Labeling Islam as enemy will only help extremists
What’s in a name? Why the debate over saying “radical Islamic extremism” when we try to combat ISIS and its ilk? Radical Islamic extremism does exist, and we do need to combat it. However, it is not the best way to designate our enemy.
The problem is violent extremism, which has occurred, small scale and large scale, in many guises, with many stated justifications, recently and historically. Al-Qaida, ISIS and Boko Haram are recent examples that claim the religion of Islam as their basis, a claim rejected by the vast majority of Muslims worldwide.
Consider also the IRA, the Atlanta massacre of blacks last year by Dylann Roof, the Nazi genocide, the Bosnian genocide, the Rwanda genocide, the Spanish Inquisition and so many more. Violent extremism, not Islam, is the problem. What drives it is not a particular religion.
What does drive it? There are many possibilities, but always a necessary foundation is the division of people into “us” and “them.” When we suggest that Islam is our enemy, we confirm the ISIS lie that we are at war with Islam and expand the pool of sympathizers on which ISIS can call, when instead we should be undermining ISIS’ false claims.
Why do we do this? I suspect it is because raging against a foreign foe helps consolidate domestic support. But those who do this should be called to account for “rendering assistance to the enemy.”