After blasting Democratic hack Dick Durbin for his untethered comments about U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects at Gitmo, I believe it’s only fair to speak out about an equally stupid comment by Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo on the right. Last week on a radio talk show, Tancredo suggested that America might consider bombing Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, in retaliation if Islamist terrorists set off nuclear weapons inside our borders.
The comment, which so far Tancredo has refused to apologize for, is stupid for several reasons. First, we are not engaged in a war against Islam. Despite Islam’s well-known and obvious tendencies toward violence, bin Laden and his fellow travelers do not represent Islam. They represent an extremist interpretation of Islam currently spreading around the world, a movement that we in the West must fight not only militarily but also intellectually. Provocative comments by Tancredo (whose name, not incidentally, may well remind Muslims of the famous crusader Tancred) unfortunately will only reinforce negative Muslim stereotypes and make Islam more violent than it already is.
Bombing Mecca would tell the Islamic world that our battle is not against extremists who have hijacked their religion, but against Islam itself. If Tancredo thinks it’s hard to defeat a relative handful of terrorists in Iraq, just what will he do with 1.2 billion angry Muslims?
No, Islam is not “a religion of peace,” at least not yet. But we must do all we can to see that it evolves into one, given its history and scriptures. Yes, it is too bad that many Muslims will fly off the handle upon hearing the comments of one obscure congressman. We could wish they would respond by turning the other cheek, but that is a teaching of Jesus, not Muhammad.
Given that reality, Tancredo should live up to the best traditions of Christianity. It’s time to apologize.