If the Terrorists Misinterpret Islam ...
Liberalism withholds judgment until finding an answer bulletproofed by logic and reason, and this practice is nothing less than the bedrock of the first world.
I am of course referring to classical liberalism, now tragically mistitled conservatism. The half-philosophy known as the Left co-opted that most precious word, liberty, then stopped reading at "withholds judgment." And this anti-intellectual betrayal of humanity's best idea has once again resulted in an unfathomably dangerous historical anomaly: an existential threat is flourishing, liberty and life are at stake, yet the ones we now call liberals refuse to pass judgment on the illiberal. They have access to enough logic and reason for a bombproof conclusion, yet they refuse to pass judgment.
Forbes' 2009 survey of the world's most dangerous countries is out, and the list is comprised almost entirely of Islamic-dominated lands. A second list, of the world's active conflicts, is essentially a checklist of current Islamic aggression (and describes an entirely related point -- the few non-Islamic conflicts have communist/socialist or other totalitarian participants). Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo, Pakistan, West Bank/Gaza Strip, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Algeria, Nigeria, Georgia -- that's Forbes' top 15.
The world's current conflicts: an Islamic revolt in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq; an Islamic butchery in Sudan; an Islamic civil war in Somalia; an Islamist civil war in Sri Lanka; an Islamic invasion into Chad (perpetrated by the Sudanese butchers); an Islamic insurgency in Thailand; an Islamist insurgency across all of Northeast Africa (the Maghreb); an Islamic separatist movement in Kashmir; an Islamist insurgency in the Philippines; and a sustained Islamic belligerency against Israel involving Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
Besides those, the Earth is pained with a few conflicts involving Islamic, Communist, and other totalitarian movements, most of which are among the long-simmering variety and primarily feature constant human rights abuses rather than open war.
And that's it. That's all of the fighting.
Human rights? Women's rights? Islamic states -- including the supposed moderates such as Jordan -- take up virtually the entire list of worst offenders, along with a few other Communist/totalitarian regimes.
Rationalism, fairness, the death of tribalist fears, the emergence from tyranny and the plumb line from there to intellectual accomplishment -- it all seeds from the invention and military defense of the liberal. Presented with this evidence, the classical liberal is required to withhold judgment until finding an answer bulletproofed by logic and reason. This behavior is undeniably what the classical liberals among us have done -- admirably -- since 9/11.
First, we withheld judgment on the religion of the attackers. President Bush stood on rubble and promised "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." But he also stated, again and again, that we are not at war with Islam, simply with a perverted form of the great religion. It was a subjective, anti-intellectual conclusion. It was not based on reason, and the correct response regarding liberalism's stance toward Islam should have been: "We have not reached an answer yet."