Up Against Fanaticism

Someone at work just sent me an editorial by Phil Lucas, Executive Editor, Panama City News Herald. The online version is here:

http://www.newsherald.com/viewpoint/phillucas/040404.shtml

There are some interesting points that I find difficult to refute and uncomfortable accepting. I’ve pretty much accepted the basics for some time, but the larger picture painted by Mr. Lucas is disturbing. He says,

We could fill the newspaper every morning with mobs of fanatical Muslims.

They can’t get along with their neighbors on much of the planet: France, Chechnya, Bosnia, Indonesia, Spain, Morocco, India, Tunisia, Somalia, etc. etc. etc. Can anybody name three ongoing world conflicts in which Muslims are not involved? Today, where there is war, there are fanatical Muslims.

We might quibble about who started what conflicts, but look at the sheer number of them.

And goes on to say,

Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state and feckless appeaser who helped get us into this mess, said last week Muslims still resent the Crusades. Well, Madam Albright, if Westerners were not such a forgiving people, we might resent them too.

Let’s recap the Crusades. Muslims invaded Europe, and when they reached sufficient numbers, they imposed their intolerant religion upon Westerners by force. Christian monarchs drove them back and took the battle to their homeland. The fight lasted a couple of centuries, and we bottled them up for 1,000 years.

Now, a millennium later, Muslims have expanded forth again. Ask France.

Ask England. Ask Manhattan. Two-and-a-half years ago fanatical Muslims laid siege to us. We woke up to the obvious. Our president announced it would be a very long war, then took the battle to the Islamic homeland.

What isn’t explicitly said, but bothers me so much, is that we might be in a position such that we have to declare on a planet wide scale that there is a religion that we will not tolerate the existence of. Wherever, whenever a sufficient size group of fanatical Muslims exist we are compelled to imprison and/or kill them to preserve our lives and freedoms. And if that is true how can we avoid sliding down the slippery slope in regards to some other group of religious (or non religious) people and justifying the use of our military against them? What is the criteria that we can use unambiguously such that when we use force we are justified? This isn’t the same as declaring war on a nation state. These people exist in nearly all nations and are willing to use force, suicide bombers in public places, car bombs in the basement garages of office buildings, and nearly any means you can think of to kill the unbelievers. We can’t fight just the people wearing Swastikas on their hats and when the central government collapses declare victory and go home a few years later. This is a much, much different type of war than we have ever had to fight before. How do we win this fight without risking the loss of the freedoms we are fighting for? Do we plant eavesdropping bugs or informants in mosques and/or churches to see if the clerics are advocating violence? And when they realize their houses of worship are bugged do we put bugs in their homes? Everyone’s home?

Does anyone have any good answers?