In response to de Botton Moore claims that “Religion’s usefulness derives from its truth.” The troubling thing here is that he makes no effort whatsoever to show that any of the relevant religious beliefs are true.