"While it's true that jihadists don't represent most Muslims, they do represent Islam."
- Bosch Fawstin
History lessons are often incredibly simple. As an Op-Ed once more doing the rounds makes clear, when the “silent majority” ignore atrocities carried out in their name, they share all the guilt of the perpetrators.
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.
“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”
We are told again and again by experts and talking heads that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this un-quantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.
The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or execute honour killings. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.
It was the “peaceful majority” in Nazi Germany, in Mao’s China, in Soviet Russia, in Castro’s Cuba, and in Hutu-ruled Rwanda who were silent, who spoke up too late, and who so often died themselves of what they were too cowed to name.
It was the peaceful majority in Ireland however (that’s peaceful majority without the scare quotes) who finally ended the murders, the bombings and the assassinations perpetrated by the IRA—and who demonstrated how powerful a response it can be to rise up an say of such violence “not in my name!” (Witness the effect that the sisters of Robert McCartney had in speaking out against Irish violence -- in saying "NO MORE!" theirs became the voices that brought an end to what had once seemed unending.)
The fact is, however, that until or unless that happens then the silence of the so-called peaceful makes them anything but. Because the fact is that
peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes a similar point plain in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal when she asks who really speaks for Islam? It’s not an idle question; it becomes more important by the day.
The question requiring an answer at this moment in history is clear: Which group of leaders really speaks for Islam? The officially approved spokesmen for the "Muslim community"? Or the manic street preachers of political Islam, who indoctrinate, encourage and train the killers—and then bless their bloodshed? […]
Some refuse even to admit that this is the question on everyone's mind. Amazingly, given the litany of Islamist attacks—from the 9/11 nightmare in America and the London bombings of July 7, 2005, to the slayings at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, at the Boston Marathon last month and now Woolwich—some continue to deny any link between Islam and terrorism. This week, BBC political editor Nick Robinson had to apologize for saying on the air, as the news in Woolwich broke, that the men who murdered Lee Rigby were "of Muslim appearance."
Memo to the BBC: The killers were shouting "Allahu akbar" as they struck. Yet when complaints rained down on the BBC about Mr. Robinson's word choice, he felt obliged to atone. One can only wonder at people who can be so exquisitely sensitive in protecting Islam's reputation yet so utterly desensitized to a hideous murder explicitly committed in the name of Islam.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Woolwich murder, it was good to hear expressions of horror and sympathy from Islamic spokesmen, but something more is desperately required: genuine recognition of the problem with Islam.
Muslim leaders should ask themselves what exactly their relationship is to a political movement that encourages young men to kill and maim on religious grounds…
Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists or sympathetic to terrorists. Equating all Muslims with terrorism is stupid and wrong. But acknowledging that there is a link between Islam and terror is appropriate and necessary…
I don't blame Western leaders [for saying otherwise]. They are doing their best to keep the lid on what could become a meltdown of trust between majority populations and Muslim minority communities…
But I do blame Muslim leaders. It is time they came up with more credible talking points. Their communities have a serious problem. Young people, some of whom are not born into the faith, are being fired up by preachers using basic Islamic scripture and mobilized to wage jihad by radical imams who represent themselves as legitimate Muslim clergymen.
I wonder what would happen if Muslim leaders like Julie Siddiqi started a public and persistent campaign to discredit these Islamist advocates of mayhem and murder. Not just uttering the usual laments after another horrifying attack, but making a constant, high-profile effort to show the world that the preachers of hate are illegitimate. After the next zealot has killed the next victim of political Islam, claims about the "religion of peace" would ring truer.
Like the McCartney sisters, the silent Muslim majority need to become the Muslim leaders.
Until then, the silent majority will have to endure all the consequences of the killing being done in their name.
[Hat tip Phil S.]