– By Robert Scott –
In Paris, radical Islamic terrorists, almost all of them born and raised in Europe, killed 128 innocent people just under a month ago. The subsequent investigation, still in progress, indicated that this horrendous act was planned and orchestrated by what passes for the central authorities of ISIS, back in Syria. This past week, a Muslim couple living in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 innocent people and injured 21 more, who were for the most part the husband’s co-workers. The investigation has just begun, but indications are this act was not centrally orchestrated but rather was the act of just these two, perhaps emulating the Paris attack but only indirectly, if at all, tied to ISIS. That the perpetrators were following what they themselves thought to be the tenets of Islam has many in America wondering, is this what Islam is all about? Is the religion of Islam, after all, a 14-century old movement whose goal is world domination, imposing Sharia law worldwide, and killing all those who oppose it?
Let us consider another terrorist act, closer to home. In June of this year, a white Christian in the same age group as these Islamic terrorists entered Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston and murdered nine innocent people. His goal was to foment a race war, and his ideology was radical white Christian supremacy. In his mind, he was acting on behalf of his race, of his people. But Charleston, and in particular the families and survivors at Mother Emanuel, would not let him get away with that – they saw his claimed ideology for what it was, a perverted sense of religion, of nationalism, of racialism. He was not credited by anybody save the very small minority who might have agreed with him, with representing white Christian America in his actions. His was the act of a deranged murderer.
There are over three million Muslim Americans who see these Islamic terrorists as being no more representative of themselves nor of their religion than the majority in the United States see Dylan Roof as representative of white America. Just as crediting Dylan Roof as being a genuine representative of his misguided world view would be a horribly incorrect indictment of our society at large, so crediting these Muslim terrorists as representing the world view of Islam is equally and horribly incorrect.
There are many now coming to the fore, selling books or (worse) selling politics, who loudly dispute the notion that Islam is truly represented by the majority of those three million patriotic Muslim Americans. Instead, they prefer to tout their opinion that “true Islam” is personified by these terrorists – and, therefore, that true Islam is the enemy of America. In that argument, they are actually echoing the claims of ISIS itself. ISIS’s biggest enemy isn’t the West, it is their fellow Muslims. That truth is borne out by the millions of Muslims who are fleeing ISIS and what they see as a sick twisting of their faith.
Yes, there is a war of beliefs going on worldwide right now, but it is not between Islam and the West. It is a war between those few Muslims who believe that ISIS represents the true core of Islam, and those millions within Islam who repudiate ISIS, terrorism, and that violence that manifests itself much more frequently against fellow Muslims than against anybody else. As a society, we in America need to make sure on which of those two sides we agree to come down. American fear of Islam – Islamophobia – is one goal of ISIS. Helping the Muslim world to defeat ISIS must be our very important, but nevertheless secondary goal. The first goal must be to defeat the prejudice known as Islamophobia – and to support the vast majority of Muslims in our war – no, their war – against the perversion of Islam known as ISIS.