If you want to understand the role radical Islam has played in terrorist attacks like the one in Paris on Friday, Vox will be of no help to you. Like many on the Left, the writers there are stricken with a crippling inability to recognize Islam as the motivating force behind such barbarism, even when the perpetrators plainly declare they are killing in the name of the faith.
The day after the most recent attacks, Vox writer Max Fisher entered the fray to assure everyone that Islam wasn't what motivated the Islamists' murderous acts. Rather, the terrorists were simply hateful people. To boot, Fisher's apologia has all the cogency of a Tom Friedman column written under the influence of turpentine fumes.
Here's Fisher laying the groundwork for his predictably gauche assessment of the situation:
"The debate, on the surface, often turns on theological questions: Is ISIS's piety sincere or just a cynical tool? Does its horrific ideology have real roots in Islamic text and history, or is it all distortions and lies? Does it violate Islamic law? Just how Islamic is the Islamic State, in its words and deeds?"
To Fisher these four questions, which seek to understand the extent to which Islam influences ISIS's behavior, are "surface" questions. But in reality, these aren't surface questions; instead they are the questions we should be asking and trying to answer. And those of us who are given to reality-based analysis already have.
But Fisher wants to go "deeper." Take a look at his very next paragraph and try not to scratch your head:
"But often, there is a deeper debate just below the surface, or sometimes not hidden at all: To what degree is Islam to blame for ISIS? And, just beneath that, the same question put a different way: Is ISIS what it is because Islam is inherently violent?"
What? "And, just beneath that, the same question put a different way."
If it's the same question but just put another way, it's not "beneath" or "deeper" than the question asked just before because, as you just said, it's the same question.
Truth be told, in the two paragraphs above, Fisher has more or less asked the same question six ways. All seek to ascertain the extent to which ISIS follows Islam, and by extension seek to determine Islam's culpability in the savagery of ISIS. That's it. His pretense of going "below the surface" is nonsense.
Speaking of nonsense, Fisher holds up none other than the shifty Reza Aslan as having authored the perfect response to those who allege that there's a problem with Islam that's leading to atrocities like the Paris butchery before concluding:
"Someone who brings to Islam a disposition for political violence will find justification for it, as well as ideas on how and why to indulge that disposition. But the exact same could be said of anyone who brings to Islam a disposition for peace and tolerance, as most people of any religion do. It is true that Islam's text and history might shape how a violent and hateful person channels their hate and violence. But it is not the case that Islam will make them hateful or make them violent. That might not be an obvious distinction to everyone, but it is a crucial one."
Notice Fisher's sneaky qualifier, which presupposes that the attacks in Paris were perpetrated by people with "a disposition to political violence." Therefore, Islam is the merely the vehicle for their violent inclinations. In Fisher's mind, Islam -- and religion generally -- can never be implicated as the root or at least primary cause of an act of violence or hate. He doesn't say how or why hateful or violent people get that way -- be it innate or learned -- but Fisher knows one thing: Islam is never the motivating factor for hate and violence, only the outlet through which it manifests.
This scarily prevalent view among the Left is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Anyone who is familiar with the Quran and the Hadith is thankful that the vast majority of Muslims do not follow these scriptures' more heinous preachments, which are numerous. But some do because they believe the Quran to be the unerring word of Allah and the Hadith to be the legitimate teachings of Muhammad, and these Muslims can find commands -- not mere justifications, but explicitcommands from Allah -- to carry out some of the most horrific acts imaginable.
Fisher would have us believe that some people are just so hateful, that they would kill themselves just to murder other people, like three of the Paris attackers did, like the 19 September 11th hijackers did, and like the countless others who collectively detonate themselves on a regular basis because they regard martyrdom as a supreme value. In fact, there have been at least 305 suicide bombings carried out this year resulting in the deaths of more than 2,500 people. Virtually, if not all of them have been carried out by Islamic extremists. Most of the victims have been Muslims.
Or take the January attacks in Paris by Islamists. Those were perpetrated by men looking to punish cartoonists for drawing their prophet, and during their killing spree screamed, "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!" because Islam forbids depictions of Muhammad. There is simply no squaring these facts with the idea that such violence is really motivated by something that fundamentally doesn't involve Muhammad.
And if it is true that hateful people simply bring to religion their hatefulness and find all kinds of justifications to do bad deeds, why is Islam the preferred channel through which such hateful maniacs carry out their homicidal inclinations? As horrible as some on the Christian Right can be when it comes to gays or minorities, their hatred virtually never manifests in mass killings. (For those who will inevitably invoke Timothy McVeigh here, please note that he was actually agnostic. Furthermore, his attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City was motivated by his belief that the U.S. government was tyrannical. He did not think he was carrying out god's will.)
Until some liberals recognize the connection between religious belief and behavior as it pertains to radical Islam, they will remain utterly clueless on what is perhaps the greatest threat to civilized people around the world -- not only those in Muslim countries, but especially those in Muslim countries since it is Muslims who are most likely to be victimized.