This last episode of poorly planned terrorism and the constant squabbling amongst the ranks of progressives about how to approach the issue made me write this today. I guess I'm just a little sick and tired of both the people who want us to accept Islam without question as well as those who are operating under the idea that Islam is the greatest threat since Communism.
First let me point out that I am a Jew. Granted, I'm not a practicing one and certainly I don't qualify for it by the standards by some of my more Orthodox relatives but whatever. Despite the stand I am supposed to take according to my anti-Muslim friends, I think for myself and I'll share that with you here.
Number one, as far as I am concerned, organized religion is a crutch for those who can't think on their own, but that is just my opinion. That being said, I fully respect anyone of any religious or spiritual conviction who practices the good in their religion and doesn't subscribe to the intolerance of fundamentalism. The best way to combat extremism and those who use it to push their own interests is to marginalize them with the support of moderate branches of their own religion. The problem here in the West is that we tend to want to put everyone and everything into neat little compartments or attach it to some other preconceived notion of what something is instead of researching and learning for ourselves. Not all Muslims are radicals just as not all people who oppose abortion endorse illegal means to get their mission accomplished. Just as with Christianity, Islam has different sects and religious practices vary from region to region. Not all Muslims interpret "Jihad" as a commandment to kill Westerners or Muslims who are secular and oppose extremism but as with all religions and politics, the radicals are the loudest and therefore get attention even though they tend to be the minority.
Extremism usually finds it's fertile recruiting grounds amongst the poor, unemployed and disaffected. By opening new possibilities for a better life, we decrease the attraction of violent Jihad. By embracing and getting to moderates of all religions, we neutralize the often true perception that Americans are biased against all Muslims. It's easy to hate a faceless, stereotyped group of people and all that does is further lend credence to the voices of those who would destroy us. It's much harder to practice that same hate when those people have names and faces. We are all human beings after all, regardless of what way we choose to worship, or not worship.