Which leaves us exactly where? Left to wonder why the Islamic advocacy groups in the United States fail to rejoice in a successful government sting operation against what certainly appears to be an unholy holy man who gives Islam a bad name. And we're left to wonder why Islamic moderates remain incapable of bringing off a good old-fashioned schism to divide their peaceable selves from their violent-minded co-religionists. Do such moderates attend the Dallas Central Mosque, where a fund-raiser for five brothers charged with doing business with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas was held last month? How about the Islamic Center of Greater Cleveland, where mosque officials have decided to retain an imam linked by reports to the federal indictment against suspected Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian? One has uncomfortable questions, too, about the moderate views of worshippers at the Islamic Community of Tampa Bay, where Mr. Al-Arian remains imam and president.
But such questions aren't being entertained. Which brings us to the second news story, as promised above. It has to do with Lois McMahan, a bespectacled, pearl-necklace-wearing, Republican state representative who declined to take her seat in the Washington legislature this week until after Olympia imam Mohamad Joban finished opening the "session of the House of Representatives in the name of Allah...."
Why? Calling it an "issue of patriotism," she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "The Islamic religion is so ... part and parcel with the attack on America. I just didn't want to be there, be part of that. Even though the mainstream Islamic religion doesn't profess to hate America, nonetheless it spawns the groups that hate America." To Washington state's Sun newspaper, she said, "I'd die for their right to believe what they want to believe; that's America. But the Islamic leaders of this country have not been vocal enough about their criticism of the enemies of this country."
One news cycle later, Rep. McMahan was making headlines again, only this time to recant. "I apologize for offenses given and would like to ask for forgiveness to any whom I have offended," she said, addressing her colleagues from the legislature floor. And soon, she added, she would be delivering her apologies "personally" to the imam on an upcoming visit to his mosque.
What will she say? Something like, "I'm sorry for observing that certain Islamic groups hate America religiously"? Or, "I'm sorry for noticing that Islamic leaders have been tepid in their condemnations of terrorist organizations"? "I'm sorry for raising a serious concern in the hopes of fueling an honest exchange"?
I'm sorry, too.