Dum Medium Silentium
...the Pope failed to grasp that under the tenets of radical Islam of the modern age, context means little, intent nothing, learning less than zero. If a sentence, indeed a mere phrase can be taken out of context, twisted, manipulated to show an absence of deference to Islam, furor ensues, death threats follow, assassins load their belts....
-Victor Davis Hanson
The following is not just a meditation on how the Pope's quotation of a long dead Byzantine emperor has sparked conflict and controversy. Rather it is a reflection on the entire intellectual atmosphere in which we find ourselves. In more than one way, it is a discourse of silence; silence on all sides, and deafness to history. It is on all levels and in every conversation. The Muslim response to some historical remarks are only the most hostile form of this phenomenon.
I am taking an African American Studies graduate seminar here at the liberal bastion of U.C. Berkeley, and while the class claims to be getting rid of the silences of the people of the African diaspora, by white-washing history too much (no pun intended), I fear that this class will never be able to understand history fully. One of the greatest breakthroughs of modern thought has been the recovery of history. We have the ability now to take things in context, to know and distinguish between our opinions and the opinions of those who came before us, and to appreciate and critique those opinions. Nevertheless, this ability more often than not has proven too painful, and therefore it is silenced, either directly or through shouting it down with the dominant thought-paradigms propagated by the media and academia.
We have our own ideas. Liberal democracy entitles us to think however we want, regardless of our abilities, eloquence, or even facts. When someone attacks us, it often becomes a question of Nietzschean will to power and will to over-power: the will to not have to listen and to assert what we feel and believe on others. Radical Islam, while claiming to be traditional, has proven itself to be the best follower of the postmodern political discourse founded by our syphilitic philosopher. Unlike the erudite and cultured Islam of medieval Muslim Spain, it has decided no longer to talk to anyone and silence everyone with violence when necessary (and even when it is not "necessary"). We too do this on our own small level everyday. Perhaps it is just fallen human nature, magnified by post-1789 principles and sent all over the globe via Internet, television screens and other forms of mass communication. The past is silenced, the facts are put in the closet, the din of opinions and counter-opinions increases to the point of a screeching yell drowning out everything else.....
And in the midst of this silence of noise, a voice of reason emerges that simply states a fact of history, and the well of rage begins to overflow like an exploding volcano.
Enough! Holy Father, stand your ground. It's about time someone did.