Heated discussions continue related to the growing disapproval of Islam in America. Since September 11, 2001 the approval numbers have dropped 10 points to 37%. The recent adjectives used to address this drop in favorability include charges of xenophobia, racism, prejudice, ignorance and more. The NYC is mosque clearly the precipitant at the center of the change in attitudes. The passion is fueled by yet another instance where political “leadership” stands in opposition to the expressed will of the people, who feel fully justified in their opposition.
There are deeper reasons why a culturally tolerant people would engender such a change in opinion. Chief among them is an abysmal failure of intellectual honesty and leadership. We have failed to develop accurate semantic distinctions that make clear the differences that exist in the Islamic world. We have failed to define the differences existent in Islam critically, the difference between benign Islam and Islamism.
Repeating the mantra “we are not at war with Islam” has lost its impact; more and more Americans arrive at the opinion that Islam may be at war with us. For political and opinion leaders to reiterate that we are at war with terror, a tactic; or with amorphous “extremists” as the predicate for not being at war with Islam fails to provide the exactitude necessary to reach clear understandings and points of differentiation. The absence of clear definitions is a mandate to misunderstanding; where understanding is not present, emotion and generalities persist.
Political correctness appears to demand that we address Islam as a cohesive whole when it is not. The absence of the intellectual courage to differentiate is at the core of the new polling numbers. The refusal to recognize, define or acknowledge the trends of soft or stealth Jihad for what they are is a crucial communication failure.
The Mosque debate has generated, at least, at an instinctual level questions as to the motivation for the true objectives for the Mosque. Why are rational criticism, opposition, understandable emotion and attempts at compromise met with what is, in essence, an insult to the moral integrity of Americans who honestly question those motivations?
Students of Islam and Islamism have long understood the differences; the public in general, however, has been weaned on oversimplifications and intellectual pabulum insufficient to generate a basic understanding of the differences. This failure to differentiate results in seismic reactions delayed or repressed by political correctness. When the attempt at compromise is met with aggressive prejudice, threats of violence and the refusal to compromise the reaction is predictable. The questions of motivation accelerate!
When obvious contradictions appear the questions become deeper and more critical. As the questions about Islam deepen, the credibility of political leadership is also cast in doubt. When Muslims demand that actual behaviors be ignored as a basis upon which to judge them when a moron pastor in Florida is utilized by Muslims as a basis to judge all Americans, Americans begin to see the double standards at play. We have been schooled, appropriately, by liberals for decades to resist double standards: sexual, cultural and racial double standards are to be overcome and put aside. However, a double standard regarding Islamism is to be ignored. We are, finally, beginning to ask why?
These poll numbers were inevitable; the only surprise is that they have arrived this quickly in light of the degree of political correctness arrayed against coming to the opinion represented in those numbers.
By refusing to distinguish between Islam and Islamism we disregard our moral responsibility to protect and encourage genuinely benign Islam. By refusing to separate Muslims who embrace and support the convergence of Islam and democratic ideals from the goals of Islamism and soft Jihad we create a horrific injustice.