• The London Attack - It's Time for an Honest Conversation.

    Following the latest London Islamic terrorist attacks on June 3, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May, as quoted in the New York Times, referred to terrorism as, “a perversion of Islam.” To be sure, she is not alone. Following the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack, President George W. Bush said, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.” I find this very interesting as neither of these leaders are Muslims. How could they possibly know this? Perhaps they believe that wishful thinking creates truth. Following the World Trade Center attack, President Bush declared war against terror. Isn’t this similar to declaring war against crime, or war against drugs, or war against poverty, or for that matter, war against the blitzkrieg? Terror is a tactic, not an organization.

    This is the kind of rhetoric leaders routinely use after an Islamic terrorist attack in order to appease certain elements of their populace and to obfuscate the obvious. It is also an attempt to quiet those who are willing to call a spade a spade. Anyone who might point out that Islam has been engaged in continuous warfare somewhere on this planet against other value systems since its inception fourteen hundred years ago, would be associated with hatred and bigotry. This politically correct rhetoric is designed to shut down the conversation.

    One of the components of modern progressivism is the belief that many conflicts are steeped in ignorance. We are suspicious of what we don’t understand. Suspicion leads to fear. Fear leads to conflict. How many times have we heard the word ignorance associated with bigotry? If only people learned about other cultures they wouldn’t be fearful. This understanding would evolve into tolerance and then acceptance. If there are differences then the two sides can give a little and harmony would prevail. If Muslims understood that we only want the best for everyone then there wouldn’t be all of this hostility. Who would reject inalienable human rights? Who wouldn’t want liberty and freedom? Then again, maybe Muslims understand us better than we think they do and they have already rejected our values. Perhaps they have not only rejected them, but they have also sworn to change them. Could this be the real impetus for the violence against us - because we are not like them?

    Many people correctly point out that most Muslims are peaceful and friendly. They will also correctly point out that it is highly unlikely any one of us will ever get caught-up in an Islamic terrorist attack. In the United States, there are more people who die from lightning strikes than die from being mowed down by a ranting Muslim in a motor vehicle. They will correctly point out that the reason we are even aware of global Islamic terrorism is because the news media get higher ratings when they cover sensational stories. This results in more revenue from advertisers. However, to pretend Islamic terrorism does not exist is astoundingly willful. Many people want to remain blissfully uniformed so they do not have to engage in this conversation.

    If we had a conversation, here are some of the questions we might want to ask: Is diversity, simply for the sake of diversity, a good thing? Who has the moral authority to say others are bad, or at a minimum, bad for us? If I make a moral judgement, isn’t this judgement taken from only one perspective - my own? Maybe others are simply different. Is Islam simply a religion, or is it a way of life that is comprehensively coded into Islamic law called sharia, and comes complete with its own government? Would people who love individualism be comfortable living under the arguably restrictive mores of Islam which would be enforced on the general population? Terrorism is essentially violence that is directed at a civilian population in order to effect change. If terrorism only occurs because of the actions of a few lone wolves who really do not represent Islam, then why are Islamic terrorists such a disparate group of individuals? Most of them have never met, let alone coordinated acts of aggression. How many times must Islamic terrorism occur before we realize perhaps there is something more systemic and intrinsic to the causality of terrorism? If there isn't, then these are quite literally copycat mass murders that only coincidentally were perpetrated by Muslims. If these were copycats, then Yang Qingpei or James Holmes could have just as easily yelled "Allahu Akbar" as this appears to be in fashion these days among mass murderers.

    Perhaps if we had this conversation in an honest way, detached from name calling, some people in our liberal societies would have to grapple with the realization that Islamic mores are illiberal compared to ours. This could result in painful cognitive dissonance. How can two progressive values be correct when they are diametrically opposed to each other? Why do we tolerate what would be considered hate speech from one group but not from another? Why do we rally for the equality of women or for the ability to self-identify our gender but dismiss the inequality and violence when it is perpetuated by Muslims against these groups? Perhaps those progressives who refer to individuals who resist change as “radicals,” would be forced to realize that Islam is not about change. Perhaps Islam is about locking people into a way of life that thankfully vanished for most non-Muslims shortly after Europe’s dark ages.

    While Islam is incredibly diverse, probably due to the sheer number of hadiths, some commonality of belief is found in all divisions of Islam and schools of sharia. One such belief relates to the eventual global domination of Islam. This is because the idea that all other value systems must be subordinated by Islam does not originate from an oral hadith of questionable accuracy, but rather from the infallible Qur’an. Perhaps this is why Muslims who immigrate to other societies believe these societies must adapt to Islamic mores rather than Muslims adapting to the mores of their new societies. Perhaps the greatest difference between the Islamic factions seeking to advance Islam is in the tactics employed rather than the desired outcome. Should radical Islam conduct asymmetric warfare (terrorism) against stronger military powers, which is championed by the likes of al-Qaeda and IS, or should moderate Islam subvert non-Islamic societies from within, which is advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood as discovered in the Holy Land Foundation Trial? If this is the substantive difference between radical and moderate Islam, then is there really any fundamental difference? Why do we even bother to differentiate between the two?

    These are the kinds of questions that must be addressed in an honest conversation rather than attempting to shut down the conversation because it might be uncomfortable. This conversation must not be about bigotry but rather about a fundamental difference in values. It must be honest and candid. Perhaps those who seek to silence the debate have no real answers to these uncomfortable questions. Placing our fingers in our ears and yelling “na, na, na” in the mannerism of a typical six-year-old child is not helpful in a mature republic that demands consensus. However, we have no chance of coming to any consensus unless we permit ourselves to have this conversation.

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