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Calvin Freiburger

David, Islam Is Both

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Posted on July 24 2010 10:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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David Swindle’s points about Islam are well taken—in fact, I agree with most of them (except for the claim that Islam shouldn’t be considered a religion, which strikes me as a ridiculous semantic game. According to just about every accepted definition of the term we have, of course Islam is a religion). But his response doesn’t really address the main concern of my July 23 post.

I’m all for talking honestly about what Islam is and is not. As I said yesterday and have said many times before, Islam isn’t a religion of peace, and we’d be suicidal fools to pretend otherwise. We should engage moderate Muslims on the truth about Mohammad and the Koran, absolutely. But nowhere in yesterday’s post do I suggest ambivalence toward “provoking and disturbing the moderate center.” My point was:

If you’re going to pull out powerful rhetorical weapons then you have to take responsibility for the implications of using them.

“Eradicate Islam” suggests a lot more than “provoking and disturbing the moderate center,” asserting the superiority of the West’s Judeo-Christian/Enlightenment tradition, combating fanaticism, or speaking honestly about Islam, and it does so without the assistance of the Left’s trademark video editing and context snipping. To many reasonable, well-intentioned people – especially those we still need to persuade – the phrase does conjure up images of “build[ing] concentration camps, exterminat[ing] Muslims, and nuk[ing] Mecca,” or at the very least suggests that those options are on the table. It also raises the question of how much conservatives are willing to bend the Free Exercise Clause in the pursuit of our goals.

It’s great that David managed to persuade a skeptical Twitterer of our true intentions, but the fact that David had to take the time to set him straight at all should tell us something. The best case scenario for eradication rhetoric is that we have to waste valuable time explaining that we’re not for a new Final Solution (and for what? What goal do we achieve this way that cannot be achieved any other way?) Further, the simple reality is that we’re not going to be Twitter buddies with everyone who raises an eyebrow. They’re not all going to be well-versed in the nuances of conservative thought. They’re not all going to have David Swindles, Jeanette Pryors or Calvin Freiburgers in their lives to set them straight; for many, the left-wing echo chamber of the mainstream media and popular culture will be all they ever hear on the subject.

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes” – which is doubly true when the talking point isn’t a full-blown lie, but an uncharitable extrapolation from an ill-considered statement. By all means, we need to wage a frank, honest, and comprehensive campaign against our jihadist enemies, using military, legal, rhetorical, and cultural means where appropriate. But unless we’re smart and responsible in how we go about that, we’re only going to create more problems than we solve.

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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