Ryan Chartrand

Monday marked the four year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule over Iraq. Unfortunately, Iraq isn’t the stable democracy and peaceful country that most Americans want. In fact, as we are all well aware, there has been heavy violence between Sunni and Shiite forces, and a steady stream of U.S. and civilian casualties. At the same time, Iran seems emboldened to defy the international community by pursuing a nuclear weapons program and by taking British hostages. The world is definitely a dangerous place.

Here at home, many Americans have turned against the cause in Iraq, and it seems that war protesters have become even more vocal. Many of these protesters blame America and our “arrogant” foreign policy for the failures in Iraq. In fact, many “Western intellectuals” and progressives believe that it is our intolerance and other “root causes” that explain the tendency toward terrorism and Islamic extremism we see in the Middle East.

After all, terrorism is merely a symptom of disease, but not the disease itself. Many progressives will say that the problems in the Middle East are purely socioeconomic or political and are a result of colonialism, discrimination, the American support of Israel, or a combination of these factors.

However, by blaming it on any of these causes, it neglects the real cause, which is radical Islam. For instance, laying blame on the Arab-Israeli conflict for causing all Islamic extremism cannot explain the brutal murder of over 150,000 in Algeria, the deaths of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or deadly train bombings in Spain. Likewise, blaming colonialism doesn’t quite cut it. If that was the reason, then why aren’t China, India, Vietnam and countless other nations affected by colonialism trying to kill others and impose their will on the world? The answer isn’t discrimination either.

If radical Islam really has nothing to do with Islamic extremism, then the Christians living among these Muslims, under nearly identical circumstances, should be committing violent acts of terrorism; but they aren’t. By failing to acknowledge that the true cause of Islamic extremism is radical Islam, it discourages a more moderate form of Islam to gain traction. I mean, if radical Islam has nothing to do with the problems, then why would Muslims want to pursue more moderate forms of their religion?

While progressives may denounce the war and hold countless protests against American foreign policy, it surprises me that they don’t hold many protests against the violent actions taken in the name of Islam. It surprises me that these progressives, many of whom are ardent feminists, don’t protest the conditions of women in the Islamic world. These women cannot vote, dress, or even drive cars. Under Sharia (Islamic law), stoning and caning are common penalties for women caught in adulteries. Oh, and if you thought it was bad for gays in America, in Iran, following Sharia, they publicly execute gays (this happened to two teenagers in 2005).

Many Americans refrain from attacking radical Islam because they want to appear “tolerant” and because they want to believe in cultural relativism. Fortunately, many Muslims denounce radical Islam and Islamic extremism, but these voices are often overlooked. However, it’s these voices that need to be heard and emphasized. Instead of protesting fervently against America – a country that values freedom, democracy and women’s rights – why not protest against radical Islam, which has at its core polygamy, slavery, the mistreatment of women, death to those who convert away from Islam, and the spreading of Islam through wars and violence? Of course, thinking that way, it might just mean that I’m intolerant.

Brian Eller is a materials engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

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