I have had an eight-month dialog with fellow Conservatives on Islam, Muslims and their place in the Global War on Terror. I have come to share my assessment of the overall discussion, with the hope of sharing this perspective with Americans who follow Islam. I trust Muslim readers to offer advice, resources, and information that may permit me to change some hearts and minds in my side of the blogosphere.
In the discussions that I have had in chat rooms and websites, I think there are basically three sorts of Rightosphere posters. For simplicity, I will classify them according to constructs analogous to how this blog categorizes Muslims:
1) Humanist Conservatives – those who recognize there is a difference between terror-embracing Islamic extremists and the rest of the Islamic population. Though there may be some concerns about the percentage of extremists, these commentators do not consider all Muslims jihadists.
2) Anti-Islam Extremists – those who think each and every Muslim is a taqqiya talking, sharia-loving potential suicide bomber.
3) Islam Questioning Conservatives – those who have little experience with peace-oriented, tolerant Muslims but are essentially fair minded, and who also have rational and genuine concerns regarding the actions and true beliefs of Muslims.
My Muslim friends, it is with this third class that I need your help. The Humanist Conservatives are open to respectful dialog, honest friendship, and will provide helpful assistance to Humanist Muslims. Anti-Islam extremists will continually negate the existence of Muslims that don’t fit into their Jihadist mould, seek out information on Islam if very limited venues, and are quite beyond rational exchanges. It is the Islam Questioning Conservatives that we need to respectfully address. This post is an attempt to begin dealing with their justifiable concerns and their reasonable views.
I do not hesitate to admit that my personal and positive experiences with individual Muslims have influenced my comments. However, one of the aspects of Islamic discourse I have discovered, is that many fellow Americans have only dealt with the Islamic extremists and Wahhabi-embracing members of Islam. The Republican Party and Conservative movements have numerous current and former members of the military. These honorable servicemen and women, who sacrifice to protect our freedoms and liberties, have only met the anti-Western Jihadist fomenting terror and craving the complete conquest of the West.
One of these American servicemen is Jarhead, who has often expressed his distrust of Islam in our debates. Jarhead joined the Marines as a response to the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979 and is one of America’s Beirut Veterans. Jarhead wishes to note that some Americans have been aware of the threat of “Radical Islam” (to use the current phrase), along before 9/11 or the Global War on Terror. He writes:
Many Marines (and not all I do know), former and current active duty that I associate with, see ourselves as the wall that protects America from her enemies. In doing so, we have adopted the idea, we are individual bricks in the wall. It is our love of country, our duty, our mission in life, our honor to be a member of that wall. This is the mortar that holds us together. We see ourselves and all those who serve, as the watchdogs and yes even the guardians of freedom. If need be, we also are the point of the spear of “Force Projection”.
Unfortunately force does become necessary as we all know. We also think of it as the barrier to give people like yourselves and ‘celebrities’ like Ann Coulter the time to foster the open well mannered debate that hopefully will reach the compromise we all seek.
Now part of the attitude is that although we as a nation allow people to migrate into America, we also realize that our openness is an open door to our enemies. Therefore, we watch, and we mistrust, whether rightly or wrongly, to see if the migrant is an honest, wanting a better life immigrant, or here under false colors and means to do us and our way of life, our families and friends harm. In other words, there is a bit of the “guilty until proven innocent”.
I do not apologize for that. It is my country, and I swore an oath to defend her. Yes, I know that in today’s society, there are those that think of people who still regard their word of honor as binding and a noble cause, as anachronistic. So be it. We try to do it in an unobtrusive manner. And I would hope that we are honest enough that if one has proven to be the person we hope, i.e. an American, then the cloud of mistrust is removed. But this is an individual reward, not a blanket. Not all illegal aliens are bad people, but they are not all good either. I cannot yet say with any belief that there are any good muslims. I have seen no proof of anything other than the words do not match the deeds. After watching the presentation of Obsession on Fox News the other night, I see (thankfully) I am not alone.
Many Muslim readers could question whether Jarhead is really open to what they may have to say. Yes, he is open. For example, he has acknowledged an appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Capt. Kahn and condemned the killing of Mrs. Ansari in dialogs that I have had with him. The manner of his questioning may be direct – but you expect that of a Marine. However, he reads this blog and other items and is a target audience for American Muslims desiring to spread the message that there are peace-loving, religiously tolerant sects, clerics, and practitioners within Islam.
Jarhead, fellow Conservatives, and I tend to shun the politically correct approaches to dealing with hard issues (e.g., unquestioning acceptance of all views and minimization of the impact of personal responsibility). We prefer that individuals be judged solely on the content of characters and the nature of specific actions. Therefore, Jarhead highlights points worth addressing.
Basically, the only Muslims that Jarhead has regularly dealt with were shooting at him or planting IEDs in his travel route. Furthermore, broadcasts focused on the Global War on Terror display the toxic beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists and the populations that support them (or seeming unable to free themselves from terror domination). I can see why he wishes to treat practitioners of that faith with some caution. However, he is open to judging the actions of American Muslims fairly. Therefore, I think it behooves American Muslims to seriously consider the perspective of Islam Questioning Conservatives.
Being involved in regular dialogs with Conservatives, I am aware of several matters that are genuinely concerning for members of the Rightosphere.
1) How much funding to American mosques is actually provided by anti-Western, sharia-promoting Wahhabis?
2) Are American mosques being filled with Islamic extremists?
3) Are American Muslims different from European Muslims? To be honest, the Anchoress, whose views I respect, shares the following concerns (after her completion of Mark Styen’s new book, America Alone):
Right now, Europe is gone mad and is dying by its own hand. Unwilling to fight for itself, unwilling to breed, unwilling to give up on government dependence, Europe has looked around, realized that in 20 years she will be the conquest of ten million Mohammeds and she has decided to sit back and, like Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green, listen to pretty music and look at the pretty flowers as she dies.
Eurabia is dawning, and nothing about that fact promises progress or stability. On the contrary, Eurabia will bring with it Shari’a. Eurabia will bring the undoing of those human rights gained over the last century – you know, the ones we keep hearing George W. Bush is “stealing” from us.
These are just a very small sample of the weighty questions presented by Questioning Islamic Conservatives whose views I respect. I try to address them, but am limited by time and experience. This is why I could use the assistance of American Muslims of goodwill, who decry terror tactics and embrace religious tolerance. New approaches, insights, resources and actions to acquaint others like Jarhead with a different face of Islam can assist us all in the Global War on Terror. Muslim populations tend to concentrate in specific, urban locales – the Internet and its information transmission is critical as a means for American Muslims of good faith to show another side of Islam to Jarhead and other Americans who won’t typically meet Muslims in the neighborhood market.
To fair to Islam Questioning Conservatives, it can be hard to discern the voice of Humanist Muslims. For example, American Muslim essayist Ali Eteraz, who is launching a new web community to promote the Humanist Muslim cause, is very unsatisfied with the level of productive and effective Muslim activism. He writes in History of AmeriMuslim Activism:
History of AmeriMuslim Activism:
A: We desperately need a mosque. I really think our children are lost without a mosque.
B: Who will populate this mosque?
A: You and the children, of course.
B: And you?
A: I am a doctor.
A: I really love those Palestinians. I really rage at seeing their suffering. I will not rest till they are free.
B: You are aware that other people suffer as well?
A: Yes, but they can’t get me on TV.
A: We are the new Jews. Can I get some pity please?
B: You sir are an anti-Semite. Can I get on TV now.
I would encourage fellow Americans who follow Islam to reach out to Islam Questioning Conservatives. For example, brave some of the sites on the Rightosphere and attempt to engage in respectful dialog and demonstrate your presence. While it may be difficult to ignore the slings and arrows of insults shot by anti-Islam extremists, rational Muslims (who can retain composure) may be able to connect with someone with genuine concerns and open-mindedness — in other words, an Islam Questioning Conservative. That Conservative American might actually be willing to engage in meaningful exchange and consider source materials not authored by Jiahd Watch members.
I assert that to embrace blind, anti-Muslim rage is to play right into the hands of Islamic terrorists. Americans, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, must develop effective methods for promoting the message of Humanist Muslims and encouraging their views to prevail globally. I believe we are at the incipent stages of such planning.
Jarhead is the warrior; I am the diplomat. However, we are both fair minded people and relish the American principals of individual liberties and responsibilities. In the next week or so, I will be posting queries I have previously received from Islam Questioning Conservatives. Sometimes, we move forward best with small steps. Such dialog will hopefully give Jarhead and others like himself a new, positive experience members of the American Islamic community.
In conclusion, I would like to demonstrate how to distinguish between an anti-Islam extremist and an Islam Questioning Conservative for the benefit of my readers. As an example, here are two different types of dialogs reviewing the Alia Ansari murder I have experienced:
Anti-Islam Extremist:You’re a stupid moselem apologist. Their filthy religion is nothing more then a death cult, and this was probably an honor killing. Good riddence, as it means that there is one less moselem spy spewing taqqiya. Haven’t you ever heard of “dhimmi”, you liberal moron?
Islam Questioning Conservative: While I am with you on catching this murderer and giving that person the maximum penalty allowed by law; I am not with you on the other. When Christian/Jews/Buddhists commit violence it usually is despite the fact that they are Christian/Jews/Buddhists, there just exists a level of violence which comes around since we are all flawed humans. However there is a much heightened level of violence in the muslim world and in countries (France, where hundreds of cars are burned every night by Moslems) because of Islam, in the name of Islam, and to further Islam. Just the facts, Ma’am.
Clearly, one group has the potential and ability to hear the message of terror-despising, religiously tolerant fellow Americans who follow Islam. Humanist Muslims must devise ways to reach them.