The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


A frequent comment, especially from the right, is that the U.S. gets surprisingly little credit from the Islamic world for its good deeds on behalf of Muslims. For example, see today's Belgravia Dispatch.

The expectation for such credit rests on the presumption that there is some fellow-feeling among Muslims, and in particular between Muslims of widely different sects and cultures. What real evidence is there for such a feeling?

It is part of our blindness to treat Islam as a single religion, for example by saying that "a mosque" was damaged without specifying the sect to which the mosque belonged. We should insist on distinctions like this, not only in news reporting but in official policy. The oft-repeated statement that "Islam is not the enemy" begs a definition of Islam, and protects our enemies without fully reassuring our friends.