To the editor:
David Burress’ critique of Charles Krauthammer’s July 2 column on Islamist violence fails to engage the point. First, Burress sets up a strawman scenario where all members of an ethnic group are persecuted to catch a small, troublesome subset. Krauthammer neither expressed nor implied such a proposal regarding terrorists.
Then, regarding Krauthammer’s specific concern — Islamism — Burress professes confusion, defining the term dismissively as anyone “we don’t like” or, trivially, as “Muslims who are angry at America.”
Let me help. “Islamism,” in Krauthammer’s argument, means the politicized, right-wing, militant Islam that opposes classical liberalism, democracy, secular government, gender equality, sexual freedom, free speech, open inquiry, religious pluralism and a host of other modern values, an ideology that would substitute Sharia law for Enlightenment ideals everywhere, under threat of violence. Does Burress believe we can’t address that threat without impugning all Muslims, that we must allow retrograde extremists to hide behind the respect we extend moderates and progressives?
Ordinary, peaceful Muslims are the principal victims of militant Islamism and deserve our unstinting help. Undiscerning arguments that treat an attack on extremists as an attack on all Muslims patronize and abandon the very people Burress would defend, making a muddle of both reason and morality.
Ideologies inspire actions. To candidly recognize and oppose those that are most threatening to everyone’s well-being is not bigotry, but humanity.