As Muslim extremists were burning churches in the Mideast and Muslim religious and political leaders around the world were condemning the Pope for the “hatred” in his heart and warning all who would listen that his apologies don’t much matter and cannot in themselves do much to dampen the anger that has led to the latest wave of anti-Christian violence in the Muslim world, America’s largest Muslim organization was examining the question of what constitutes a “moderate” Muslim.
The discussion, as reported by the Los Angeles Times and other publications, seemed to center on whether one can be anti-Israel and still be considered a moderate Muslim with both Muslim and non-Muslim commentators focusing on this as a defining characterization of “moderation.”
With all due respect to both sides in that debate, it is not one’s views on this or any other specific issue that defines moderation. It is rather what one is willing or feels justified in doing to advance his or her view or stop others from advancing theirs.
Moderates do not send their kids off to become martyrs or dedicate themselves to the death of peoples they don’t like. A moderate would be perfectly justified in taking exception to Pope Benedict’s comments, for example, but would caution against and condemn violence as an appropriate reaction to those comments.
Since 9/11, more and more courageous Muslims have begun to stand up to the lunatics in their midst, but too many have refused to do so or looked with detachment on the activities their crazier co-religionists.
I have written in the past of the need to avoid stereotyping and the foolishness of equating the fanaticism of Osama’s Islamo-fascists with the beliefs and desires of the millions upon millions of Muslims the world over who want like the rest of us to live their lives in peace, earn a living and to build a better world for their children and grandchildren. We owe these people our support and our friendship, but they owe it to themselves and us to stand up to the fanatics in their world who would hijack their religion and use it for their own purposes lest we take their silence for support.
David A. Keene is the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a managing associate with the Carmen Group, a Washington, D.C.-based governmental-affairs firm.
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