Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Bush and Powell Soft On Islam

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
President Bush finds himself in a rare disagreement with conservatives in his party over his efforts to portray Islam as a peaceful religion that is not responsible for anti-American terrorism. In a score of speeches since the Sept.11, 2001 attacks, the president has called for tolerance of Muslims, describing Islam as "a faith based upon peace and love and compassion" and a religion committed to "morality and learning and tolerance." But a large number of foreign policy hawks--some of them with advisory roles in the Bush administration--have joined religious conservatives in taking issue with Bush's characterizations. While most of them understand the political rationale for Bush's statements, they say the claim is dishonest and destined to fail. The administration, and moderate governments in Arab and Muslim nations are struggling to prevent the war on terrorism from becoming what Osama bin Laden wants: a war of civilization between the Judeo-Christian West and a resentful and impoverished Muslim world. Calling Islam a peaceful religion "is an increasingly hard argument to make," said Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan official who serves on the Bush Pentagon's Defence Policy Board. "The more you examine the religion, the more militaristic it seems. After all, its founder, Mohammed, was a warrior, not a peace advocate like Jesus." Adelman agreed that describing Islam as peaceful "is the right political argument, but it's a harder intellectual argument to make." Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell said recently that he is trying to expand programs to bring educators, journalists, and political and religious leaders from Islamic countries to the United States. "We are committed to ensuring that our programs reach out to Muslims in all walks of life," Powell told a gathering of Muslim-Americans at an Iftaar, the end-of-the-day meal that breaks daylong fasts during the holy month of Ramadan. In a possible allusion to conservative Christians, whom Powell castigated for its warnings about the militant doctrines of Islam, Powell described extremism and violence as America's greatest enemies: "We must not listen to the siren song of the bigots, extremists who cloak themselves in false spirituality in an attempt to divide and to weaken us." (From Intercessors for America, and Crosswalk)

Are Bush and Powell perhaps soft on Muslims and unduly critical of conservative Christians?

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