Sarah rightfully points out how acceptable it is to demean Muslims. In fact, I believe that prejudice against people of faith, of any faith, is one of the last respectable prejudices one may hold, and it’s due to the fact that we tend to view religions other than our own as ideologies. This is essentially a “pre-9/11 mindset” that sees a religion as an “-ism,” like communism or socialism, that is devoid of any historical or political context.
Recently, Col. Allen West, retired from the military, and a Republican candidate for the House seat in Florida’s 22nd Congressional district, delivered a speech about “leadership.” In this speech, he exemplifies all the poor thinking that relates to Islam at a policy level.
West says that we should not be fighting a “war on terror,” because we do not fight a tactic. So far, so good. But then West argues that nations declare war on ideologies. Perhaps I am poor student of history, but nations seem to go to war against nations, which may possess differing ideologies. In all the wars the U.S. has ever fought, I do not think we have fought an ephemeral ideology. The Cold War was fought with the Soviet Empire. As I understand his logic, he is arguing that we should not fight an intangible thing, “terror,” but we should fight an intangible thing, “ideology.” He then argues that Islam is an ideology.
Oddly enough, I actually think you can argue Islam, like any other religion, is an ideology. However, his proof is that in the 7th century, communities would make treaties with other communities. Then, one community would break the treaty and go to war. A quick historical survey shows that communities throughout the world were doing this well into the 20th century, including in Europe. Perhaps all these communities were ideologically driven, but is West actually suggesting that they were all driven by the same ideology? Or is he exercising a historical amnesia in order to vilify Muslims?