Among the many things I read in the Chicago Tribune today (that's the actual paper edition, mind you, but I will obligingly post a link for you online masses to the digital version, sigh) was an editorial headlined "What does the West do now?" I'm not sharing it for its stark either/or characterization of what it calls the "militant Islamist assaults on liberal Western lands and their freedoms" but rather for one of the points it makes in its list of suggestions of what, in fact, "the West" can do now.
One of its bullet points is that "More Westerners would be open to calls for tolerance of Muslim immigrants if more leaders within Islam would publicly, and vigorously, denounce jihadist sentiments that attract some Muslims to religious extremism."
Apart from the troubling phrase "Muslim immigrants" (immigrants go from nation to nation; the religion isn't really a factor; the phrase dangerously implies there aren't native-born Muslims in these so-called liberal Western countries, etc.), I would love to see more of a discussion of this suggestion.
Particularly, I think it's a good idea to -- and I wish more people would -- call for leaders to "publicly, and vigorously, denounce" jihadist sentiments. In other words, your half-assed calls for peace ain't cuttin' it, might be another way of putting it.
But lest you think I am applying this only to Islam vs. its extremists, which I think misses large parts of the problem, I wonder if we shouldn't call for more leaders in other areas to publicly, and vigorously, denounce the psychos who act in their name.
Should evangelical Christians be urged to publicly, and vigorously, denounce the Ku Klux Klan? The Westboro Baptist Church? The Quiverfull movement?
Should Mormon leaders publicly, and vigorously, denounce polygamy? I'm forever annoyed by how non-Mormons call the shots in associating current Mormons with this abandoned practice. One can only assume that the church leaders tacitly support the idea of bringing it back someday when they refuse to publicly, and vigorously, denounce it.
Will any of our political leaders ever publicly, and vigorously, denounce the warmongers and torturemongers in their ranks? Or the awful shenanigans in countries that have oil/other resources we want? What if people in the military could have publicly and vigorously denounced the horrible Iraq war choices without being called unpatriotic, or worse? What if Edward Snowden had been able to publicly and vigorously denounce unchecked unfounded surveillance without then having to flee as a refugee?
Or will everyone just keep playing the Oh-my-gosh-I-wouldn't-want-to-offend-anybody game?
Many of us from Arizona have to spend more time than we'd like publicly and vigorously denouncing the psychos who get themselves elected with alarming frequency there. Publicly and vigorously denouncing people who claim to speak for you isn't so bad. It can be fun. Try it sometime!