Howard Dean: These terrorists are about as Muslim as I am

Via Newsbusters. Alternate headline: “Howard Dean added to terrorist watch list.”

A good example of rhetoric that undermines public confidence in the political class, even though all Dean-o’s trying to say here (I think) is that law-abiding Muslims shouldn’t be held responsible for terrorist rampages. The “tiny minority of extremists” read on jihadism to the same end was a staple of Bush’s administration, but that concept implies that they do indeed function within Islam in some sense. That’s what it means to be a minority within a larger population rather than a population in your own right. Lately, though, that concept seems to have slid towards insisting that jihadis simply aren’t Muslim in any sense of the word. Sure, they may swear by the Koran, and sure, most of them come from the Middle East, and sure, they act with plenty of moral support from Salafist clerics based in the same country where Mecca and Medina are located, but hey — that doesn’t make them Islamic. Remember this passage from Obama’s “let’s bomb ISIS” speech in September?

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.

I’ve never understood why some western pols, usually but not always liberals, feel it’s necessary to go that extra yard and start pronouncing on what is and isn’t authentically Islamic. It reeks of sweaty doth-protest-too-much reassurance. If you feel obliged to remind Americans for the thousandth time that it’s unfair to punish one individual Muslim for the actions of another — and if you do still feel that need after the first 999 iterations, you should probably reflect on your own prejudices — then just say that. Shifting into Imam Dean mode and issuing a fatwa rendering the Charlie Hebdo terrorists haram looks ridiculous, a reminder that the first impulse of the political class after people have been murdered by terrorists is to worry about Muslims. A roomful of satirists gets machine-gunned by a pair of jihadi degenerates and this is Howard Dean’s gut reaction?

This is actually a perfect complement to the recent speech by Sisi, Egypt’s new president/dictator, on the crisis within Islam. He had an angle in delivering it, of course: The more he can turn Egyptian public opinion against Islamists, particular his nemeses in the Muslim Brotherhood, the more license he’ll have to suppress them in protecting his own power. Even so, click the last link and contrast his rhetoric with Dean’s. Who’s closer to reality?

Update: Ezra Klein also sees nothing religious about this attack, no sirree. And unlike Dean, he can read minds:

But this isn’t about Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, any more than a rape is about what the victim is wearing, or a murder is about where the victim was walking.

What happened today, according to current reports, is that two men went on a killing spree. Their killing spree, like most killing sprees, will have some thin rationale. Even the worst villains believe themselves to be heroes. But in truth, it was unprovoked slaughter. The fault lies with no one but them and their accomplices. Their crime isn’t explained by cartoons or religion. Plenty of people read Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and managed to avoid responding with mass murder. Plenty of people follow all sorts of religions and somehow get through the day without racking up a body count. The answers to what happened today won’t be found in Charlie Hebdo’s pages. They can only be found in the murderers’ sick minds.

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