Eboo Patel is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core, an international nonprofit building the interfaith youth movement. He was appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations. Patel writes "The Faith Divide" blog for The Washington Post, where this post originally appeared.
Did American Muslims just get compared to Nazi's on national TV?
The previous line was that moderate Muslims were not doing enough to stand up against the extremists. Now the category "moderate Muslim" has effectively ceased to exist for huge swaths of the country. In this alternative reality, Muslims, by definition, are extreme. All 1.5 billion of us, including your American Muslim neighbor.
Somebody call George Bush. His country needs him. Bad.
The Bush doctrine can be boiled down to a simple statement: WE, the forces of civilization and freedom, must defeat THEM the forces of darkness and extremism.
For Bush, mainstream moderate Muslims were part of the "we."
After 9/11, Bush went to a mosque and declared that Islam was a religion of peace. He said forcefully that anyone who attacked Arab or Muslim Americans in some kind of twisted attempt at revenge for 9/11 would be met with the full force of American law.
Note the all-important Us vs Them. Terrorists attacked America on 9/11 - not Muslims. Those terrorists twisted a religion of peace. Muslims are our neighbors and friends. Anyone who attacks neighbors and friends under the false premise that their faith or ethnicity links them to terrorists is our enemy.
Let's be clear: I am not writing a support of Bush policies. I am saying that, for President Bush, the entire religion of Islam was not synonymous with extremism and Muslims were not Nazis. Of all the changes in American politics since 2008, the single most disappointing to President Bush, I would imagine, is that people in his party are getting the Us vs Them wrong. Instead of Civilization vs Extremism, they are making it Americans vs Muslims, using the wrong definitions of both America and Muslims.
President Obama caused a stir with his speech at a White House iftar stating that Muslims had the same religious freedom as every other community in America. President Bush used to host White House iftars too. I believe, if he were President today, Bush would have given the same speech. I wish he would emerge from his ranch in Texas to give it now.