I am not a scholar of either the Koran or Islam in general, so I have no idea whether Islam is a religion of peace. I do not know whether the formal doctrine of the religion of Islam is to respect the right of non-Islamists to exercise their own religions without interference. I do not know whether the formal doctrine of the religion of Islam recognizes the fundamental right of every non-Islamist to life and liberty.
I do, however, know two things for sure. First, the vast majority of Islamists have repeatedly insisted that Islam is a religion of peace, and that Islam condemns absolutely the conduct of those who, in the name of Allah, have crashed planes into skyscrapers, blown up ships, murdered innocent people, shot and killed Muslim children in a school, captured, raped and sold young girls into prostitution, planted bombs in crowds, kidnapped and beheaded toursits and journalists, and condemned to death anyone who, in their minds, has insulted the Islamic religion in any way. The vast, vast majority of Islamists, both in Islamic countries and in other countries around the world, live their lives and raise their families and pursue their careers in the same spirit of peace and cooperation and good will with which the vast, vast majority of non-Islamists do. Whatever may be the formal doctrine of Islam, the conduct of those who claim Islam as their religion certainly evinces an attitude diametrically opposed to the vile, cowardly, monstrous acts described above.
The second thing I know for sure follows directly from the first. The men and women who espouse, direct or carry out these acts are not warriors, either spiritual or secular. They are thugs. They are criminals of the worst kind. To call them beasts would be an insult to the world of beaasts. No greater political mistake could have been made than to announce that we were at war with these perverts. Even Hitler and his psychopathic cohorts were sufficiently clever to convince an entire nation to turn over the national reins to them. Absent that endorsement, however, would we have gone to war with a gang consisting of the likes of Goebbels and Goring and Hitler and Himmler? Of course not. We, and all the nations of the world, would have hunted them down as the heinous criminals they were. The monsters who engaged in these desecrations deserve absolutely nothing more than to be pursued and they and their kind removed from society.
The conclusions we should draw from these two sureties are obvious, but it’s my blog, so I’ll express them anyway. First, we need to stop calling these people Islamists, extreme or otherwise. You don’t become an Islamist just by shouting “Allah ou akbar!” every time you commit one of these hideous crimes. Using the name of Islam in any way in connection with these ogres tends to give them the credence of which they do not deserve one shred.
The second conclusion is that we need to preserve the place of Islam among the great religions of the world. It would be a tragedy, and it would be considered a howling success by the adherents to this cult of monstrosity, if we were to exclude from our society this great religion and the the wonderful congerie of men and women who both espouse the tenets of Islam and contribute in endless ways to the betterment of our society. It would also deal a blow to the American ideal of the intrinsic worth of every human being from which we would not likely recover. Jefferson has often been quoted as saying that the price of liberty is constant vigilance. Undoubtedly he meant that liberty is preserved only by constantly assuring that liberty is not denied merely on racial or religious or nationalistic grounds. Those who espouse such exclusions are, either out of ignorance or ill will, lead us down a path to our own ultimate destruction.
In sum, then. Islam is to be no more condemned because of the crimes of these monsters than is Christianity for the equally monstrous crimes of the Inquisition and the persecution of Jews. It is far more appropriate to condemn these people for what they really are and allow Islam to flourish as another part of the great American rainbow.