Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2001 / 18 Tishrei, 5762

Lewis A. Fein

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Of Martyrs and Muslims: Stopping Evil -- In the aftermath of last month's terrorist attacks, one must examine a series of hard but plain facts. Specifically, Christians and Jews, the two predominant faiths within American society and Western civilization, do not commit acts of murderous violence, either in furtherance of a political point or because of religious orthodoxy. Yet some Muslims -- too many, in fact -- routinely invoke religion as a cause for terrorism.

Make no mistake, millions of Muslims practice their faith peacefully and honorably; and any attempt to intimidate or violate the rights of Arab-Americans is abhorrent. But the difficult truth remains: Jews and Christians do not draw an inevitable route between murder and heavenly dispensation. That is, no Jew or Christian reads the Bible as an explicitly political tract, whereby violence is the manifestation of G-d's will.

Yes, some self-proclaimed Christian zealots attack abortion clinics, drawing an erroneous connection between the true definitions governing life and death. And, though no respectable Christian cleric would countenance the use of violence (rightfully condemning the murder of any individual, including an abortionist), the religious roots of September's events are more ominous.

First, most Christians and Jews respect the separation between the secular and sectarian. This distinction between private faith and public behavior is essential, even though the federal government excessively limits official displays of otherwise benign yet popular religious ideas. Still, no serious Jew or Christian looks askance at American culture, saying: "America is weak and decadent, consumed by sex, atheism and violence. So, because America is soft, Americans must die."

Now, consider the above statement within the context of last September's attacks. No reasonable Jew or Christian celebrates the death of innocent civilians, but Muslim extremists perpetrated these acts precisely because, in their own twisted view, America is free. Indeed, the typical Christian may beseech his brethren to repent, when confronted with convincing evidence of wrongdoing (which Jerry Falwell so inarticulately defined); only Muslim extremists exact death as punishment for, among other things, treating Jews respectfully.

Second, tolerance has its limits. By definition, tolerance connotes a form of respect, even if the tolerable idea or action is not itself worthy of universal admiration. Think unpopular but constitutionally protected speech. There is, however, a mistaken notion that, because someone or something is inherently unpopular (in this case, Muslim extremism), tolerance must ensue. This warped philosophy explains liberalism's sick brand of moral relativism; whereby aggrieved parties, simply because they are aggrieved, enjoy respect.

Many groups are angry, but only few individuals morally deserve their indignation. For example, convicted felons do not deserve their anger; they are prisoners because of their evil behavior, not in spite of it. Similarly, Muslim extremists may cite various sources for condemnation - namely, Israel and the United States - but such behavior is a mere sideshow: insofar as Muslim extremists are "victims," they remain a justifiably contained quantity.

And therein lies a fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberals want to understand September's terrorists; conservatives want to destroy the group's benefactors. Liberals demand to know the root causes of terrorism, presumably because America is the secret culprit; conservatives seek to extinguish terrorism at its roots. And yes, liberals believe inclusion will solve the scourge of terrorism - as if multiculturalism is the answer.

Perhaps the idea of inclusion - at all costs and in spite of every piece of conceivable evidence - is terrorism's hidden ally. For inclusion, at least liberalism's definition of the same, means welcoming all aggrieved parties - regardless of guilt or innocence. At its most extreme, this attitude means inserting Islam's most villainous figures within that broader mosaic of politically correct signposts that simultaneously greet travelers and elementary school students: "Welcome to the United States, apologies to Native-Americans, women, pagans and descendants of black slaves."

There is nothing to know or understand about Muslim extremism. Murder is murder, even when the killers claim divine inspiration.

To borrow a phrase from author William Manchester's description of Churchill's England, Muslim extremists lack what every decent citizen enjoys:

A soul beneath the ribs of death.

JWR contributor Lewis A. Fein is a writer and Internet entrepreneur in Los Angeles.Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, Lewis A. Fein