About a week ago, U.S. forces burned a cache of desecrated Korans. As anyone with even a passing knowledge of world affairs knows, this would and did result in a deadly backlash, so qualifying this as a bonehead move understates the issue.

That being said, it’s unfortunate but predictable that the apologies that followed took the form they did. They traveled up the chain of command to the president himself. It did not stop the violence, and whether it even mitigated it is a debatable point. Why? Because we have chosen to willfully ignore some salient facts about the Muslim community.

First, it’s necessary to define terms. I choose to call violent jihadists Islamists rather than Muslims, because it affords clarity. By billing themselves as religious Muslims, these fanatics know they hamstring their Western enemies by cloaking themselves in the armor of religion. While Americans have become more secular and have little concern about tossing barbs in the direction of peaceful Christians (who may hunker down with their guns and bibles but rarely use the former in defense of the latter), a respect for freedom of worship still forms a cornerstone of our society. Islamists can cite a belief in Allah as the motivating force for their egregious behavior. For them, the Koran burning afforded them the opportunity to fan the flames of anti-Western sentiment and motivate their true believers into action. I suspect the leaders regarded our stupidity with glee rather than outrage. Our apology to the Muslim community was abject, and nonconfrontational. A more appropriate response from our generals and president might have been to apologize, explain the circumstances that led to the burning, promise to take appropriate action to assure no recurrence, and add in no uncertain terms that any violence on the part of radical fundamentalists would be unacceptable and dealt with in kind. However, because we expect their violent behavior even though we find it unacceptable,  and abhor senseless killing, it triggers the natural human reaction to appease. It might even be analogized to the Stockholm syndrome, where the kidnap victim begins to identify with the captor. Since the administration and much of society does not distinguish the Islamist from the Muslim, at least in the religious sense, we are, in essence, held captive.

Defining jihadists as Islamists allows us to see them clearly for what they are: a satanic cult. Allah in the context of Islamism is Satan, and all moral confusion evaporates. Islamists are Nazis using the cover of religion, and the confusion it breeds, to recruit fanatics and confound their enemies. With this distinction in place, those Muslims that don’t subscribe to Sharia law and this dark transformation of the Muslim religion can be addressed independently.

This approach has the added benefit of allowing us to more starkly define the state of the Muslim society. I stated above that we often fail to distinguish the Islamist from the Muslim in terms of their theology, and I lay this at the feet of the Muslims themselves. In my opinion, the backlash from that community has been relatively muted. There have been isolated voices of protest, but a concerted international effort on the part of Muslims has not materialized. In arguing this point with a Muslim colleague here in the U.S., the response I received was one of surprise that someone with my background could be so ill-informed and bigoted. This gentleman, who I believe to be free of anti-Semitism or anti-Christian sentiment, fears that the entire Muslim community will be whitewashed with the same negative brush and marginalized (at best) by bigotry. He was unreceptive to the argument that the outrage that would pour forth from the Christian or Jewish communities if similar acts of terrorism were committed in their names was sadly lacking from the international Muslim community. I’m proud that the incidence of violence against Muslim-Americans has been low, but I share his concerns that Muslim citizens of good character will face the specter of conscious or subconscious prejudice by association on the part of non-Muslims.

It’s exactly this association that is at the core of the problem. What remains unclear to me, and likely to many Americans, is to what extent the absence of a strident Muslim voice of protest is born of fear of reprisal or silent approbation of the jihadists’ efforts. Perhaps this uncertainty is what brands me as a bigot in my Muslim colleague’s eyes. He insists that those with radical beliefs comprise only a small percentage of the Muslim community. While I believe this to be true in this nation, I don’t know what the status is in the international community.

The bottom line is that we cannot win “the war on terror” without the active support of Muslims themselves against the Islamists. There are those that argue that the Koran sanctions the jihadists’ program of violence, and cite passages to prove their point. Although I’m not a religious scholar, in a tome as complex as the Koran with often opposing and contradictory entries, using this argument to assume we know the mind of the individual is fraught with hazard. Rather, we must judge the actions of the people.  Within the ranks of the Muslim community fear must be overcome and battle lines publicly drawn to marginalize and ultimately excise the threat, and prevent the Muslim religion from being hijacked in the service of their evil cause. Dark Islam cannot flourish in a soil poisoned to their beliefs.

Does this make me a bigot? I’ll leave you to decide. In the meantime, I’d like to say I’m sorry, but….


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