It’s the “elephant in the room” because few things show such remarkable continuity between the past and the present—while still being thoroughly ignored and treated as an aberration by academia, media, and government—as Muslim persecution of Christians. If you look at the true history recorded by both Muslims and Christians during the Medieval era—one Muslim historian tells of how one caliph destroyed 30,000 churches—you will see that the persecution and subjugation of Christians is an ironclad fact of history.
Today, not only do we see Christians persecuted from one end of the Islamic world to the other, but we see the same exact patterns of persecution that Christians experienced centuries ago, including hostility for and restrictions on churches, hostility for the crucifix and other Christian symbols and icons, restrictions on Christian worship and freedom. (I discuss this in more depth here and here.) As for academia and media, they reject modern day persecution of Christians for a plethora of reasons—not least because they tend to be ideologically anti-Christian—but primarily because it contradicts their entire narrative, specifically the notion that, far from being persecuted, Christians themselves are the most intolerant groups, and that Muslims are “misunderstood others” who have been oppressed by the West.
These themes are today so predominant in the West that few can believe they are almost entirely fabricated—but so they are, according to both history and current events, both of which are naturally suppressed or distorted by academia and media in the interest of keeping their ideologically-charged narrative alive . . . .
Along with the aforementioned fallacy of projecting Christian/Western worldviews onto a distinctly different religion/civilization like Islam, secular Westerners almost always try to understand Islam through secular and materialistic paradigms—the only paradigms they themselves are familiar with. Thus the mainstream interpretation in the West is that “radical Islam” is a byproduct of various sorts of material discontent (economic, political, social) and has little to do with the religion itself.
Westerners apparently think this way because the secular, Western experience has been such that people respond with violence primarily when they feel they are politically, economically, or socially oppressed. While true that many non-Western peoples fit into this paradigm, the fact is, the ideologies of Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the “other,” irrespective of grievances.
Conceptually, then, it must be first understood that many of the problematic ideologies associated with radical Islam trace directly back to Sharia, Islamic law. Jihad as offensive warfare to subjugate “infidels” (non-Muslims); mandated social discrimination against non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim nations (the regulations governing ahl al-dhimma); the obligation to hate non-Muslims—even if a Muslim is married to one—all of these are clearly defined aspects that have historically been part of Islam’s worldview and not “open to interpretation.”
For example, the obligation to wage expansionist jihad is as “open to interpretation” as the obligation to perform the Five Pillars of Islam, including praying and fasting. The same textual sources and methods of jurisprudence that have made it clear that prayer and fasting are obligatory, have also made it clear that jihad is also obligatory; the only difference is that, whereas prayer and fasting is an “individual” duty, jihad is understood to be a “communal” duty (a fard kifaya). All these intricacies must be understood before Westerners can understand Islam on its own terms.This of course cuts clean across the dominant narrative, but has the distinct advantage of having good warrant.
De-spinning context, in short. END