Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tocqueville on Christianity and Islam

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
Excerpt from Pajamas Media:

"Following his first sojourn in Algeria, Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the famous 1835 work, On Democracy in America, compared Islam’s lasting impact with that of Christianity (and the latter’s possible disappearance), in an October 1843 letter to Arthur de Gobineau:
If  Christianity should in fact disappear, as so many hasten to predict, it would befall us, as already happened to the ancients before its advent, a long moral decrepitude, a poisoned old age, that will end up bringing I know not where nor how a new renovation. … I closely studied the Koran especially because of our position with regard to the Muslim populations in Algeria and throughout the Orient. I admit that I came out of  that study with the conviction that, all things considered, there had been few religions in the world so dreadful for men as that of Muhammad. It is, I believe, the major cause of  the decadence today so visible in the Muslim world and though it is less absurd than ancient polytheism, its social and political tendencies, in my opinion much more to be feared. I see it relative to paganism itself as a decadence rather than an advance.
Nearly 170 years later, it is a bitter, tragic irony that the harshest and most valid critiques of General Stanley McChrystal — leveled by military officers in Michael Hastings’ now infamous Rolling Stone essay (“The Runaway General“) — hinge upon the general’s ignorant and willfully misconceived formulation of the same timeless Islamic doctrines so plainly elucidated by Tocqueville."