Is our belief in freedom of religion the reason Western Christians don’t behead Muslims on television? Imagine how Islamic countries would erupt if that kind of spectacle popped up on the evening news.
We don’t see that kind of angry response when Americans are murdered for show. When the evil side of Islam kills, we shake our heads. World leaders and diplomats make harsh pronouncements. We bide our time until the next atrocity or, in the case of ISIS, act surprised and hunker down for another long engagement.
Sometimes America’s values get in the way of our thinking. This is one of those times. The U.S. will defend freedom of religion for Islam no matter what happens in the world, preferring to blame militant groups instead of the beliefs that spawn them. Until we refuse to view Islam as a religion and start treating it like an evolving political threat, we are in for more of what we saw this week.
Freedom of religion means no wake up call for the West.
Listening to what happened to James Foley being called a wake up call to the world is an insult to his memory as tiring as hearing our president refer to Islam as a great religion. We can’t separate Islam from its politics. In many places, those politics are used for evil. When Barack Obama declared January 16, 2014 to be Religious Freedom Day, he was wrong when he said:
America proudly stands with people of every nation who seek to think, believe, and practice their faiths as they choose.1
Not everyone everywhere should have the right to freedom of religion. Daniel Pearl and James Foley were victims of our flawed belief that this freedom we claim as our own should be doled out to others.
John Kerry spoke of ISIS being:
… an ugly insult to the peaceful religion they violate every day with their barbarity.2
Should we believe that militant Islam violates a peaceful religion, or should we admit that Islam is only peaceful because our hysterical fixation on freedom of religion refuses to allow us to condemn another faith?
Obama has distanced himself from Islam’s evil side, going overboard to cultivate the image of a benign faith treated shabbily by the Bush administration. Muslims in this country are entitled to our freedoms including freedom of religion, but we owe Islam nothing anywhere else in the world. Even in the United States it is hard to explain a poll that showed only 81% of American Muslims completely reject suicide bombings and violence. How do you go about defending freedom of religion for people whose faith can justify taking away others’ right to life indiscriminately?
No protests, no outrage from Islam over Foley.
After the release of the James Foley video, Kerry droned on with the usual diplomatic niceties that accompany something terrible happening to one of our people:
James Foley went to the darkest of places to shine the light of truth.3
The light of America’s truth doesn’t mean anything where James Foley was murdered. His death is not a wake up call to a world that can’t and won’t deal with the evil spread by Islam. The West is terrified of criticizing religious faith, particularly a religion where the slightest offense means an outpouring of protest and violence.
There were no mass protests in Pakistan when Daniel Pearl was killed, but there was Pakistani criticism over the killing of Osama bin Laden. We don’t see public outrage in the Middle East or North Africa over James Foley any more than we saw it after the Benghazi killings, but a cartoon or video will spill violent rabble into the streets.
Terrorism is trendy. We like to seize on the threat of the moment, whether it is exotic explosives in shampoo bottles, booby trapped shoes, or the revelation that ISIS is a whole lot bigger than Washington let on. ISIS isn’t the problem. Islam is the problem and the U.S. seems too conflicted over religion to be able to deal with it.
Grass roots extremist movements don’t come from government. Those who turn to militant Islam weren’t born terrorists and in the end, only the people can put a stop to radical Islam. Much as we like to transplant our ideals to other countries, they don’t exist everywhere. Islam is not inherently evil, but it cultivates evil. Why? Does it matter? What matters is that we stop cowering to freedom of religion, demand some accountability from Muslim countries and Western governments, and stop sheltering the evil in Islam that begs to be eradicated.