A Report Card For Islam

                                              A report card for Islam                                                   By Henry LambYears ago, elementary school children brought home report cards that contained a graded item called "Works and plays well with others."  A "U" for Unsatisfactory on this graded item often resulted in the same consequence as an  "F" in an academic subject.  The Islamic world has certainly earned a "U" for their response in recent days, to the cartoons published in the Danish press.It doesn't matter that the cartoons may have been irreverent, or tasteless; rioting in the streets, and destroying property is an inappropriate response.  The Islamic world does not work and play well with others - when others fail to behave as the Islamic world wishes.It is the entire Islamic world that must be given the "Unsatisfactory" grade, not just the fanatics who perpetrate the violence.   The Islamic world should be the loudest voice in condemning the violence of the fanatics.  If there has been an Islamic voice of condemnation at all, it has been a muted whisper.  The fanatics get the "U" for their actions; the rest of the Islamic world gets the "U" for their inaction.The Islamic world should explain why a derisive cartoon image of Mohammed is a sin worthy of death, but it is perfectly acceptable for the state-controlled Iranian press to sponsor a cartoon contest depicting the slaughter of innocent Jews.  They should explain why it is "cruel and unusual punishment" for a U.S. soldier to touch the Koran while handing it to a prisoner, but it is perfectly acceptable to burn the Bible and murder the people in private homes where a Bible is found.  The Islamic world should explain why it is virtuous for a Muslim to strap on a bomb and explode it in a public market place filled with innocent women and children.  The Islamic world should explain why they continue to allow the fanatics to kidnap and behead journalists and construction workers, and commit wholesale executions in the name of Allah.There is no rational explanation, of course, for the behavior of the Islamic fanatics.  And it is up to the rest of the Islamic world to either convince the fanatics of the error of their ways, or to disavow the antics of the fanatics as contrary to the spirit of Islam.  Continued silence from the non-fanatic Islamic world is tacit approval of their behavior.The rest of the world that is not Islamic has no chance of convincing the fanatics of anything.  It is a task that must be undertaken by the Islamic leadership.  Failure by the leadership to perform this vital task will not simply tarnish Islam in the eyes of the world, it will hasten a global culture clash that will make the Crusades look like a schoolyard skirmish by comparison.The image Islam has presented to the world in recent years is irrational, and uncivilized.  It may well be true that the vast majority of the Islamic world is quite rational and civilized, but the image the world has seen is just the opposite.  The rational and civilized Muslims are being represented by the fanatics.  Unless the fanatics are isolated by, and from, the rest of the Islamic world, then the great historic tradition of Islam will continue to suffer.The conflict between Islam and the rest of the world is gathering steam.  The rest of the world has been restrained in response to repeated attacks by the fanatics. But somewhere, there is an end to this restraint.   There was a scene in a movie in which the good guy found himself confronted by a half-dozen bad guys.  He fought ferociously and, with muscle and superior fighting skills, eventually disabled all the bad guys.  Just as he realized he had won, another bad guy emerged, bigger than all the rest.  The good guy didn't fight, he pulled his gun and shot the bad guy between the eyes.The non-Islamic world has been fighting the bad guys when and wherever they emerge.  Sooner or later, the good guys are going to pull their guns and shoot the bad guys between the eyes.   It will not be just a handful of Islamic fanatics lying on the floor.  It will be thousands and thousands of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims lying in the aftermath of brutal annihilation.  There will surely be attacks and catastrophe in the western world, but most of the devastation will be in the Islamic world, where people need hope and help, not death and destruction.It is the Islamic world that bears the responsibility for putting a bridle on their fanatic brethren.  The Islamic world should either convert the fanatics, or isolate them, ostracize them, and deliver them up to justice for their crimes.   Anything less is unsatisfactory.

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