Of course, the effort to disassociate Nolen from Islam proceeds full steam ahead. (“I can’t imagine any Muslim taking a Hebrew name,” mused Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR, referring to that “Jah’Keem Yisrael” moniker.) Denouncing what he did is good, but claiming that everyone else is nuts for thinking he might have found inspiration in the Koran for his beheading attack – or the rant about stoning women that some locals say is the reason he got fired from his job – is both deeply dishonest and profoundly unhelpful. Likewise with the Obama Administration’s bizarre insistence that there’s nothing Islamic about the Islamic State, or Boko Haram, or Hamas, or Hezbollah, or the Taliban, or the Iranians who engineered the death of so many American soldiers in Iraq…
A problem cannot be overcome by denying it exists, and Islam does have a problem. It’s sheer lunacy to deny it. And it’s an interesting brand of lunacy for the very same American media that strove mightily to link Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage in Tucson to the faintest emanations of mainstream conservative thought. Does that blithering idiot sheriff who tried to paint Loughner as a murderous disciple of Rush Limbaugh have anything to say about Islam’s role in the Nolen beheading attack? How about Brian Ross of ABC News – has he been calling organizations across Oklahoma to learn if they have any members named “Alton Nolen” or “Jah’Keem Yisrael,” the way he swiftly attempted to implicate the Tea Party in the Colorado theater shooting? But now they’re going to piously declare that a religious ideology linked to violent groups and terrorist organizations around the world has absolutely nothing to do with their actions… despite their loud and proud declarations to the contrary?
At some level, this is all a manifestation of bigotry toward the people the Left really hates. Ever since 9/11, the exoneration of Islam has included pre-emptive accusations of violent bigotry against the knuckle-dragging rubes in flyover country who supposedly need just the flimsiest of excuses to start firebombing mosques. A lot of this “Islam is innocent” stuff is a ritual of tribal identification among people who seek to position themselves as higher intellects than the rednecks who think shouting “Allahu akbar!” while sawing off the head of a bound hostage has something to do with Islam.
This also becomes a flavor of the “know-nothing” spirit that animates much of the Left these days – studied ignorance as a demonstration of ideological commitment. Look at all those right-wing goobers actually quoting passages from the Koran! Don’t they know “tolerance” requires being proudly ignorant of every intolerant thing it says?
There are plenty of good Muslims out there. I know it, because I’ve met them. I think of them every time one of these dust-ups with radical Islam makes headlines, because I fear that the effort to airbrush the role of Muslim teachings out of wars and atrocities ultimately makes things harder on the true moderates. Pretending that the reformation of Islam already happened is obscures the challenges faced by the people who are actually trying to carry it out. It also creates highly unrealistic expectations in the minds of those outside the religion. If Islam is a religion of peace, and only a teensy tiny minority of whacked-out extremists believes otherwise, then why are the moderate Muslims having so much trouble asserting control over Islamic populations? They should be able to toss those radical extremists bums out overnight, no problem!
In truth, the challenge faced by moderate Muslims is formidable, and everyone who values harmony in a pluralistic society should be foursquare behind them… which requires taking a clear look at the size, power, and ideology of their opposition. If a layman is completely oblivious to how passages in the Koran support both aggressive political domination and violence, he would find it absolutely baffling that so many Muslims fall outside the parameters of “moderate” behavior. Where are all those extremists getting their crazy ideas? Why are there so many of them?
Western governments also do moderate Muslims no favors by allowing bullies to impose aspects of sharia law on otherwise pluralistic societies. The expectations of such a society should be made clear to all of its members, regardless of their faith tradition. There are no exceptions to the First Amendment for suppressing speech and images Muslims find offensive. We should not tolerate vigilante efforts to suppress such speech, or use the Heckler’s Veto to silence Islam’s critics, either. That sort of thing provides great encouragement to the very forces we want moderate Islam to defeat during its reformation process.
It’s silly to say that all Muslims are violent totalitarians. It’s equally silly to say that none of them are, or that interpretations of the Koran considered valid by a large number of people support violence and oppression. The amount of evidence one must ignore to believe the latter proposition has grown to towering proportions, and moderate Islam current lives in its shadow. They need help and support from their neighbors, not impatient foot-tapping as we wait for them to overcome opposition we’ve been told is numerically insignificant. They know otherwise, so as long as Western governments insist on believing it, the moderates know they’re on their own.