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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Answers for Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is fed up with Muslims in the wake of the Russian schhol massacre:

With the psychopathic cruelty at a Russian elementary school, have we reached the point where people of goodwill can ask serious questions about Muslims and Islam? Or are any challenging questions still to be dismissed as "Muslim bashing" or, even more absurdly, "racist," as if religion were a race?

The truth is that everyone with a conscience has questions about Muslims and Islam. But the most powerful religion in America, the religion of tolerance, has rendered it almost impossible to ask any such questions. Most people are so afraid of being branded intolerant that the most natural and goodhearted questions are only posed by the handful who have the courage to do so (usually conservative Christians).

Who knew that conservative Christians were actually the most courageous Americans?

At the end, Prager has a few questions for folks like me:

And while posing questions, here are two for liberals: Why are almost the only people asking these questions aloud conservative and religious? Where are you when it comes to acknowledging evil?

1) You'll ultimately have to ask the conservative and religious people for their thoughts on this one, though I can offer my guesses about what motivations they may have: evangelism, self-righteousness, eschatology, and other generally unsavory things.

2) I see no point in ranting on about how the perpetrators of terrorist atrocities are "evil." That does not seem overly useful in solving the actual problem (it is useful, however, in using as a club against your political opponents for not standing up strongly enough against external enemies). Painting with overly broad strokes about religious groups doesn't much help either; such an approach fails to focus on those particular people within Islam who are responsible for atrocities, and success requires isolating such particularities when Islam has a billion adherents worldwide. Furthermore, a response that is targeted against "Islam" risks inflaming the much larger segment of moderate Muslims who would not otherwise hate America or resort to terrorism.

Some people who haven't shied away from calling Islam evil are Billy Graham's son and General William Boykin. I think fostering an attitude among the American public that Islam is evil on the whole is a bad idea also because at worst it can make the American public insensitive to the deaths of innocent Muslims in our wars ostensibly aimed at stamping out terrorism (as has been the case with civilian deaths in Iraq).

MORE: Forgot to link to this post--see the first two comments.

Ginning up US sentiment against Muslims isn't exactly needed right now, with incidents like this one forming a disturbing pattern. If you still feel like expressing your anger, though, you've got plenty of company on the web.