- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

News-talk shows last weekend featured discussions of the growing disapproval of Islam in America.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the approval numbers have dropped 10 points to 37 percent. The words used to address this drop in favorability include xenophobia, racism, prejudice, ignorance and more. The Ground Zero Mosque is 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 a 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 clear differences between benign Islam and Islamism.

The Ground Zero Mosque debate has generated questions about the true motivation and objectives for the mosque. Why have rational criticism, opposition, emotions and attempts at compromise been met with what is essentially an insult to the moral integrity of Americans who question those motivations?

Students of Islam and Islamism have long understood the differences; the public in general has been weaned on oversimplifications insufficient to fully understand the differences and distinctions. When obvious contradictions appear, the questions become deeper and more critical. As the questions about Islam deepen, credibility of political leadership and is also cast in doubt. When Muslims demand that actual behaviors be ignored as a basis upon which to judge them, but a pastor in Florida is used by Muslims as a basis to judge all Americans, Americans begin to see the double standard at play.

We have been schooled 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. Why?

These poll numbers regarding Americans’ view of Islam were inevitable. The only surprise is that they have arrived this quickly, in light of the degree of political correctness arrayed against them.

We disregard our moral responsibility to protect and encourage moderate Islam by not distinguishing it from Islamism.

DENNIS LANDRY

Chantilly, Va.


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