Mary Katharine Ham

Welcome, Hot Air readers! I got all blabby at the top, here, but the video's below. Scroll a bit.

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere over the last couple of days about whether some conservatives think and speak and write as if we are at war with the entire religion of Islam.

Michelle Malkin was the target of the original accusations, which came from Dean Esmay and called on Malkin to "start making a distinction between Muslims who hate us and want to kill us, and Muslims who believe in freedom, democracy, and religious tolerance?"

Michelle is a fiery writer who recognizes the dangers of sharia law and dhimmitude and the oppressive elements of the Koran and doesn't shy away from saying it. That does not mean she cannot also respect our Muslim allies, but she makes her case plenty well in the link above. The same is true of many other fiery, conservative writers who speak frankly and sometimes angrily about the radical elements of Islam without ignoring the fact that Islam does, in fact, inform them.

Since the conversation began, many others have joined the discussion, both on Michelle's side and not. It's actually become a rather pleasant debate over whether tenets of the Muslim religion make it incompatible with liberal democracy, individual freedom, etc., no thanks to its inauspicious beginnings.

My thoughts on the argument at hand are below the jump, but my point in writing this is to introduce you to another ally in the fight for Western civilization. Her tone is fiery and she's not overly worried about offending radical Muslims, mostly because they bombed her home in Lebanon, leaving her trapped under the rubble as a 9-year-old girl. She spent two months in a hospital and much of her adolescence in a bomb shelter because people wanted her dead because of her faith.

Her name is Brigitte Gabriel, and she's a Lebanese journalist who grew up a Christian in the Middle East. She has written the book, "Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America." I get the feeling she is unconcerned about whether folks think she sufficiently hedges her critiques of radical Islam and surrounds them with caveats and P.C. phrases for the religion of peace. Why? Because she believes the risk is too great for the West to mince words and unwittingly end up facing an enemy we never understood.

This clip is nine minutes long, but it's worth it-- partly because it's my first adventure in video editing and it took me several hours, failures, and e-mails to Allah to get it done, but mostly because she's a great speaker.

Gabriel was asked the same question Esmay asked Michelle this week, though much more politely, at an event at The Heritage Foundation. Here are her answers (watch your volume; she gets riled):

The whole speech is at this link. About an hour long and awesome.

[# More #] As for me, I think the actual disagreement isn't nearly as bad as the rhetoric Esmay used to point it out. In going all ballistic on Michelle, he went well beyond the very tone he was accusing Michelle of wrongly using on our Muslim allies. Um, Dean, meet your ally in the fight for Western civilization. Her name is Michelle. She should be treated with the same respect you ask her to afford allied Muslims.

But on the argument itself, do some conservative writers fail to draw a distinction between radical Islam and Islam? None that I read do that. What they do is explicitly connect the radical Islamofascists and the religion that influences them. They examine that religion, the law it inspires, and the terrorism it breeds. They challenge moderate Muslims to speak out against the bad parts, reclaim the religion they say has been hijacked, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with American Christians and Jews in a fight against the hijackers.

And, it is a challenge. It sounds as if Esmay and others would like us to ask more nicely, to avoid insult even when the truth is all a trigger it requires. Well, we've spent five years since 9/11 being nice, shrinking at every possible offense, and being wrist-slapped for largely non-existent backlash and discrimination against Muslims. We have asked nicely, and we still haven't heard a lot from moderate Muslims in our country. It still appears that Muslims among us show up in greater numbers at pro-Hezbollah rallies than at anti-terrorism rallies.

Does that not warrant a little tougher tone, and mightn't a tougher tone serve to embolden truly moderate Muslims who are afraid to speak? Why not issue challenges instead of pleas? Because it stirs the pot? That's the argument some made about reprinting the Danish cartoons. What does it accomplish, they asked? Aren't we pushing moderate Muslims farther away from us?

If 35 years of terrorism in the name of your religion and five years since 9/11 of the world trying to understand the root causes of said terrorism hasn't made you want to stand up and call out those who have co-opted your faith for murder, then it is not a slate of editorial cartoons that prevented you from being an ally. That decision was made long ago. As Jeff Foxworthy would say, "you might not be a moderate Muslim if..."

If we predicate our editorial decisions on what will anger the folks in the above paragraph, haven't we already forfeited that freedom? We can say all we want that we're making the decision, that we're simply exercising restraint because we don't want to stoke the coals, but the fact remains that the criteria for pulling editorial content is someone else's reaction, not our own news judgement. There is much to be said for kindness, moderation of tone, level-headed debate, and respect. I like all of them. There's also much to be said for making a stand, speaking the truth, and being fed up to here with the fact that moderate Muslims aren't saying more and grabbing the reins of their religion back from the devil's coachmen.

The two can co-exist, and often do on conservative blogs. (Read that whole link for a great take on the situation.)

I can't help but think that the blurred distinction between radical Islam and Islam that Dean Esmay is bemoaning in some conservatives' writing would become much clearer if moderate Muslims made it their business to make it clear. Members of a faith have some responsibility to draw the bright line between themselves and the faith's extremists. If I were a Christian who never bothered to denounce religiously motivated abortion-clinic bombings, and instead complained about the tone of those who did condemn them, wouldn't you start to wonder about me? And, wouldn't you be warranted in wondering?


 

 


Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of HotAir.com, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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