It hasn’t been pretty watching the political culture of the United States beat itself senseless over the cruel realities of Islamic terrorism for the past thirteen years. If the beginning of this process was the Bush Administration’s “Religion of Peace” rhetoric, the darkly comical endgame is Barack Obama lecturing the Islamic State for not being Islamic.
“ISIL is not ‘Islamic,’” Obama said in his speech last week. “No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”
You can see what he’s trying to do there: interfere with the use of religion for recruiting purposes what he insists on calling “ISIL,” rally other Muslim states against them, and signal to other Muslims that the United States is not at war with their religion. He’s quite right about how many of ISIS’ victims have been Muslims who practiced the “wrong” brand of Islam.
But it’s curious for a man who is invariably portrayed in the media as a brilliant and learned academic to claim “no religion condones the killing of innocents,” when of course some of them do, most obviously the virulent brand of Islam practiced by various head-chopping enthusiasts. ISIS did not invent the practice, after all. The number of people who believe in the militant and aggressive form of Islam is distressingly large. If it really was just a “tiny minority of extremists,” it would be easier to claim they aren’t practicing any form of legitimate religion. But it’s not. That formulation simply is not true, and I don’t know that we’re doing “moderate Islam” any favors by underselling the magnitude of the challenge they face.
Not that “moderate Islam” seems terribly eager to fight for the reformation of its religion. If the moderates were ever going to clear their throats, stand up tall, and denounce all of the horrible acts justified with references to the Koran, now would be a perfect time, because the Islamic State …read more