When it comes to political Islam, or radical Islam or Islamism or Islamofascism, or whatever designation one chooses to use, there are a number of ways non-jihadis look at it.
There is Obama.
There is Pamela Geller.
And there is Daniel Pipes.
The Obama Way (Deny, Deny, Deny)
Barack Obama claims that when jihadis fly planes into the World Trade Center, or slaughter innocent people in San Bernardino while crying out "Alahu Akbar!" that this has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.
George W. Bush famously referred to Islam as "the religion of peace."
Both men, naturally, were lying through their teeth.
But one way that people judge Islamic terrorism is to deny that it has anything whatsoever to do with Islam. I was back east awhile ago and met with friends. I was talking to one of my buddies over a beer about those fun-filled fellahs in ISIS. And I said something like, "Well, political Islam is a real problem. It results in wide-scale violence all around the world."
And he said, "This is not about Islam. It is about terrorism. Not Islamic terrorism, but anybody terrorism."
I looked at him with my mouth hanging open and blinked.
"Excuse me," I said, "but it was not Mormons who killed 3,000 people in New York on 9/11. It was not Buddhists who killed those people in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher grocery store. It is not Rosicrucians who are destroying antiquities throughout the Middle East."
The Pamela Geller Way (Islam is Islam)
Pamela Geller, unless she has had a change of heart recently, would agree, as would her friend and partner, Robert Spencer. I like Geller very much because she is both smart and brave. However, if Barack Obama thinks that "violent extremism" has nothing to do with Islam, Geller believes that violent aggression is absolutely embedded in Islam.
She has a perfectly reasonable case because the Koran does, in fact, call upon devout Muslims to kill the infidel if he refuses submission. There is simply no getting around this hard fact. This is not speculative. It is not a matter of interpretation. It is right there in black and white for all to see.
Some, of course, would argue that the Bible is at least as violent as the Quran, if not considerably more so. The difference - as anyone with two brain cells to rub together can tell you - is that violence in the Bible is descriptive while calls for violence in the Quran are prescriptive.
The Quran quite literally calls for violence against non-Muslims.
The Michael Lumish Way (or, really, the Daniel Pipes' Way)
Geller and Spencer are correct that calls for violence are embedded directly within the Quran and the Hadiths, however most Muslims are not particularly interested. Most Muslims, like most Christians and most Jews, do not heed the stupidity embedded in our respective faiths and want, more than anything, the freedom to pursue their own interests.
In the United States this is certainly true. In Europe it is different and in the Arab-Muslim Middle East it is entirely different. In the United States, at least in my experience, native-born Muslims are Americans first, just as I am an American first. We may have different faiths, or no faith whatsoever, but we speak the same language and tend to share similar values.
Pipes's idea, if I understand him correctly, is that the way to defeat political Islam is with regular Muslims. For those of you who may arch an eye-brow, remember that it was the ordinary folk backing the Egyptian military, with Obama's disapproval, that took down the Muslim Brotherhood in that country. And the Brotherhood, let us not forget, is the Big Daddy of Islamist organizations.
The Brotherhood is the father of both al-Qaeda and Hamas and, yet, Obama supported their bid for power in Egypt. He sent Hillary to encourage their smooth transition into office after winning a fraudulent election wherein Christian Copts were often kept from voting at the point of a rifle.
It was Brotherhood founder Sayyid Qutb who wrote Our Struggle with the Jews.
The problem is that regular Muslims seem indifferent to poltical Islam (the call to Sharia) or its violence against Muslims and non-Muslims alike.