What is the connection between Islam and terrorism? Any answer you give will likely draw strident and intemperate criticism. If you say that there is a connection, you will be charged with Islamophobia. If you say that there is no connection and that terrorism has only political, social, and economic causes, then you will be castigated as a dupe who worships at the altar of political correctness. It is hard to articulate both a refusal to condemn the religion of 1.7 billion people and yet to hold responsible those elements, sects, or factions of Islam that preach a pernicious and poisonous doctrine. Today’s Houston Chronicle, carried an editorial by syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman that is the most satisfactory and eloquent expression of what needs to be said:
…year after year, we keep seeing young Muslim men drawing inspiration and permission from Islam to kill large numbers of civilians in the West and, even more so, killing other Muslims in Muslim lands.
I’ve lived too long in the Muslim world, and experienced the decency of Muslim communities, to believe that this is the essence of Islam. But I have seen too much of this suicidal violence for too long to believe that it has nothing to do with the puritanical, anti-gay, anti-transgender, anti-female, anti-religious-pluralism versions of Islam that are too often promoted by sources in the Arab world, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The websites, social networks and mosques that promote these intolerant ideas can “light up” lost souls anywhere in the world. Until that stops, we’re just waiting around for the next Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino or Orlando.
Exactly. This is neither a blanket condemnation nor a blanket exoneration, but an observation by someone who knows the Muslim world about as well as any American.