The normalisation of the Western response to Islamic terrorism has arrive at such a state of cognitive dissonance and muddled morality that we expect and see automatic messages of solidarity after every latest terror attack — sympathy not for the victims but for Islam. Think #illridewithyou, for example. As an ex-Muslim who fiercely advocated for the Religion of Peace while trying to absolve my beloved Islam of all responsibility, let me admit that I also hid behind this veil of obfuscation.
Know that I have opposed bigotry and baseless hate towards the Muslims community my entire life, and that I will always do so. As a law student, protecting the rights of individuals is of paramount importance to me, and I cannot stress this enough. However, this does not equate to the automatic and mindless defence of Islamic doctrine.
The political correctness movement, which dominates and restricts “acceptable” Western public responses to terror, has produced a dangerous and delusional conflation: the belief that protecting Muslims and protecting Islam are inherently the same thing. The generic “not all Muslims are terrorists” is a staple of social media posts and mainstream media commentary after every latest replay of 9/11, 7/7, Nice, Paris, Manchester, London….
Asserting the obvious, that only a relative few Muslims are prepared to visit terror and death upon unbelievers, tells us nothing of value. A more useful response would be “only idiots think all Muslims are terrorists, but it requires a much bigger idiot to believe there is no link between Islam and terrorism.”
The distinction between protecting people (Muslims) and protecting Islam (an ideology) must be made and addressed by politicians and commentators if there is to be any resistance to Islamism. Instead we see the coddling of Islam which plagues all discussion and dominates the West’s public stage. Rather than protecting Muslims this attitude serves only to shield Islamist doctrine from the scrutiny and response it deserves.
The depiction of a terrorist is a peculiar thing. The media, Muslims, apologists and politicians alike approach terrorism as some offshoot ideology, as if terrorists are spawned in a vacuum. I say this not to tarnish the image of the general Muslim community but to illustrate how the West scrambles to divorce terrorism from a religious motivation, the considerate goal being to ensuring Muslim feelings aren’t hurt. Rather than venturing to uncover the truth about Islamic teachings, the regressive left instead treats Islam as a cultural construct in which extremist elements can be eradicated by cradling and coddling.
The unrecognised truth — a truth those comfortable nostrums will not permit to be recognised — is that Islam does not subscribe to the same moral principles which shaped and govern Western civilisation and, therefore, is non-responsive to such an approach. Vital to bear in mind is that Islam differs fundamentally from most religions in that it does not call for the peaceful interaction of diverse and tolerant humanity; rather, it is a political ideology whose advocacy of “peace” translates as global domination. When the world submits, then peace will reign and not before.
A five-minute reading of the Koran should suffice to illustrate the Islam’s supremacist philosophy and ambitions, yet we are told to dismiss those violent, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments as misinterpretations. This stifling of dialogue and any proper critique of the doctrines results in a viciously self-enforcing cycle of denial and the subverting of any productive approach to tackling the issue. The pronounced and deeply disturbing depiction of non-believers in the Quran — the kuffar — is freighted with supremacist connotations, not least in the repeated emphasis on non-Muslims’ perversion of the truth and their distance from the “true” morality as outlined by Muhammad. This dangerous concoction of ideas is reinforced by the precept that all humans are in fact born Muslims (even if they don’t know it), and non-believers are simply those who have strayed from Allah’s word, never been exposed to it or mulishly reject it. Can there be any surprise in noting how these dangerous undertones facilitate extremist interpretations that animate so many terrorists?
What is the solution? Muslims must themselves reform their interpretation of their sacred texts, starting with the Koran’s justifications for violence and bigotry. This is particularly difficult, as Islam cleverly immunizes itself from any form of criticism and equates the slightest divergence with heresy, the penalty for which is death. Consequently, we are left with a robust ideology far more resistant to reform and critique than its Abrahamic cousin, Christianity.
Further exacerbating this problem is the so-called “progressive” Left’s name-calling and its choking of dialogue. If the irony of that stance is recognised, apologists go to great lengths not to mention it, which is understandable: it would require a superhuman hypocrisy to howl down Islam’s critics as fascist peddlers of intolerance while simultaneously defending an ideology that is itself inherently totalitarian in nature. Meanwhile, Islam’s ardent element deals brutally with criticism and dissent, as the spack-filled bullet holes in the walls of the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris attest. That massacre and others prompted celebration in Muslim communities across the world. Political agendas, foreign policy, proxy wars and many more valid points are raised as factors contributing to extremism and shaping the broad geography of malaise that is the Middle East; none of this, however, absolves Islam of enshrining violence and hate as key instruments in the propagation of its faith.
But, hey, the Muslim guy at work seems cool, so Islam can’t be that bad, right? This goes back to the issue of cognitive dissonance within the Muslim community. Liberal-minded and educated Muslims cherry-pick and isolate sections of the Koran which align with their democratic values, ignoring the divisive and hateful rhetoric. To the eyes of non-Muslims, the temptation to indulge in confirmation bias is irresistible. Religion has lost much of its influence in the daily life of the West, so the assumption is that dogma and belief must play as minor a role in the Islamic mind. Further to that, there is the blithe and presiding assumption that all humans are inherently good, and that all religions seek to eschew violence. Clearly, in the case of one problematic creed, this is is not the case.
Hence, I return to my point: Muslims do not deserve to be demonized, but Islamic doctrine must be analysed objectively and critiqued for what it is. Without political leaders taking the lead in this matter, terrorists and their enablers are have a free pass to continue waging jihad. No number of bouquets, toy bears, candles and renditions of Imagine will ever change that.