Last Monday on the Fox hit "24", President Wayne Palmer made the point that American Muslims are our best allies in this war against Islamic terrorism. He’s right, but you wouldn’t know it listening to the callers on my show last week. I’m still disturbed by the volume of criticism I got–especially from Christians–for merely suggesting something that seems so obvious to so many of us: that we are not at war against the religion of Islam, we are at war against radical Muslims.
Callers insisted I was wrong, repeating over and over again things like, "there is no such thing as moderate Islam, there are only moderate Muslims who don’t really understand Islam," that "real Islam, and therefore real Muslims, seek world domination, a 7th century caliphate under universal sharia law," and finally, that "a true Muslim believes all non-Muslims must either convert or die."
Could they be right? What would counter-evidence look like to defeat these claims? Let me offer a few suggestions.
1) There are tens of millions of Muslims and Christians (and Jews) who have lived peaceably alongside one another for centuries, and who still do today in many parts of the world. Is each Muslim secretly harboring the desire to blow up the local café? Does every Christian believe their Muslim neighbor is at war with him? Of course not. After all, it wasn’t Jews and Christians who were targeted on 911, or in London, Madrid, Bali, or Jakarta. It was simply civilians. Further-more, even if you grant the premise "we are at war with Islam," I must ask, “Who is the 'we?'"
2) Who is in a better position to explain the "true" teachings of Islam, a Muslim or a non-Muslim? Expecting a Mus-lim to defer to my interpretation of his religion is as sensible as me deferring to his interpretation of Christianity. Better to criticize the behavior of the practitioners of a religion than the religion itself. The "my religion is better than your relig-ion" contest can only lead to a cemented stalemate. Better to ask things like, "How has your religion made you a better person?" Or, "What are you willing to do to win converts to your religion?" This elevates the discourse to the realm of the natural moral law. Jesus taught you can always tell a tree by its fruit. Better to judge actions than to divine motives.