Let’s do it differently, this time. Let’s reject both extremes, with their ridiculous, one-dimensional view of the problem, and act like human beings who listened when Santayana said “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”
Let’s not say that Muslims are bad. There are bad Muslims, and while statistically small, they could still number in the many thousands, possibly millions. But let’s not make the whole religion a scapegoat for its evil underbelly. That makes the world angry at us, makes us look ungrateful to the men who lie buried at Arlington under crescent-engraved headstones, makes it easier for idiot CNN employees to hurl expletives at our president or behead him in effigy. Really, the network needs to vet its part-timers better.
But let’s also stop pretending this isn’t about Islam, because that makes us look stupid. Men who run at innocent diners with knives while screaming “Allahu Akbar” are not random escapees from the insane asylum, drug-addled homeless people or Roman Catholic priests trying to shift attention from the pedophile scandal. We can say all we want that this is not “the” face of Islam, and I agree. It’s not.
But it has something to do with a strain of Islam that has captured the attention and inflamed the passions of people who haven’t gravitated to other religions or philosophies.
We have a reflexive need, we timid Katy Perrys of the world, to demand that we just “all get along.” We cringe at the thought of hurting feelings or appearing racist. And yes, many who point fingers do hate Muslims and take advantage of the increasingly frequent opportunities afforded them by jihadists to camouflage their bigotry under faux concern and common sense.
But most of us who see a direct link between Islam and knife-wielding jihadists are simply looking at history, as Santayana urged. There are a good number of Muslims who agree, and know this is not an attack against Arabs (many of whom are Christian) but a specific assault on a poisonous creed: Wahhabism.
After Saturday’s rampage on London Bridge, several people tried to compare the troubles in Ireland to jihad. It was another feeble attempt to strip the murders in London and Manchester of their sectarian nature. This displays ignorance, either willful or innocent. The conflict between Protestants and Catholics was a political one, one that dates back decades, if not centuries. Neither side in the combat, both Christians, wanted to annihilate the other in the name of Christ. The hatred arose from borders, not creed.
I’d go further and say that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which waged its intifadas over the last century, have not been jihads of Islamic terror, either. Again, it’s about territory, not Trinities. The fact that Yasser and the gang were Muslim is essentially irrelevant to their secular crusade, and their hatred of Jews arises less from faith and more from perceived oppression.
That’s not what went on in London, Manchester, Paris, Nice, Orlando, Manhattan, Shanksville, and all the other places that bear the bloody handprints of jihad. There, it was about the religion and the only political borders that mattered were those of the caliphate.
So let’s do it differently this time. Let’s agree that the vast majority of Muslims are good people, as I can personally attest. But let’s not ignore the central role Islam plays in these attacks. Only when we digest that sober history and then reach out to our Muslim friends, the ones who should and do want to reach back, can we avoid more deaths at the end of knives amid cries of “Allah!”