I've studied Islam and the Arab world and the politics of the region for more than 25 years. I've wanted to have a conversation, to dispel the myths, to separate fact from fiction for a very long time, and I've searched for just the right tone that would foster an intellectual, productive conversation. While I am still willing to have that conversation, I finally understand that it is academic and divorced from the real-world politics and day to day realities we face on all sides of this issue. We here in the West can be willing to have considered, sane and rational conversation all we want, but without equally sane counterparts on the other side, without the ability to affect those who are rioting before thinking, following before seeing and rampaging for the sake of being destructive, it is a pointless and fruitless exercise.
Since the attacks on our Embassies and personnel, I’ve seriously debated the wisdom of speaking out as I had planned. My desire to do a measured, intellectual piece asking the Muslim world why they tolerate the extremists bastardizing their religion would just as likely be taken as an attack as it would as a request for dialogue. I wanted to know, as does most of the West, if their silence is out of intimidation, fear of being called a traitor to their faith, fear of the backlash of the extremists, or if it is because they don’t really disagree with the message and only mildly object to the methods of their extremist brethren.
After the MidEast, North Africa and various spots around the world exploded in mayhem, ostensibly in response to a contrived, fruitcake and really, really silly fake film trailer, my husband and I had a serious conversation. What that came down to was a discussion of the wisdom of standing up and being seen as a potential target for these fanatics. In other words, it
I almost caved in to the fears that these extremists are desperate to inculcate in all of the world. I was wondering about the feelings of the supposed Moderate Muslims, wondering if their silence in the face of those who portray their religion as the worst of human nature, the basest of human desires for control and subjugation of the world are their true reflections of their beliefs or if they are silent out of fear, and here I was contemplating silence out of those same fears.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to know and further, don’t care if the Moderate Muslim is a myth; I don’t care if the majority of Muslims are afraid of their extremist brethren and therefore remain silent. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only response to these fanatics as well as to those who claim to be Muslim yet do not defend their own religion from the extremists is to speak out, loudly, clearly and often. I will not submit, which is the single most defining admonition of Islam - Submit. Perhaps that tenet explains much of the silence, but again, I no longer care.
What brought about this change in heart is a video, yes on YouTube. This guy says it all, says everything I want to say, and says it better than I ever could. Yes, he is over the top, his rhetoric is harsh, the way he makes his points is anything but politically correct. But, that is part of the point. We have twisted ourselves into pretzels in an attempt to be considerate, politically correct and tolerant of an expression of a faith that does not understand, recognize or uphold any of those virtues. And what has it gotten us? More violence, more rioting, more demands that it is our problem, this intolerance and lack of respect, to fix. It’s time to lay it all out, tell it like it is and demand that those screaming for tolerance show it first; that those demanding their beliefs be respected respect everyone else’s right not to agree with their beliefs.
Let the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani and every other extremist leader get ahold of this video and play it for their followers. There is great truth here that they should heed, but we all know they won’t. There is also great truth here for all of us, the rest of the world, the civilized world. Now, all we have to do is get our leaders here in the West to accept and understand this is the will of the people, the will of the future of mankind, and the only needed response to the fanatics. I can’t imagine how much simpler our foreign policy would be if we took this position as the basis for all our decisions. And how much money we would not waste trying to bring the uncivilized into the fold of the civilized world.