There’s “Not Such a Thing” as Radical Islam?

Earlier this week, the always-slimy Alan Colmes was in rare form trying to defend Attorney General Eric Holder’s surreal inability to utter the phrase “radical Islam” (emphasis added):

COLMES: Because there’s not such a thing as radical Islam.

KELLY: What?

COLMES: It is not Islam. It is not part of the religion. People are not doing this in the name of true Islam.

KELLY: Nobody’s saying they’re doing it in the name of true Islam.

COLMES: Why don’t we say that when somebody bombs an abortion clinic, or Scott Roeder, who kills an abortion doctor, is radical Christianity? Why isn’t there a great movement to say, ‘you gotta call it radical Christianity’?

[…]

KELLY: It’s not Islam. No one’s condemning Islam. It’s radical Islam.

COLMES: Then don’t use the word…to attach the words of those religions to that act is wrong…they’re not Islamic; they’re not acting according to Islamic doctrine […] It’s religious bigotry! […] This is a political ideology, not a religious ideology. They are attacking us on political grounds, not religious grounds.  They are misusing Islam, and to use the word ‘Islam’ to try to apply to them because it satisfies our need to demonize a religion, is absolutely wrong, and bigoted…why are we so hung up on words?

Why are we so hung up on words?  I don’t know, Alan—go ask the guy you voted for.

Good gravy, where to begin?  First, let’s tackle the nonsense about how attaching “radical” to something is a smear.  Actually, Alan, it turns out that lots of people use the phrase “radical Christianity.” And y’know what?  I don’t blame ‘em!  It’s not anti-Christian to say there are radical versions of, or strains in, Christianity; it’s anti-Christian to say that “radical Christianity” IS “normal” or “true” Christianity.  I suspect most people with an above-toaster IQ would recognize that saying “radical” before a religion’s name is meant to distinguish what you’re talking about from the religion as a whole.  That Colmes needs something so elementary explained to him is clearly an indication that either he’s getting paid way too much, or I’m getting paid way too little. (Of course, Colmes’ blog is chock-full of whining about people using the word “radical,” but he has no qualms about identifying “radical tea partiers”…)

Second, Colmes and Holder are awfully certain that the jihadists can’t possibly be operating from an even remotely valid interpretation of the Qur’an.  Unfortunately, anyone who’s actually studied Islam in any depth can tell you, that’s not such a safe bet to make.  I think I may be forgiven for suspecting neither Alan Colmes nor Eric Holder has studied the matter as carefully as, say, John Quincy Adams and Winston Churchill.  Of course we should acknowledge that there are lots of moral, peace-loving Muslims, but it needs to be acknowledged that, at the very least, it’s not at all obvious that the jihadists are the ones on flimsy theological ground.

At the risk of again stating the obvious, it’s important to accurately identify your enemy so you understand his goals, motivations, and level of rationality, and you can respond accordingly.  But I guess hoping the United States Attorney General would understand that sort of thing is too much to ask.

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