Like many of you, I've considered the latest outrage in Belgium, and the possible answer to that outrage. Because I've studied history during my spare moments (not a scholar, just curious), I look to history to see how we've solved such problems in the past.
There are those who might say that the United States is a forgiving nation, inclusive in many ways, based on freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom in many ways that most of the world does not enjoy. Others might say that we have our share of national sin. The deplorable treatment of the native Americans, the fact that we engaged in chattel slavery, our reluctance to grant female suffrage. These are just a few examples of our national evolution. I can only hope and pray that we reject the bad, and accentuate the good.
But, I look to our national involvement in World War II, and I'm struck by similarities. Let me expound on those for just a moment.
During WWII, we were at war with Germany and Japan, yet from my readings of that history, we did not hold a grudge against the German people, nor the Japanese. It's true that we disparaged them, called them by demeaning names as propaganda. We were more particularly at war with Nazism and the extreme militaristic Japanese imperialism. Both of these were quasi-religions, with fanatical followers and tactics. The Japanese particularly, with their banzai charges and kamikaze attacks. Suicide missions are nothing new. They were horrific then, and they're horrific now.
We took the war to both countries, and inflicted horrible damage on both Germany and Japan. In both cases, we killed, bombed, strafed and rained scunion on the population until the will to fight had completely left them. The reasons for this are two-fold. One, to defeat their military, both tactically and strategically. Second, to impress on their civil populations that war was horrible, to reduce the national support of the population. If your home, factory, church, (or entire city) is bombed to rubble, you tend to forget about supporting the war effort and spend more time trying to put a roof over your head. After the war, of course, we hanged both Germans and Japanese for crimes committed during the war. It's an object lesson worth learning.
Americans love Germans, and Japanese, as we love every other nationality. But, we could not defeat radical Nazism until we defeated the Nazis and we could not defeat extreme imperial militarization until we defeated Japan. Those were the challenges of the mid 20th century, just as Communism was the challenge of the late 20th century. Now, in the opening years of the 21st century, radical Islam is the challenge to free, democratic nations. They wish to return us to chattel slavery, to religious theocracy, and backwards social norms. I, for one, am unwilling to go.
I fear that this is the problem with Islam. We can't defeat radical Islamic terror without addressing Islam. Islam is more than a religion, it is a political philosophy, and so far we have been unwilling to address it as a philosophy, but I fear that we must address it as such, even if the religion is damaged.
If Islam is unwilling or unable to rein in its radical adherents, they must not complain when we do so. There will be collateral damage, as regrettable as it may be. With the recent attacks in Europe and the United States, we may not long consider the Islamic problem to be simply one of law enforcement. T here may be a backlash, and the peace-loving Muslims may want to consider how that backlash may affect them, should they choose to ignore the problem within their religion.
They might not want to play Cowboys and Muslims. Once the backlash begins, they may not have a chance to influence the outcome. I'm just sayin'.
Edit to add*** Proofread and changed a century. Thanks for noticing.