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Anti-Muslim Ignorance and Caricatures are Conservative Problems

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Posted on March 14 2010 2:18 pm

Sounds like something from the Koran, right? Wrong. This passage about violently rendering payback and vengeance to one’s enemies comes not from the Koran, but from the Bible’s Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:41).

When it comes to politics, I stand second to no one in my willingness to swim against the tide and to champion unfashionable causes. I also stand second to no one in my support of the war on radical Islam.

In fact, I quite literally enlisted in that war by joining the United States Marine Corps after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. However, I must say that I have been dismayed and disappointed at the hostility toward Islam expressed by some NewsReal Blog contributors and commenters.

For example, my March 4 blog entry, “Our Troops Believe in Moderate Islam,” was met with near-universal scorn and skepticism. Commenter Joe Blough seemed to capture the prevailing sentiment best.

“WAKE UP! …There may be plenty of moderate Muslims… but there is NO moderate Islam.”

Another commenter, Tanstaafl (JW), even provided a list of passages from the Qur’an  (or Koran) which purport to demonstrate the “myth of ‘moderate’ Islam. Taken in isolation, of course, the passages seem shockingly violent and vindictive. For example:

Qur’an 9:5 Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.

13And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:

Oops. That last passage isn’t actually from the Qur’an. It’s from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 20:13).

My point isn’t to create a false equivalence between Islam and Judaism or Islam and Christianity. Judeo-Christianity is a demonstrably superior tradition which has given rise to the undeniable greatness of the West. Islamic culture simply isn’t comparable.

But the idea that Islam is inherently threatening and irredeemable also isn’t true. This charge, in fact, is a dangerous and malicious lie. In reality, as Dinesh D’Souza observes in his excellent (albeit much misunderstood) book, The Enemy at Home: the Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11:

The Koran, like the Old Testament, has a number of passages recommending peace and others celebrating the massacre of the enemies of God.

This is not to say that Islam is a religion of peace. Rather it is to say that Islam is far more rich and complicated than the simple caricature of Islam created by vehement right-wing critics like Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online, and yes, my colleague here at NewsReal Blog, John L. Work.

In any case, going to war, either literally or metaphorically, against Islam is as imprudent and unwise as it is unnecessary. Muslims, after all, are an estimated one-fifth of the world’s population and are a majority in some 57 countries.

The United States is seriously challenged to win the wars it is now in in two of those countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. Opening up a second front, this time against all of Islam, seems to me to be completely impractical and profoundly stupid. Yet, that seems to be the approach urged upon us by right-wing critics like Spencer, McCarthy and Work.

A better approach would be to follow the counsel of Islamic scholar Daniel Pipes. Pipes urges Western leaders to encourage and promote moderate Islamic thinking and scholarship. This to help promote a moderate reformation of Islam.

But to follow this approach, you first have to believe that Islam has an inherent truth which is worth explicating and developing. I believe that it does; my right-wing critics believe otherwise; and therein lies the crux of our dispute.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter.

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