"Rather more significant is to know what their all-round relationship is to certain values that have always been central to the historical project of the left: democratic and egalitarian values; a decent conception of justice (such as aims to achieve for everyone the possibility of a secure and fulfilled existence); and the protection of individual human beings from the more egregious types of assault to which they are subject when such values are denied or cast aside. Christopher Hitchens's present choice is not my own. I remain attached to the idea of arguing for these values within the left. A left which showed no respect for them wouldn't be worth belonging to.
But all the same, I appreciate and feel the difficulty of accepting a common political identity with the contemporary apologists for terrorism, the mumblers and rootcausers, the people seemingly capable of understanding everything except the need for drawing a clear line between those who uphold the politics of democracy and those dedicated to their destruction. The left today has no reason for self-congratulation. This is a loose movement which is able (and has seen fit) - from the Falklands to Iraq - to mobilize always hundreds, and sometimes thousands and tens of thousands, to oppose conflicts fought by the Western democracies against the ugliest of tyrannies and/or reactionary social and political forces, but musters nothing comparable, or indeed just nothing, against a global campaign of terrorist murder; or, equally, against genocidal processes as these periodically unfold in one country after another, destroying the fabric of entire communities and uncountable numbers of lives.
(...) With those, both within the left and without it, who fight for democratic principles, practices and institutions and the fundamental rights of human beings; against those, whatever their political colour, who always have a reason, or a tactful silence, to offer on behalf of the forces fighting against these things; as well as against these oppressive and murderous forces.
(...) In his What Went Wrong book, Lewis has shown what made Islam so different from other monotheistic religions, particularly from a political and cultural point of view. For centuries, he says, the Islamic world was in the forefront of human achievement—the foremost military and economic power, the leader in the arts and sciences of civilization, etc.—while Christian Europe was sunk in the darkness of barbarism. And then everything changed. What went wrong? Lewis offers no easy answers, but he points out the lack of secularism and its roots at the core of Islam itself.
Secularism in the modern political meaning—the idea that religion and political authority, church and state are different, and can or should be separated—is, in a profound sense, Christian. Its origins may be traced in the teaching of Christ, confirmed by the experience of the first Christians; its later development was shaped and, in a sense, imposed by the subsequent history of Christendom.
In imperial Rome Caesar was God, reasserting a doctrine that goes back to the god-kings of remote antiquity. Among the Jews, for whose beliefs Josephus coined the term “theocracy,” God was Caesar. For the Muslims, too, God was the supreme sovereign, and the caliph was his vice-gerent, “his shadow on earth.” Only in Christendom did God and Caesar coesixt in the state, albeit with considerable development, variety, and sometimes conflict in the relations between them."