Reason as an Absolute: The Answer To Islamic ‘Extremists’

by | May 21, 2015

Reason is the only antidote to militant, faith-based force.


It is chilling to think about, but the United States will likely be fighting the war on terror for generations to come, Michael Morell, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2011 to 2013, told on 5/20.

“Probably the scariest thing at the end of the day, is I believe based on my experience that my children’s generation and my grandchildren’s generation are still going to be fighting this fight,” Morell said on “The Steve Malzberg Show.”

Is Morell correct? And if so, why?

For the answer, consider the following from

The Islamic State social networking site has a photo showing a child holding a severed head amid a gathering of other children, which was tweeted and went viral with an attached phrase that said “This is how the cubs of the Caliphate are raised up”, boasting of this heinous act.

It should be noted that it is not the first time that such boast is made in which the heads of victims are being carried by children. An Australian Muslim child held in his hand the heads of severed Syrian troops. The head of the Shariah judge of the General brigades “Hawks of Sham,” had been carried by children after the ISIS killed him.

This image comes after the disclosure that the children are being trained to kill in the name of religion, in the framework of the preparation of the Islamic state raising a generation of fighters to rid the world of “infidels”.

It’s actually very simple.

Supporters of radical Islam and ISIS argue that there are absolutes. The absolute truth, to them, is the supernatural message of Allah, the afterlife, and the requirement to live by their dogmatic beliefs — or else die.

The only way to fight these absolutes? With absolutes from the opposite direction. The absolute opposite of militant Islam (or any militant religion) is reason. Reason demands that you prove your point, via logic and facts. If your point is entirely faith-based, then it’s certainly your choice to live your life on that basis. But, reason replies: Hands off my ideas, my mind, my body and my freedom.

The prevailing idea in the United States, and most of Western culture, is: Absolutes are bad. Ideology is bad. That’s why, thus far, we’re as impotent at defeating ISIS militarily as we are intellectually. We don’t lack military firepower. We could scare the Allah out of much of the Middle East with little problem, if we had the intellectual and moral arguments clear in our mind for doing so.

We’re told by Popes, professors and Presidents that militant Islam is an example of ideology out of control. Actually, that’s not right. Militant Islam is an example of the wrong ideology out of control. What makes militant Islam stand out is that it’s the utter, total and polar opposite of everything rational, including the values of freedom, productivity, capitalism and the separation of church and state that only reason could ever have spawned.

The former deputy director of the CIA senses the truth when he suggests the grandchildren of today’s younger people will still be fighting militant Islam. This is because militant Islam has drawn a line in the sand — spiritually, mentally and physically. “You are bad; we are good. You are wrong; we are right. Either you join our religion — or you die.”

The only way to respond, both in theory and practice, is this way: “Islam and ISIS, you are wrong; you are bad. Freedom is right, and freedom is good. Freedom permits you to believe and practice whatever you wish to believe and practice. But you have no right to ever, ever tread upon any individual who disagrees with you. You are as obliged to leave them alone as they are to leave you alone. Government will take no position, other than the position that physically threatening or harming another will always be punished. Shape up — or pay the consequences with the full force of everything we’ve got. We will not keep living this way.”

This is clearly not the attitude of our government, our leaders, our academics, or anyone who passes as a spiritual leader today. Yet it’s the only attitude that can defeat militant Islam, an attitude that has to be articulated and practiced by our leaders. Go ahead and say it’s too strong, too extreme, and absolutely unnecessary. Then you’ll be like the former deputy director of the CIA, drowning in fear, anxiety and with no real answers, hoping and praying the next attack doesn’t come too close.

Think of Islam as a challenge. It’s a rebellion against all the material, scientific and rational progress of the West, particularly the United States in the last couple of centuries. Islam is the voice of the wilderness, the voice of the Middle Ages, the voice of painful, miserable and short existences on earth; that attitude is reasserting itself in rage against all that humankind has done to advance itself in the intervening centuries. Militant Islam is not giving up, and it’s not going anywhere.

There’s no compromise here. There’s no gray area, no in-between, no possibility of any middle ground. Even to suggest such a thing, to a militant Muslim, is enough to literally lose your head. Iran, ISIS and others who have this ideology laugh at our Secretary of State’s and President’s calls for peace, compromise, arms reduction and the like. It buys them time to give us what they are fully and totally convinced we deserve — annihilation, plain and simple.

Stop asking “why?” when you read stories of children having bombs strapped to their bodies, or celebrating the beheading of infidels. This is what absolutism looks like when it’s posed by the wrong ideas. You already know why; I just told you, and most of you out there are simply evading it.

You can’t defeat ISIS or militant Islam by covering your ears and eyes and pretending that it will go away if you do so. Reality has a way of continuing to exist independent of the wishes, whims, desires or intentions of anyone’s consciousness.

You can’t defeat the proponent of any irrational ideology by saying, “The problem is extremism and ideology; if we get rid of those things, then all will be well.”

Nazi Germany was not conquered by peace treaties, or sensitivity seminars to try and better understand the point of view of the Nazis, or apologies to Hitler for all of America’s past successes accompanied by vows to be more humble in the future. Humility and pacifism of this kind actually create war, not prevent it.

When you make the claim that extremism and ideas are the problem, you’re implying agreement with the opposite idea of reason. Reason is an ideology. It’s a rational ideology, most dramatically expressed by Aristotle, the father of modern science as we know it, and the fountainhead of all that makes our scientific, technological civilization so incredibly livable. This is all thanks to reason, and absolutely no thanks to Islam or any similar ideology of violent irrationalism. Reason is the only antidote to militant, faith-based force. Be ready to defend it every bit as militantly as those now attacking it.

Reason does not mean waging peace with people who do not want peace. Reason requires that we’re strong, when attacked, and fight back with all the moral and physical firepower that we have. To date, all our leaders have done with respect to violent Islam is essentially lie down, roll over, and say, “Please, please like me.” Obama has been especially disgusting in this regard, but he is not the first to act this way.

ISIS and its adherents would not stand a chance against an America whose intellectual and political leaders stood united on one point: You have no right to kill us. If you don’t stop what you’re doing, then we’re going to do whatever we have to do to stop you.

If Iran is the potential friend Obama and Kerry seem to think it is, then let’s demand that Iran separate church and state, respect the individual rights of their citizens, and gear their government’s efforts towards destroying ISIS and similar terrorist groups. Of course, it’s not going to happen, and we know it.

It’s not a matter of fighting fire with fire. It’s fighting fire with water. The fire was set by the advocates of militant Islam; the only way to put it out is with the metaphorical water of reason, freedom, individual rights and church-state separation.

Absolutes got us into this mess. Only the right absolutes will get us out.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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