The bombings in London have left me shaking my head again over the sad state of affairs -- and how the war in Iraq distracted us from a very important mission of capturing Osama and negating Al Qaeda before they struck again. Too late. They have. All along I have said I would be supporting our administration if they were spending all this time, money, and lives on fighting the real enemy. (Apparently, the administration knows that many of us out here feel that way, so they constantly try and tie the 9/11 attacks to Iraq, even though other branches of our own government--and the CIA-- have said otherwise. But I digress...)
But, today a friend forwarded me this editorial from the NYTimes, which I like because it gives the Islamic community its fair share of responsibility for helping stem the flow of radical Islamic fundamentalism. I'm sharing it here with you. Pass it on as you see fit.
July 8, 2005
If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Yesterday's bombings in downtown London are profoundly disturbing. In part,that is because a bombing in our mother country and closest ally, England,is almost like a bombing in our own country. In part, it's because oneassault may have involved a suicide bomber, bringing this terrible jihadistweapon into the heart of a major Western capital. That would be deeplytroubling because open societies depend on trust - on trusting that theperson sitting next to you on the bus or subway is not wearing dynamite.
The attacks are also deeply disturbing because when jihadist bombers taketheir madness into the heart of our open societies, our societies are neveragain quite as open. Indeed, we all just lost a little freedom yesterday.
But maybe the most important aspect of the London bombings is this: When jihadist-style bombings happen in Riyadh, that is a Muslim-Muslim problem.That is a police problem for Saudi Arabia. But when Al-Qaeda-like bombingscome to the London Underground, that becomes a civilizational problem. Every Muslim living in a Western society suddenly becomes a suspect, becomes a potential walking bomb. And when that happens, it means Western countries are going to be tempted to crack down even harder on their own Muslim populations.
That, too, is deeply troubling. The more Western societies - particularly the big European societies, which have much larger Muslim populations than America - look on their own Muslims with suspicion, the more internal tensions this creates, and the more alienated their already alienated Muslim youth become. This is exactly what Osama bin Laden dreamed of with 9/11: to create a great gulf between the Muslim world and the globalizing West.
So this is a critical moment. We must do all we can to limit the civilizational fallout from this bombing. But this is not going to be easy.Why? Because unlike after 9/11, there is no obvious, easy target toretaliate against for bombings like those in London. There are no obviousterrorist headquarters and training camps in Afghanistan that we can hit with cruise missiles. The Al Qaeda threat has metastasized and become franchised. It is no longer vertical, something that we can punch in the face. It is now horizontal, flat and widely distributed, operating through the Internet and tiny cells.
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 - orthe 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. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.
The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving theprophet 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.
Some Muslim leaders have taken up this challenge. This past week in Jordan, King Abdullah II hosted an impressive conference in Amman for moderateMuslim thinkers and clerics who want to take back their faith from those who have tried to hijack it. But this has to go further and wider.
The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long ast he Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst.
_______________end of NYTimes editorial__________________
Indeed, it would be a disaster if we were to disallow any more Muslims into the country -- in my mind it would be a disaster if we were to shut out any one group. America is what she is because of a grand variety of ingredients. I had a professor in college who hated the melting pot metaphor because melting something so drastically changes its core; instead, Dr. Burnim preferred the American Stew metaphor -- where each ingredient and spice brings it's own special flavor and enhances the whole. The Muslim community has good things to offer America; just as the Germans, the Irish, the Africans, the Catholics, the Christians, the Jews have offered us in the past 200 years. Let's not forget that.