But we (the two people who run Citizen Warrior) realized in a conversation the other day that we've never — not once — heard from someone (or even heard about someone) who went the other way. Nobody has ever told us that they were counterjihadists but changed their minds and decided Islam was, in fact, a religion of peace.
Not once have we ever heard of someone who thought Islam was dangerous but then changed their mind because of events in the news or because they read more about it, and decided Islam was okay after all.
Nobody goes back.
This is an encouraging realization. The disturbing nature of Islamic doctrine requires no convincing or persuading. A person only has to look, and there it is. And once it is seen, it cannot be unseen. The article we recently posted to Inquiry Into Islam is a good example. Read it here: I'm Running Out of Ways to Defend Islam. It is the confession of a liberal writer who has been trying to find ways to defend Islam, but the facts keep stacking up against the proposition.
The facts about Islam only move people in one direction: Toward the realization that Islamic doctrine is a straightforward exposition of a pernicious and dangerous ideology. The reason it only moves people in one direction is because it's true.
Always On Watch left a comment on our recent article, How Do You Know You've Gotten Through? She wrote, "The burning alive of the Jordanian pilot did a great deal to wake up those with whom I work. At long last! I've been trying to wake up these folks for years."
We've heard the same comment over and over. Some event, some atrocity, some new outrage caused someone to finally look into it — or it was the straw that broke the camel's back — and they suddenly switched from someone who thought Islam was a religion of peace to someone who realizes it isn't. For some people it was the Madrid train bombings. For some it was the Fort Hood shooting. For some it was Lee Rigby's murder. The atrocities keep stacking up, and with the advent of ISIS and its penchant for videos, the number of non-Muslims waking up has accelerated.
After our conversation, we made a short list of suggestions that arose naturally from this realization:
1. When we are talking to people who still don't accept the painful truth, we should seek to inform, not persuade. We don't need to convince them because there's only one direction it can go. Our purpose should be to just get them to look.
2. When sharing articles and videos, use sources they will respect. If your friend is a liberal, for example, use liberal sources, and don't share anything that puts down liberals or makes fun of them. If your friend is a scientist, use scientific sources, or at least sources that would be respected by a scientist, and don't share anything mystical or religious. And so on.
3. In advertising, it is often said that people need at least six exposures to something before they begin to accept it. So take the pressure off any particular conversation. Say a little something and then let it go. A few weeks later, say a little something else. Don't argue. Don't rub their nose in it. Just give a little information, delivered casually and matter of factly, and then go on to something else. This gives their psyche time to process a very painful idea that nobody in his right mind would want to accept: That 1.6 billion people on the planet claim membership in an ideology whose main purpose is to eliminate all other cultures, using violence if necessary. Let that ugly truth sink into their minds slowly, a little bit at a time.
4. The reason to tread lightly is to prevent them from feeling the need to defend their position. When you push too hard and make someone defend their point of view, they will often hang onto it longer and may hang onto it forever out of sheer stubbornness and self-righteousness. But when someone hasn't had to justify or rationalize their opinion in public, it is much easier for them to change their minds.
5. Probably our best approach is to try to make people curious about Islam, so they look into it for themselves. And direct them to accurate sources.
Remember, nobody goes back. Once Islam is seen for what it is, the illusion is shattered forever. Keep that in mind and take your time.