Dealing With The Islamic Issue; Post Paris Attack 11/13/15
In the wake of a highly orchestrated and brutal attack on the city of Paris, only hours ago, we're already witnessing the reactionary doubling down of both camps, neither of which is correct, on either side of the Islamic issue. We can all continue to be wrong or we can put both caricatured positions to rest and begin to deal with this issue rationally. The entire debate, as presented on social media and mainstream news, lends credence to a false dichotomy with two entirely unhelpful poles as the only potentially correct positions it is possible to support in regards to Islam, Muslims, and Jihadis. The truth, like many truths, is actually more nuanced and lies somewhere in between these two reactionary camps.
False Position 1 (Regressive Liberal Position)
The denizens of this camp will be proclaiming things in the weeks to come such as, "no religions are evil, these people are not true muslims, the doctrine of Islam doesn't support this behavior," ect. This position is as absurd as it's anthisesis. Actually nearly all religions support genocides and extreme forms of violence and such behavior is easily linked to the foundational texts in question (Haddith and Qu'ran in this case). When religious revelation is taken literally the historical result is consistently like what we saw today in Paris. The degree to which a faith position can be integrated into the free world is directly correlated to the degree to which it has been tempered by secularism. In reality there are problems with the doctrines of Islam, the doctrines are easily linked to the behaviors in question, and the faith deluded muderers in question are muslims in a very true and literal sense. (If you doubt this you need to read the texts in question) I know this isn't a comfortable position for Liberals and it feels like a betrayal to the multi-cultural stance that we try to embrace but some behaviors are unacceptable and tolerating them in the name of tolerance not only fails to address the problem but is utterly nonsensical.
False Position 2 (Bigotry toward all Muslims, Strident Conservative Position)
This really shouldn't be something that anyone has to point out but; this behavior and the potential for this behavior cannot be generalized to all Muslims. Though a disturbingly high percentage of muslims do seem to clinging to a literal view of the dogma expressed in the Haddith and the Qur'an (a position that would be equally unpardonable for Jews or Christians because of the behavior that would axiomatically result) this is still a very small percentage. Villifying all muslims is not only unfair and unproductive but is ultimately counter-productive in that it will alienate the moderate secular leaning muslims that must ultimately spur on the reformation that is needed. We need to consider the secular muslims around us, here in the U.S., as allies in a fight to modernize a faith. Not as boogey men to be feared, hated, and marginalized.
This is a complex issue but it is an issue that needs to be addressed and neither of the above positions are helpful. Xenophobia and conversely, blind apologetics, are both wrong. The former is an overgenalization that posits that the way in which people practice their faith is both monolithic and extreme despite all logical evidence to the contrary. The latter refuses to acknowledge a very real problem in the name of a mis-guided Political Correctness. Try to avoid both poles in the days and months to come because they are both unnuanced positions that only push us further away from taking the carefully calculated steps that will allow us to make any headway on this issue. I don't think anyone knows the answer to the Islam question at this point but it should be obvious that neither of these extreme positions is it. We need to be both honest about both the doctrines of Islam and the way in which those doctrines actually manifest themselves statistically in behavior. Careful consideration of these two points of present contention should preclude both unproductive positions that are currently in vogue; namely zenophobia and blind political correctness.