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Radical Analysis for a Radical Religion, Part 1: Did Al Qaeda “Distort” Islam?

Posted on December 19 2009 7:53 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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As the President gave his long-awaited speech on his Afghanistan strategy a few weeks ago I sat live-tweeting responses and trying to anticipate how NewsReal’s bloggers might respond to it.

The first remark from Obama’s speech which struck me as tweet-worthy came early:

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda — a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents.

And so I tweeted this immediate response:

Was Al Qaeda really distorting Islam? It’s comfortable to think that isn’t it?

As I knew it would, this particular comment did not sit very well with my more left-leaning friends who accused me of being ignorant of Islam. When my tweet imported onto Facebook my lectures began. I started hearing equivalency arguments about all the violent things in the Old Testament. I started getting comparisons between Tim McVeigh and Al Qaeda. And I was told that to even suggest any understanding of Islam other than Obama’s politically-correct platitude was “garbage” and “ill-informed and borer-line [sic] ignorant.”

But I do have an understanding of what’s in the Koran and what Islam is about. And I tend to think that the difference between the Radical Islam of the world’s Al Qaedas and Nidal Hasans compared to the Islam of our friendly Muslim neighbors is that the former actually does what the Koran tells them to do. It’s actually the Muslims who accept religious pluralism and the American Idea who are distorting (or ignoring) the Koran — and more power to them.

How have I arrived at this conclusion? While it was not the only influence, reading my Freedom Center colleague Robert Spencer’s great new book The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran helped quite a bit.

I’ve finally completed my review of Robert’s book. (Surely some of NewsReal’s longtime readers have noticed that as the publication has grown my editorial duties have caused a downturn in my writing output. Sorry, Robert, for not getting my review out sooner.) But hopefully this is decent timing for those looking for a last-minute Christmas present for friends and family.

Tomorrow and Monday NewsReal will feature my review. Similar to the review I wrote of my colleague Jamie Glazov’s book United In Hate my focus will be my primary intellectual preoccupation: radicalism and the Radical Spirit.

Click here for part 2

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