In sum, Islam was conceived as a political movement wedded to a religious faith. Mohammed envisioned Islamic political hegemony from the outset, and immediately organized his own army to pursue that vision. Yes, the founder of the religion of peace led his own army and waged bloody, violent wars against those who would oppose his own reign. Most Americans should know that, but clearly, we do not.
Mohammed's vision extended worldwide, or to as much of the world as he understood at the time. Global political hegemony and domination. Force used to achieve it and to enforce it. Conversion by coercion or force. These themes run continually throughout the history of Islam. Jihadism took root in full force (no pun intended) several centuries after Mohammed, and the notion has continued unabated in a variety of ways ever since.
Most Americans immediately divert the argument at this point to note the sins of other religions. One emailer even suggested to me that the Catholic Church treats women far worse than Islam. We shall save that laughable argument for another day. My point: this is not to absolve other religions from their failures; however, one simply cannot deny that no other religious founder endorsed and used violent conquest in the ways utilized by Mohammed. When the founder beheads those who oppose him, that says something about a faith's core DNA. Religious tolerance and freedom are marginal at best to the Islamic world view. Witness the use of the death penalty still today in many, if not most, Islamic nations for those humans accused of practicing other faiths or merely carrying Bibles.
Most Americans do not ignore this. They simply do not know it at all. When the Western world deals with Islam (and it is important to distinguish between Islam and individual Muslims, many of whom do not emulate their founder in his lifestyle choices), the West needs to understand plainly that the equality of women, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, simply do not belong in the Islamic world-view. That cannot be changed from without. If Islam is going to change, it must come from within.
However, signs of change from within Islam arrive rarely. They do arrive as in the growing abandonment of the faith by European Islamic intellectuals as they receive access to unabridged biographies of Mohammed. Those abandonments pale in comparison to the vociferous apologies and blind endorsements of the leaders like Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for CAIR, who insists that “99.99% of Muslims will live and die without coming near an act of violence.” Hooper would have us believe that violence and intolerance are tangential and marginal to the Islamic world. His advocacy lacks honesty and self-awareness.
The absurdity of his argument can be revealed through basic math. If 1.2 billion of the world's people are Muslims, then .01% of that figure would be 120,000. So Hooper insists that only 120,000 Muslims will ever “come near an act of violence”? One need only witness the angry mobs in the streets of Denmark, and elsewhere, upon the publishing of cartoons of Mohammed to note that more than 120,000 persons participated in those angry demonstrations that resulted in the deaths of 200 people worldwide. After tallying Muslim participation in just that one violent event, we have already exceeded Mr. Hooper's all-encompassing statement of .01%. Perhaps Mr. Hooper should modify his argument if he wishes to persuade us honestly that violence is an aberration for Muslims.
We Americans dwell in our ignorance at our own peril. Witness the growing evidence: Yale Press' fearful and cowardly removal of Mohammed cartoons from a book about Mohammed cartoons; the seven dead Muslim women in a morgue in Ontario after their being killed for honor in the last two months; the disappearance of dozens of Somali-Americans headed for terror training camps in the Middle East; and the convictions of both American college students and released American inmates for terror complicity. The evidence reminds us that we are dealing with Islam as if it were just any other religion when it is not.
In order to deal with a problem, you first have to understand the problem. Ignorance is not a strategy.