Whew. Really, seriously, liberals need to keep this sort of thing in mind. Many liberals I know have a tendency to try to ignore or excuse this sort of thing. They point out that most Muslims are non-fundamentalists. They correctly point out that our godawful Mideast policy has contributed greatly to the region's problems, and to the growth of fundamentalism. True, all true. But be that as it may, and for whatever reason, Islam has a problem. And so we have a problem.
I mean, many of these folks make Pat Robertson look downright sane.
Liberalism has been locked in a struggle with religious totalitarianism of one form or another since its emergence. We've entered another phase of that struggle. It's hard to keep this in perspective given the hyperbolic, apoplectic, ethnocentric (sheesh I hate that term) responses to Islam by many on the American right. Yes, many on the right are ethnocentric and many are hostile to any faith other than Christianity. But one shouldn't let the irrationality of one's political opponents push one toward an equal but opposite type of irrationality. In this case: one shouldn't try to excuse the inexcusable. My opponent's opponent is not always my ally.
Perhaps I dwell too much on the fact that some of my liberal friends, immediately after 9/11, steadfastly refused to consider the possibility that OBL might be motivated even in part by anti-liberalism. But I don't think I'm deluded in believing that, in general, liberals somewhat underestimate the badness of Islamic fundamentalism. Perhaps I'm wrong about that. Or perhaps this is a natural reaction to the right's overestimation. But 'natural' does not necessarily mean 'inevitable.' And, furthermore, I think we should also ask to what extent the right's over-estimation is a reaction to our under-estimation.
Perhaps you--like me--are tired of the self-serving "they hate our freedom" mantra. But there's a sizable kernel of truth in it. Fundamentalists of all stripes have never been wild about liberty. Our fundamentalists have been tamed by hundreds of years of emerging liberalism. Their fundamentalists haven't yet. To ignore this--or so I'm suggesting--is to ignore something very important about the current situation.