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National Review: Religious Extremism by Any Other Name

9

The Geller Report has noted the left’s insistence that crimes with no Islamic motivation be labeled as “terrorism.” The desire to distance acts of jihad from the religion of Islam reflects either an ignorance of the literal interpretations of Islam or an intentional desire to deny the truth of what literal Islam says. In the wake of the New York City Halloween jihad truck attack, Mona Charen at the National Review ponders why, all these years after September 11, 2001, “The Left seems blind to the link between ideology and violence.

[T]he Left suffers from a crippling blindness about the link between ideology and violence. Oh, they can see it well enough when the ideology is white supremacism. And in their fevered imaginations, they saw even mild Tea Party protesters as a dire threat. On college campuses, activists conflate speech they don’t like with violence. “Hate speech is violence,” they say. But what they cannot process is that ideas rule the world, and given the powerful human inclination toward cruelty, ideologies that justify violence are deeply malignant.

The New York attacker apparently entered this country in 2010 and over the past several years became radicalized by ISIS propaganda he watched online. His phone reportedly contained 90 videos including instructions for bomb making, and pictures of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. If this man (I try to avoid naming mass killers in this column) had been a recent convert to Buddhism or Christianity, his religious convictions would have been a matter of zero interest to anyone but him because those religions do not justify mass killing. Yes, Christianity once did justify holy war. And when it did, it was dangerous. My Jewish ancestors, pillaged and killed by Crusaders, would attest to that if they could. But it hasn’t been the regnant ideology of Christianity for more than 700 years. That doesn’t mean some Christians don’t still commit crimes in the name of faith, but those who do — killing abortionists, for example — are extremely rare.

People love violence but also want to believe in their own virtue. That’s why ends-justify-the-means ideologies are so dangerous. The Communists taught that they were inaugurating a new and more benevolent world, and if some kulaks and bourgeois capitalists were liquidated in the process, it was all in a good cause. The Nazis promised that they were purifying humanity — eliminating the pollution. There is nothing so liberating to the sadists among us than to be offered the fig leaf of good intentions.

So too with Islamism. It differs from the religion of Islam in its conspiracy-mongering, its belief that sharia law should prevail, and its thirst for martyrdom. It promises the monsters among us that they are doing nothing less than God’s will by acting out their most vicious fantasies. If all of the world’s more than one billion Muslims were Islamists, there would no peace anywhere on the planet. In fact, according to estimates by Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, only about 10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide are radicals. Some two-thirds of Muslims in Nigeria and Lebanon, for example, say that they are very concerned about Islamic extremism in their own countries — which suggests that at least that many, and probably more, are not extremists themselves.

That’s still leaves room for a hundred million Islamists or tolerators of Islamism. Most, thank God, will never become suicide bombers or truck killers — the latest jihadi craze, as recent attacks in Nice, London, and New York illustrate. It is not bigotry to notice that the virus of extreme religious intolerance is virulent in Islam today.

Follow ‘Grizzly Joe’ on Twitter @OccupyBawlStree

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