A couple of weeks ago, on the occasion of the annual hajj, in which 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims fulfill their obligation to travel to Mecca, prominent Muslim clerics from Asia, Africa, and Europe, along with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq denounced violence in the name of Islam and issued a manifesto, signed by all, declaring that "murder of innocents is never justified and violates the teachings of Islam."
If you haven't heard about this, it's because it never happened. I conjured it to clarify the nature of the problem. Well-intentioned non-Muslims never tire of asserting that Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims themselves are a lot less forthright. (The Council on American-Islamic Relations has issued formal denunciations of terrorism, but coming from an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing case, such pious declarations are worthless.)
Still, before considering the response to the latest outrage perpetrated by a jihadi convinced that mass murdering Americans gathered to light the Portland, Ore., Christmas tree would land him in Paradise, it's important to pause and notice that while Muslim leaders leave a lot to be desired, average Muslims are heroes in this story.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI was alerted to 19-year-old Somali-born Mohamed Osman Mohamud's increasing radicalization by someone who knew him well. Other sources suggest that Mohamud had quarreled with his family and felt "betrayed" that they did not support his violent ambitions. Reading between the lines, it seems likely that one or both parents (both of whom, by the way, are described as loving America) alerted the FBI.
Further, the elaborate sting orchestrated by the FBI had to involve agents posing as Islamic radicals. I'm guessing here, but it seems unlikely that the agents were non-Muslims. There are probably too many subtle things a non-Muslim would get wrong. So kudos to whoever tipped the FBI to the danger, and to the (presumably) Muslim agents who saw the thing to fruition and arrest.
On the other hand, those Americans who think that respecting the majority of non-violent Muslims requires a mealy-mouthed denial of reality are doing no one any favors.
Some criminal lit a fire at a Corvallis, Ore., mosque a day or so after Mohamud's arrest. This elicited a scolding declaration from the U.S. Attorney, Dwight Holton. Did he denounce the resort to violence by anyone? No. He intoned, "The fact is that violent extremists come from all religions and no religion at all. For one person to blame a group, if that's what happened here, is uniquely anti-American and will be pursued with the full force of the Justice Department."