What to do? We can’t criminalize religious speech, but it’s folly to give radical Muslim clerics an unchallenged opportunity to indoctrinate their followers. There is a great range of “Muslim doctrine,” much of it admirable. On the other hand, the terror imams didn’t invent the Koranic language they used to indoctrinate the killers. We have to expose and condemn them, and their doctrines.
We don’t want to undo our Constitutional protection of speech, but the same First Amendment that protects radical imams enables us to defend our culture and our lives against them.
Some will no doubt say that we non-Muslims have no “standing” to attack their beliefs, but Americans have historically spoken out against ideas — political, religious, artistic, literary, whatever — that we find odious. It’s self-defeating to remain silent in the face of evil and those who advocate it, whoever or whatever they are.
Lots of people in the West have, as a brilliant book explains in elegant detail, been paralyzed by guilt, and dare not criticize our enemies. This disgusting and dangerous censorship goes by the Orwellian name of “political correctness,” and underlies a great deal of the crisis we’re in. It pretends to show sympathy by forbidding criticism of most anyone (except a conservative, a Christian, or a Jew), but in fact it is the opposite: we show no respect to Muslim Americans by pretending their ideas do not matter to us.
Many scholars of Islam yearn for an Islamic “Reformation” that would modernize the faith and enable Muslims to participate more fully in the modern world. Perhaps we can help. Yes, they can say whatever they wish. And we can tell them what we think about it. It’s called free speech and vigorous debate.