Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not only "moderate," but apparently "radical" Islam is not all that bad

Based on this "open-minded" op-ed, apparently "liberal" thinkers are no longer content with separating Islam from "radical" Islam: now, we are told, radical Islam itself is "not monolithic," and that there are perhaps some nuanced forms of "radical Islam" that are infidel-friendly. Extremist Movie Influences Election," by Tim Fernholz, for the American Prospect, September 24:

Obsession, a controversial movie about terrorism funded by a right-wing organization, is now being distributed in swing-states to perhaps millions of voters. Muslim groups are calling for an investigation to determine if this is being done to influence the election. Short answer: It probably is. I've only seen the first ten minutes of the movie (which is also available on YouTube), and from what I've seen the critics are right: it's drivel. I'm not sure yet that it's anti-Muslim, per se, as it begins with a disclaimer that most Muslims are not terrorists (doye!). But that same disclaimer might be an example of them protesting too much -- without the disclaimer I'd certainly characterize the film as anti-Muslim. What I can say for certain is that the movie is obviously designed to increase people's fear and fill their heads with wrong ideas about how to fight terror.

The film, such that I've seen, combines slow-mo footage of terrorist attacks and chanting terrorists with terrible analysis.

For instance, it conflates every vaguely related radical Islamist terrorist attack into one unitary war -- suggesting, for instance, the Beslan massacre in Russia was somehow connected to 9/11. And I thought we'd gotten past the idiotic monolithic theory of terrorism. Apparently the film goes on to suggest the roots of Islamic extremism lie in Nazi ideology, which is just completely wrong; if Nazism did have a tangible influence on radical Islamists it was negligible at best.

Here's what we need to know: Radical Islam is not monolithic. It is not a clear and existential threat to the future of the United States of America. It is a threat to our interests and to our allies abroad. We need to engage with radical Islam and defeat it, but we need to do so in a way that doesn't alienate the billion Muslims in the world, or rather, that unites Muslims and the rest of the world to fight against a pernicious ideology that we all despise. My radical belief is this: We shouldn't fear radical Islam. We should take it seriously. The U.S. and its allies have the tools to defeat the practitioners of terror, and we will. Engaging in fear-mongering to win an election isn't just unfortunate, it is a set back in the real fight against radical Islamist ideologies.

--Tim Fernholz

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