Pundit Diana West recently jumped on the train of those up in arms about the “26 percent” of young Muslim Americans who support suicide bombings in defense of Islam. First, a fact check. Overall, 78% of those surveyed in the Pew study say suicide bombing is never justified, and after factoring in those who “didn’t know” (didn’t answer the question) only 8% actually accepted suicide bombing at all. Even among those thirty and under, only 15% actually came out and supported suicide bombing “rarely” or “sometimes.”

Consider: thinking attacks are sometimes justified does not make a person a security risk or even necessarily a bad citizen. While thinking suicide bombing can be justified may be radical, it’s a far cry from the mindset of being willing to strap oneself to a bomb. Some people consider Palestinians justified in suicide attacking Israel, meaning that a segment of the broader population believes that suicide bombings are “sometimes justifiable.”

They pew survey asked respondents if they believed bombings in defense of Islam could be justified. As long as the core value of religious freedom is respected and upheld in this nation, very few of those respondents should ever feel that murdering civilians is justified in this country. Antagonizing an entire religion as “qualitatively” lesser than our western beliefs is exactly the type of friction which could exacerbate tensions to the point of violence.

That said, 15% is alarmingly, even shamefully high. Nobody is to blame for suicide attacks except the bombers, and an attitude of acceptance is ridiculous. However, the way West addresses that disappointment is as inappropriate as it is damaging. The globe is shrinking and will continue to do so at ever fast paces. Travel, communication and military technology, as well as the ever present process of globalization will bring the corners of the earth closer together. Islam is a major world religion, one that we cannot ignore but instead must come to terms with.

Rather than write off the entire Muslim American population, or even just condemn those that currently support suicide bombing in some form, America must work to change minds. Blindly adhering to political correctness and multiculturalism serves no purpose, but accepting that Islam is here to stay is an absolute necessity.

Islam cannot be vied as un-American, because Muslim Americans are here to stay, and make up a crucial component of our society. Islam is not qualitatively lesser than western culture, nor are Muslims inherently more violent. If it is true that our American society is worth preserving, that is just all them more reason to find a way to work with Muslim leaders to make the two cultures coincide. Rather than dismiss those who support terrorism, and the religion from which they come, and doom ourselves to a loosing war in a clash of civilizations, America must step up and reassert the values of tolerance and mediation.

See Michael Fields’ Blog at www.fieldsforthought.blogspot.com

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