According to Geoffrey James of BNET, Islam is the third worst brand disaster of the decade. Yet, everyone wants to claim to be Muslim — or at least a one-time Muslim. If we think about these people as a microcosm of high school, they basically fall into three camps: the goths, the cheerleaders, and the dweeb.
The “goths” are individuals like the founder of Revolution Muslim, or John Walker Lindh, or Abu Yahya Majadin Adam, not to be confused with Adam Gadahn, or any number of other wannabe jihadi hoodlums. As a I pointed out in an earlier article here at RD, this vision of a violent culture is almost the new adolescent culture of resistance. Punk and Metal are no longer flashy enough to be seen as “alienated.” Jihadism, under the guise of Islam, is the new place for lonely, disenfranchised kids to go. In this way, Osama Bin Laden is better seen as the creepy older kid who buys booze for his “followers” than a religious leader.
The less directly violent group who are attracted to Islam are the “ex-Muslims.” These people are deeply attracted to Islam for the most capitalist of purposes: to make a buck. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, and even Brigitte Gabriel, who wants to be seen as having knowledge about “Islam” by virtue of being Arab. They leverage the worst stereotypes of Muslims, particularly with respect to gender relations—notice how many of these speakers are women. They would not carry out acts of violence, but they have no problem suggesting that Muslims should be treated violently. The mean girls try to rule supreme.
Perhaps the most underappreciated of all of these cast of characters is the dweeb, who tells self-aggrandizing stories to fit in with every single group, without actually belonging to any of them. A good example of this person is Ergun Caner, the president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. He claims to have grown up Muslim in Turkey. He claims he joined a radical group (to fit in with the goths). He then claims to have discovered Jesus, and wants to bash on the Muslims to be with the popular girls. Unfortunately, Caner’s story just does not work, as questions are being raised about the veracity of autobiographical details of his Muslim boyhood.
For Liberty University, his lies and the fraudulent basis for his new-found Christian theology are not ethical or moral issues. The University has decided not to investigate whether Caner has been truthful about his Muslim past, asserting, “we give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage.” It seems to be too important for them to have someone associated with the “Islam” brand, especially the brand that touts the violent-Muslim-to-good-Christian trajectory that Caner claims.
Like any high school show, we spend too much time on the outliers, and we take our view as being representative of that life. We forget that we never meet the vast majority of students who are more organically affiliated with the brand of “Islam” and do not need to flaunt it at every opportunity.