The radical-moderate continuum that has defined the dialogue on Islam in the War on Terror is not an authentic perspective, it is an observer perspective.
To the Western observer, a suicide bomber is radical, a Muslim Imam willing to perform gay weddings is moderate and the Muslim Brotherhood leader who supports some acts of terror, but not others, is moderately radical or radically moderate.
These descriptions tell us nothing about Islam or about what Muslims believe, but do tell us a great deal about its observers and what they believe. They turn Islam into inkblots that reveal more about the interpreter than the splotch of ink being interpreted.
Muslims are not radical or moderate. The radical-moderate continuum is how liberal countries rate individuals and countries to decide how well they will harmonize with the national and international consensus. Even if that consensus only exists in their own mind. The label of moderate does not mean a rejection of violence. Otherwise it could hardly be applied to the Muslim Brotherhood. What it means is a willingness to collaborate with Western governments and progressive organizations.
The radical-moderate labels are useful for liberals, but useless for anyone who wants to asses reality. It is tied into a number of false notions that are necessary for maintaining the status quo of liberal democracies. Notions such as the equal moral stature and interchangeability of all religions and peoples are key to running a liberal democracy, but they make it impossible to have a rational conservative about Islam.
In liberal democracies, no one really discusses Islam as a religion. That discussion is preemptively aborted by the defense of the general category of religion. To criticize Islam is to challenge the category of protection for all religions, much as to attack Communism during the Cold War was to attack the First Amendment.
The general category makes it necessary to subdivide the specific religion or ideology into a moderate majority and a tiny minority of extremists. This categorization tells us nothing about Islam and everything about the political and intellectual classes that refuse to rationally discuss it.
Islam is neither moderate nor extreme. It simply is. Extremism and moderate are an observer perspective. That does not mean that Islam is all one thing, an impermeable block. But the one thing that it is not, is liberal.
Liberal Islam is secular Islam, in the same way that liberal Christianity and liberal Judaism are both secularized in their subservience to liberal values. There are indeed secular Muslims out there, but they are a tiny minority of secularists even in the secular West. Their influence is minimal. And it likely would be minimal even if the Saudis weren’t spending fortunes in oil money to control the expressions of Islam in the West.
Even these secular Muslims are not necessarily non-violent. What they lack is the broader worldview of Islamic nationalism, that some label Islamism. They will support Arab Nationalist terrorism, which defines peoples by nation, rather than the Islamic Nationalism, which defines them by …read more