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Is Fear of Blaming Islam Greater than a Need to Fight Terrorism?

Middle East and Terrorism scholar Barry Rubin points out that most current policy makers and opinion shapers prefer to avoid considering Islam as the motive for terrorism. The fear of short term pain is indulged at the expense of preventing the real danger that will follow. And we are being lied to - "albeit for virtuous reasons" - by the politicians and the mainstream press.


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Victim being treated after Boston marathon terror bomb blast.

Victim being treated after Boston marathon terror bomb blast.
Photo Credit: KTVU



But not everyone in America is so paralyzed by the syndrome of “naming Islam as a potential source of terrorism is greater than the terrorism itself” school of cowardice.

Rubin points to a 2011 Pew poll which shows that the American Muslim community sees there is a problem with Islamic-related terrorism, and they want it to be addressed!

According to Pew’s own analysis of the responses of Muslim Americans – and no one can suggest that Pew is a “right wing” political or religious bias – “there is extensive concern among Muslim Americans about Islamic extremism, both around the world and in the United States.”

The Pew results show that fully 60 percent of Muslim Americans are either very (31%) or somewhat (29%) concerned about the possible rise in Islamic extremism in the United States, and that percentage skyrockets to 73%  for the responses of only American-born Muslims.  Just as significant is the alarmingly high percentage (21%) of American Muslims who support extremism in their community.

And who is faulted for failing to address and counter Islamic extremism in the United States? The Pew poll shows that well more than half (59%) of American-born Muslims believe Muslim leaders have not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremism.

Imagine, those who would be most directly affected by the feared backlash want what the benevolent but clearly misguided leaders seek to avoid, and they are the ones who are in the best position to know that, in fact, it is a big problem. Not only that, but that same group – American Muslims – implore their own leadership to address the problem.

Why don’t the Muslim leaders act?  Rubin says it is because “many of them are themselves Islamists who are actively indoctrinating young Muslims in the ideological arguments favoring radicalism and violence.”

Failing to do what the community most directly involved wants makes no sense. “That,” Rubin says, “is not only bad foreign policy it is also dangerous for domestic security.”

Rubin writes:

having followed this issue for many years, I have never heard of a single anti-radicalization program conducted by any mosque or “mainstream” Islamic group. Real [Muslim] moderates are isolated, vilified, denied media attention and even forced out of local mosques.

And in talking to The Jewish Press, Rubin explains that the current narrative embraced by this U.S. administration, but also widely supported among the policy and opinion-making elite, is that by refusing to discuss the threat of radical interpretations of Islam and especially political Islamism means we don’t accurately look at current events and learn how to avoid future such events.  Instead, we try to explain away any unsavory possibilities so that America appears as a non-racist society.

Wow.  That’s big.  Let’s pretend there is no problem so we don’t look racist.  Kind of sounds like a doctor pretending her patient doesn’t have cancer so the patient doesn’t think she’s a bad doctor.  Except the patient wants to be healed, or at least more closely examined.

NEW THEORY: ISLAM MOTIVATED, BUT LONE WOLVES

And just in time to reinforce Rubin’s theory, news reports begin to circulate that seizes on a variant of one of Rubin’s theories.  This is one that is slightly different from the original “Islam had nothing to do with it.”

Based on initial interviews with the severely wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he and his brother were indeed motivated by a form of radical Islam, but they acted completely alone.  This works nicely with the Al Qaeda is the only evil I will recognize.

The media rushed to get out the story that the Tsarnaev brothers were lone wolves whose inspiration came solely from the Internet.  Dzohkar told officials that they had no guidance, direction, support or connection to any terrorists or terrorist groups.

Now the narrative is that these two Muslim brothers were infuriated by U.S. aggression against Islam, specifically by the killing of Muslims in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This is, of course, a non-religious reason, because although they acted as Muslims, their actions were not driven by any ideological Islam. These reports have been in the media outlets most likely to be repeated by all lesser outlets, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

This new narrative has the added advantage of including the “blame America” trope, because, surely, if not for the “unjust” wars, there would be no reason for there to be radicalized Muslims acting out in murderous ways against innocent Americans.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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