What’s Islam Got to Do with It?
The role of Islam in terrorism should not be banned from discussion.


Clifford D. May

I’d add this: Those who tar all Muslims with a single brush make a serious mistake, unwittingly assisting not just bin Ladenists, but also Iran’s theocrats. Muslim liberals and reformers should be our allies in the war that must be waged against totalitarianism and supremacism in their contemporary manifestations.

But combining sensitivity and intellectual honesty is not so difficult. To acknowledge that Nazism was a German ideology hardly makes one a Germanophobe. You can love Italy while recognizing that Fascism was deeply rooted in Italian soil. Russia gave the world Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky. It also gave us Leninism and Stalinism. And can you imagine the U.S. government banning any linkage of the Spanish Inquisition with the Vatican — lest it offend Roman Catholics?

The radical ideologies that today most threaten America, Israel, and Europe arise from within the Muslim world and are justified by fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic scripture. Those who lead movements and regimes based on these ideologies have been inspired by the Islamic conquests of centuries past. They believe a second age of Islamic power and glory is achievable — if Muslims are willing to fight for it as did Mohammad, his companions, and the “Soldiers of Allah” (a phrase, you may recall, that the “violent extremist” Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan proudly printed on his calling cards).

Muslim liberals and reformers do not deny this. Those who do deny it are not Muslim liberals or reformers — but they are exerting influence at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

That can be explained in part by the fact that in the Middle East there is an enormous amount of money — nearly every penny of it derived from the sale of oil to the West — backing those who seek to revive Islamic imperialism and colonialism.

To forbid American officials and those who work with them from even discussing such matters is either an attempt at appeasement that is sure to fail or a manifestation of madness that, if not checked, can only contribute to the West’s decline and, ultimately, submission.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


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