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Friday, July 15, 2005

CAIR VS MOST AMERICANS: William Youmans and most Americans agree on one thing: The world would be a better place without media reports of fanatics who carry out vicious murders in the name of Islam. For most Americans, it would be even better if vicious murders in the name of Islam didn’t take place. Youmans just wishes the murders wouldn’t be reported as taking place in the name of Islam.

Darn it. Mr. Youmans and most Americans were off to such a good start.

Here’s the deal. Youmans gets paid to do PR work for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that continuously aligns itself against efforts to acknowledge that the bombings in London and the events of September 11 were carried out in the name of Islam. CAIR’s basic argument goes like this: Because killings done in the name of Islam are contrary to correct understandings of Islamic teachings, therefore terrorism conducted in the name of Islam is not truly "Islamic terrorism."

The way to "undermine the violent agenda of fringe extremists [is] to de-link Islam from their terrorism," says Youmans. In other words, the news media must stop linking such terror to Islam in name. So close, yet so far. Most Americans would prefer to see the "de-linking" take place inside Islam. Facts are inconvenient things. Consider these:

  • The fanatical killers do their work in the name of Islam. We know this because we listen to their statements, read their news releases, visit their Web sites.
  • Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims. Mr. Youmans may not like that media reports report this. But that doesn’t make the reporting inaccurate.
  • The way to find out how American Muslims and "most Muslims in the world feel about terrorism in the name of Islam" is for the world to hear them stand up and speak out against against the killing that is being done in the name of their religion.

"Almost all Muslims continue to reject violence and versions of Islam that exploit it," says Youmans. Notice how this statement undercuts Youmans’ central thesis; now he admits "versions of Islam" are responsible for what happened on 7/7 and 9/11. Look: It may be more accurate to call these fanatics "Islamists" rather than "Islamic," but in the final analysis the problem is not a semantic one. The problem is fanatics who wish to destroy every vestige of the post-seventh century world by whatever means they have at hand. Most Americans oppose that mission.

So, there’s this stand-off. Mr. Youmans wants to change the way facts get reported. Most Americans want to change the facts themselves. To his credit, Mr. Youmans doesn’t like the fanatics’ sects or agree with the tenets of their faith. That puts him back in agreement with most Americans. But it is ludicrous to insist that the fanatics don’t speak in the name of Islam. Earth calling William Youmans: tune into "the street."

Do that, and if you don’t like the sound of what you’re hearing, Mr. Youmans, neither do most Americans. So get to work with your own community. Devote your time and energy to convincing the non-violent Muslim community to speak loudly and clearly. The proper day for the media to stop referring to "terrorism conducted in the name of Islam" is when that activity has ceased. On that day we can turn everything over to historians, to figure out what this "bad patch" within peace-loving Islam was all about. On that day we can celebrate the triumph of Islamic moderation.

Memo to CAIR: That day isn’t today. And the way you are spending your waking and working hours isn’t bringing that day any closer. When the links between Islam and terror have disappeared, let the party begin. So long as the links are live, civilization does itself no favors playing Orwellian word games aimed to sugarcoat barbarism in the name of misguided pluralism.