We Americans must take a stand against our own extremists

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Americans must take a stand against our own extremists
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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during the CNN Republican presidential undercard debate in Las Vegas on Dec. 15. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Kathleen Parker Opinion writer December 18 at 7:25 PM

When President Obama addressed the nation after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., he reiterated the call to resist animus toward Muslims.

This was a familiar message — the same we had heard from President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks. We aren’t at war with Islam, both presidents have said, but with an ideology built on distortions (or medieval-minded interpretations) of the Islamic religion.

Kathleen Parker writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary In 2010. View Archive
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Even so, many Americans still need to be reminded that Muslims, rather than our enemies, are our friends, neighbors, colleagues, scholars, leaders, doctors, mechanics. They’re our fellow Americans. Even so, we continue to struggle even with the terminology we use to distinguish between everyday Muslims and radicalized terrorists.

This is particularly distressing given that language and communication are so crucial to winning what is in the long term an ideological war. None too soon, we’re beginning to hear reasonable voices rise above the din of nationalistic jargon from some of our lesser, if glaring, lights.

One such voice belongs to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). In his finest debate hour, Graham issued a passionate apology to Muslims for Donald Trump, who has said among other things that we need a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do — declare war on Islam itself,” said Graham. “To all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, like the king of Jordan and the president of Egypt, I am sorry. He does not represent us.”

Graham then thanked Muslim Americans for their military service to our country. Bravo.

A full-page headline in the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper, similarly caught my eye recently: “To All Muslims: Trump Does Not Speak For Us.”