Recognizing that there is a religious component to the terrorist threat is simply a matter of commonsense, and downplaying it is sheer stupidity. For the West to ‘declare war’ on Islam would be lunacy, but for the West to ignore the fact that a certain (and, yes, by no means representative) segment of Islam has declared war on the West is suicidal. This assault is both literal (the terrorist attacks) and ideological. The West is responding to the former, but, hog-tied by the pieties of multiculturalism, seems by and large incapable of doing anything about the latter.
The platitudinous ‘can’t we all get on’ mush peddled by the likes of George W. Bush and Joe Lieberman is an insult both to our intelligence and the intelligence of those who the US needs to convince. It’s time to argue back, and when this takes place, there should be no hesitation about framing the argument in secular as well as religious terms. One alternative, of course, to extremist Islam is the far more benign form of that faith practiced (despite the best efforts of Wahhabi missionaries) in large parts of the Islamic world. Another alternative is a purely secular worldview – and it’s time that case was made. The fascinating articles from Reason (on, of all things, music videos) here and here show that, contrary to the entirely misguided conventional prejudice, Arabs are quite capable of looking at more than the mosque to help form their identity.
As this story from the Daily Telegraph would suggest, British Home Secretary Blunkett seems to understand some of this, although one small detail in the report makes for curious reading:
“Ministers of religion, including Muslim imams, are allowed permit-free employment in Britain.”
(There is, I believe, a similar provision in the law over here).