Friday, July 08, 2005

Friedman Nails It

Truly excellent Thomas Friedman editorial today that crystalizes many of the sentiments I've been trying to express in the aftermath of the London terror attacks. Simply put, if the moderate Muslims don't start taking a bigger stand in this matter, then the outcome isn't going to be pretty.

I only speak for myself, but I grow frustrated with calls to attempt to understand a culture that apparently is unmoved by beheadings, untroubled by suicide bombers and terrorists, yet riots over reports that a book has been mishandled in a prison holding these terrorists (true or not). I feel little sympathy, that is, for a culture that apparently feels my life has no worth, and it's not putting me in a tolerant mood.

Here's Friedman:

Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed...

...The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.
The emphasis is mine - and I'll repeat it: no major or Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden (maybe Friedman's wrong here: I've learned to be suspicious of blanket declarations, but I'll take him at his word until I see or hear otherwise).

The progressive response to these attacks is exactly backwards: there is a need for more tolerance and understanding; it is the Muslim world that had better learn a little bit more about the Western world's aversion to being killed on the way to work, and just why that might be a bit of a problem, or as Friedman says, this will end quite badly, indeed. I'm not a racist, not a bigot, and God knows I don't intend to condemn an entire group for the actions of a few...but the many had better start joining the chorus of condemnation, or I and many others will only offer a deaf ear to their greivances; I don't intend to listen until murder is taken off the table...

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