The Left is well-known for its hostility towards religious belief—remember the fury a few years ago when the Supreme Court made the uncontroversial decision that the government couldn’t force religious employers to pay for abortion drugs?—but for some reason liberals generally tend to put the kid gloves on when it comes to Islam. A great example of this was Gary Trudeau’s criticism of the victims of Islamic terrorism rather than the Islamic terrorists themselves. Another good example is Judd Birdsall’s criticism of the terms “radical Islam” and “Islamic terrorism:”
A willingness to use the phrase “radical Islam” has become a badge of honor and a test of orthodoxy among many Republicans. In his convention remarks, Rep. Michael McCaul said, “Let’s cut through the suffocating political correctness and call the threat what it really is — the enemy is radical Islam.” McCaul also dismissed welcoming Syrian refugees — those fleeing the enemy — as a “dangerous liberal agenda.”
To their credit, some speakers, including Rudy Giuliani, did try to distinguish between terrorists and ordinary non-violent Muslims. But the very term “radical Islam” impugns the faith of all 1.6 billion Muslims and it grants religious legitimacy to those who do use Islam to justify terrorism.
This is a weird and inexplicable argument to make, chiefly because Birdsall apparently equates “radical Islam” with “Islam” full stop. But that’s precisely what people who use the term “radical Islam” are trying not to do. The reason most people append the “radical” onto the word “Islam” is specifically to set it apart from the wider faith. Identifying and naming the Islamic roots of much of modern terrorism doesn’t translate to “impugning” the faith of over a billion Muslims; only a simpleton would see things in so dim and one-sided a manner. There’s nothing wrong with saying radical Islam when in fact you are talking about radical Islam.
Attempting to prove his point to Christians, Birdsall finishes:
[I]n its treatment of Muslims, the GOP has lost its soul: The Islamophobia at the Cleveland convention was a betrayal of the “Judeo-Christian heritage” touted in the GOP Platform. At the heart of Judaism and Christianity — and Islam — is the command to love God and love neighbor. For Christians, Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan makes it abundantly clear that our neighbors include those who are ethnically and religiously different.
In contemporary America, Muslims are the new Samaritans.
One need only look to the Bible — which Trump claims as his favorite book — to know how our forefathers would tell us to treat the Samaritans among us. And it wasn’t what we saw in Cleveland.
What an embarrassing mess. In the parable Birdsall references, the Good Samaritan was the fellow who stopped to help the injured traveler alongside the road. For this analogy to make any sense at all in the context of Birdsall’s larger point, American Muslims would have to represent the traveler—the victim—and Republicans would have to be the Samaritans. Now, maybe the point he was trying to make is that the Samaritans of ancient Israel were, and the Muslims of modern-day America are, both despised by large classes of people (Jews in Christ’s time, Republicans in this one). But that still doesn’t make any sense: it’s not Muslims in general but rather radical, violent Muslims that everyone is afraid of. Most people have no problem with the average Muslim. Even those of us who feel there is a certain tension between the Islamic faith and and the culture and mores of the West feel nothing towards Muslims comparable to the animosity that existed between Jews and Samaritans. Birdsall’s analogy is a disaster no matter how it’s interpreted.
Making matters worse, Birdsall is identified as “the managing director of the Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies at Clare College, Cambridge.” If the head of a collegiate religious institute can so terribly mangle basic exegesis, why on Earth should we listen to him about something as complex and critical as Islamic terrorism?