As Steyn explains, Christianity spread throughout Europe in an entire different way than Islam spread throughout the Middle-East. Christianity spread through pacifism: Christians lived peacefully, were willing to endure torture and persecutions, but didn't turn to violence themselves. They tried to persuade people to convert by preaches, giving the right example, talking individuals personally, but never using violence.
Islam, as I said, had a slightly different start. Most people didn't convert to Islam because the early Muslims were persuasive with words, they were mostly 'persuasive' with the sword. Convert, (pay taxes) or die. That was the choice 'infidels' that got conquered by Muslim forces had.
Steyn quotes Jesus' final words (on the day of his ascension) to His disciples to Mohammed's last words:
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
"Be witness" -> this simply means, spread the Word, spread the Gospel. Nothing violent about it.
"I was ordered to fight all men until they say, ‘There is no god but Allah.'"
As he explains:
That's quite a difference. Christ is saying go to the remotest parts of the world and persuade others of what you know to be the truth. Mohammed is saying fight all men until they submit to your truth: It's not a plan for converting an existing empire (as Christianity did) but for establishing a new empire. Islam was born and spread as a warrior's creed and, while that can be sedated, the intensity of anger of today's western Muslims suggests that the Mohammedan fighter endures at the heart of their faith, albeit significantly augmented by greater firepower.
As should be obvious by now, Jihadis are, in a way, simply continuing the fine tradition of conversion by sword. That is also why, as Steyn also writes, we shouldn't expect some kind of 'reform' to take place in Islam. Violence is, sadly, at the very foundation of the birth of this religion.
It's hard to argue direct quotation is a "distortion" of the "religion of peace." The respective statements of Jesus and Mohammed are, to say the least, indicative of disposition. The embrace of Christianity by the state power in Europe was the final stage in a process of pacific conversion. Whereas, at the height of its power in the eighth century, when the "Islamic world" stretched from Spain to India, its population was only minority Muslim, and it suited the Caliphate to keep it that way: fiscally speaking, a subordinate infidel population paying the jizya (the special tax for non-Muslims) was a critical component. Islam was less a proselytizing faith than a rationale for political authority. And today's jihad has far more in common with a conventional imperial regime than with any religious evangelizing.
Which means there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that Islam will soon be able to enforce submission-conversion at the point of a nuke. The good news is that any religion that needs to do that is, by definition, a weak one. More than that, the fierce faith of the 8th century Muslim warrior has been mostly replaced by a lot of hastily cobbled-together flimflam bought wholesale from clapped out European totalitarian pathologies. It would have struck almost any other ruler of Persia as absurd and unworthy to be as pitifully obsessed with Holocaust denial as President Ahmadinejad is: talk about a bad case of Europhile cultural cringe. But in today's mosques and madrassahs there is almost as little contemplation of the divine as there is in the typical Anglican sermon. The great Canadian columnist David Warren argues that Islam is desperately weak, that it has been "idiotized" by these obsolescent imports of mid-20th century Fascism. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but, if Washington had half the psy-ops spooks the movies like to think we have, the spiritual neglect in latter-day Islam is a big Achilles' heel just ripe for exploiting.
Cross posted at Liberty and Justice