I DON'T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND what's going on," I said rather undiplomatically to an acquaintance who muttered, "It's a dumb war. All the Iraq war has done is make al Qaeda angrier." I couldn't help but set her straight. "It doesn't matter what we do," I said. "We could pull every troop out of the entire Middle East, and send them ten billion dollars as an apology, and they would still want to fight us."
She looked like she was going to say something, but I was on a roll. "There is a very dedicated group of believers that want to follow the Koran to the letter," I said, "which means they feel it is their moral duty to make war on unbelievers until the whole world submits to Islam. They don't just hate the West. They hate moderate Muslims even more. They consider a Muslim who wants democracy to be an 'apostate,' and the punishment for that is death."
"What's an apostate," she asked.
"Someone who has renounced Islam. Once you are a Muslim, you cannot get out. If you try, you are an apostate."
"What's that got to do with wanting a democracy?"
"That's one thing a lot of people don't realize," I said, "Islam is a complete system. It is a religion, in the sense that we think, but it is also a system of law and government, and that's an important part of the religion. The government and laws help enforce Islamic behavior. A democracy is a 'man-made' government, and that is strictly against Islamic law. The government must be made by Allah, and must enforce the dress codes and lack of women's rights, etc."
She was quiet. And I didn't really know where to go from here. So I tried to conclude: "Something must be done. This group of Koran-thumping fundamentalists want to give us a choice: Submit to Islam or die. They are not interested in any other option, and they will not stop. They are totally committed to their cause. It seems to be a very wise and noble task to try to help the majority of modern-thinking Muslims to create a democracy, and to help defend the fledgling government from the fanatics until that government can defend itself. If we can do that, everyone but al Qaeda will be better off."
I was glad for the opportunity to present to this acquaintance a point of view she has probably never heard. From the look on her face, I could tell I gave her food for thought. More of these kinds of conversations need to happen all over the free world. Maybe you could instigate one of these conversations today by forwarding someone this email or saying something, even a little, when you hear someone spouting the opinion of the biased mainstream media. This is a war of memes and you are on the front line.