Saturday, August 14, 2010

"True" religion and violence

I agree with most of President Obama's Iftar dinner speech last night, but not all of it. At one point, the President claims:
Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam—it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders—these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children.
What is al Qaeda's cause? Presumably, according to the President, it is "nihilism." Nonsense. One of the great modern myths shared by the left and the center is that there is a dichotomy between "true" religion and violence, such that people who commit violent acts, no matter how obviously religious they are, cannot really count as religious at all. This is practically the mirror image of the myth on the right that "true" Islam is evil, so that special burdens can be justifiably placed on all those who would worship in a mosque.
The President was right to come to the defense of embattled American Muslims like Sharjeel Kashmir, who writes:
The day before the World Trade Center bombings, America was my home. The next day, I woke up a stranger in a strange land. I wish every American could understand that I am not the enemy.
What the President ought not to have done was to try to define Islamic terrorism out of existence. Steering away from Scylla, he plunged right into the gaping maw of Charybdis.

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