One of the biggest problems with our progressive culture is the tendency to tell it like it ain't. We keep insisting that we live in a world where everyone can be buddies and pals, and if only those pesky racist conservatives would get on board, it would be peace and John Lennon songs all the way.
To that end, our approach to Islam is that it is more or less like everything else. Someone - and I missed who - apparently said that Islam is a different religion. It's different than us I guess. This set off a debate on CNN last night. Of course if you are a modern secularist, you know Islam, like Christianity, is just one more set of bullshit fairy tales made up by ancient people.
Of course it's the same. All religions are. Naturally there are bad elements. But in the modern, liberal framework, they exist solely as a result of the West - particularly the US government - getting in there and messing things up. Basically, what did we do to make them hate us? When Limbaugh said that after 9/11 to describe the Left's reaction to the attacks, it was seen as a partisan attack on liberalism. Today, it is the cornerstone of the Left's understanding of world events.
So when you see something like this, many progressives rush to the microphones and say 'See, we told you. Muslims hate Isis and terrorism, too. They're just like us.' Well, of course they hate them. Just like we hate child rapists. Terrorists kill Muslims just like they kill others. Which is why several years after 9/11, Muslims finally came out and condemned terrorism without trying to spin it back on the US, the Crusades, or Allah is great.
At first, if you remember, even the most ardent liberal reporter had a hard time finding Muslims who would simply condemn the attacks, period. There was always a catch. A caveat. A proviso in the assessment of the attacks. Eventually, after several years, Muslims did become more vocal and less nuanced. But that's because terrorism that was breaking out was killing Muslims at a staggering rate. Most of the casualties of our Iraqi invasion are the result of the clashes between Muslims, not the actions of the coalition.
Seeing this, Muslims naturally began to condemn terrorism more forcefully. So it's not surprising that, even as Isis kills hundreds now through bombings, shootings, coordinated attacks, that Muslims denounce them and fight them. After all, Isis is just as willing to kill other Muslims as anyone.
That doesn't mean Saudi Arabia is ready to embrace Western liberalism. Or Western anything. Any more than the USSR was ready to embrace Christian Democracy. The USSR stood against Nazi Germany due to one reason: Germany invaded it and was trying to destroy it. But at no point was the USSR trying to be like us. And critics of the US are quick to point out how horrible we were to ally ourselves to such a terrible government. After all, how clean were our hands when we were allies with Stalin?
Yet isn't it the same now? We are willing to look the other way with Islam. We try to imagine that the sum total of problems in the Islamic world are the result of us and us alone. We see the slightest movement in the Muslim world as proof that they are just like us. As my boys say, if only Conservative Americans were given the benefit of the doubt that the Islamic world is given.
And yet, we would be foolish - we are foolish - to think this way. Islam is different. As is China. As is Asia. As are African cultures. As is Russia. The world isn't sitting around wondering how it can embrace liberal Western values. The world is still a big place after all. And the Islamic world is quite the other. It may agree with us at times. And Muslims may see many things in our cultures and societies worth embracing. But it will always be different. Simply because it takes a step in the logical direction means Muslims are simply honest about the problems at hand. It means nothing more than Muslims might be better at handling reality that most of our best and brightest here at home. Certainly our best here on the set of CNN.