In the wake of the horrific attack at the Fort Hood military base in Texas earlier this month, and the mounting evidence that the shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was motivated by Islamist beliefs, the media has turned to Middle East studies "experts" for enlightenment.
Instead, what the media, and, by extension, the American public, has received are the moral relativism and obfuscation that too often meet any effort to address Islamism or jihadism in an intellectually honest manner.
Writing for the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, John Esposito, professor and founding director of the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, extends his long tradition of issuing apologias for radical Islam by conflating Hasan's actions with "extremists" of all religions.
In the process, he professes ignorance as to why there might be suspicion directed towards Islam in the wake of 9/11, the worst Islamic terrorist attack in U.S. history:
Why this common tendency and double standard towards Islam and Muslims post-9/11? We judge the religion and majority of mainstream Muslims by the acts of an individual or an aberrant minority of extremists.
Yet, when Jewish fundamentalists kill a prime minister or innocent Palestinians or Christian extremists blow up abortion clinics or assassinate their physicians, somehow the media is capable of sticking to all the facts and distinguishing between the use and abuse of a religion.
Having written this post while news of Hasan's fanatical leanings and possible terrorist connections was still developing, Esposito warns against a "rush to judgment" that might, as he puts it, "negatively impact the American public's perception of Islam."
Heaven forbid Americans start to suspect that Islam itself contains the seeds for Islamism. Contrary to popular belief, this awareness need not implicate all Muslims. Rather, it asks the faithful to address Islamist violence and aggression by implementing theological and cultural reform.
Esposito continues the moral equivalency and non sequiturs in a later "On Faith" post:
No major faith, including the five major world religions I have studied and taught, threatens the safety and security of the U.S. or its citizens. Religious extremists of any faith are a threat but they should be treated as any other extremists, religious or non-religious.
Yes -- but the 14, 374 terrorist attacks worldwide over the past eight years weren't perpetrated at random by members of diverse world religions. They were executed by radical Muslims, every one.
Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, director of the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary, and president of the Islamic Society of North America, is well-known for expressing her own Islamist sympathies. This may be why, in a November 8, 2009 New York Times article, Mattson made this clumsy attempt at obfuscation:
I don't understand why the Muslim-American community has to take responsibility for him. The Army has had at least as much time and opportunity to form and shape this person as the Muslim community.
Arguing that the U.S. military was responsible for cultivating Hasan's Islamist beliefs is laughable.
So is the idea that the Muslim-American community bears no responsibility. After all, the "community" includes radical clerics such as Anwar Al-Awlaki, the former spiritual leader of the Virginia mosque Hasan attended (and who has since praised Hasan for the attack), along with organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose sole purpose is to intimidate into silence anyone who connects Islamic terrorism with Islam.