"I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism." - P. D. James
I grew up in Southeast Asia and was taught by my parents to respect all religions. In Thailand, where I spent most of my time, the King himself sets this example as "Guardian of All Faiths". During the course of my life I have visited and paid my respects at the Vatican, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, and the holy sites in Jerusalem.
In fact, when I was in Jerusalem I went to the Temple Mount on Friday and inspected the al Aqsa mosque - originally a Christian church* - and the Dome of the Rock. Saturday morning I went to the Grand Synagogue on King George Street, and I attended Sunday services at the Anglican Cathedral in East Jerusalem. After that I considered I'd had my batteries charged.
In the time since then, I have lived and worked in several Moslem countries. On two of my tours to the sand countries, I lived with the Arabs, ate from the communal bowl with them, and upon occasion I dressed like them. I was deep in the desert, my life was literally in their hands, and on one occasion my life was saved by a Muslim. During this time, I learned that Muslims believe that we are all born Muslim, that we have to make a conscious decision not to be Muslim.
Islam considers itself to be the natural way of all creation. That is, Islam is the original, perfect state of being. So, when a person "converts" to Islam, he or she is actually reverting to their own original nature. Islam considers anyone who adheres to this state of being to be a Muslim, regardless of when or where she or he lived. For instance, Islam believes that Jesus was a Muslim, though he died hundreds of years before Islam's historical founding.
Allah, the Islamic name for God, refers to the same God worshiped by Christians and Jews; the "Abrahamic" God. Thus, Muslims revere the prophets of Christianity and Judaism, including Jesus, Moses, Elijah, etc., and consider the Bible and Torah to be divinely-inspired, albeit corrupted.
In fact, to become a Muslim, all you need to do is recite the Shahada, the declaration of faith:
أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله الحقيقي، ومحمدا رسول الله
"I testify that there is no true god but God, and Muhammad is God's messenger (prophet)."
Of course, if by saying the Shahada you become a Muslim, then I am a Muslim. I would like to go back to Jerusalem some time soon and get my batteries re-charged. I don't know about the al-Aqsa Mosque, however. Times have changed, unfortunately.
Bottom Line Up Front:
At some point between the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th 2001, the Muslim religion was hijacked by fanatical Fundamentalists. In every single Muslim society on Earth, if you talk with them long enough it always goes to the lowest common denominator: America is the Great Satan and Israel is the Little Satan. We are Crusaders and the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Jew's plan to expand out to the land between the rivers - Tigris and Euphrates - and of course this must never be allowed, Israel must be driven into the sea.
They will look you right in the eye and tell you this like they're discussing the weather.
It doesn't matter that the United States has done more than any country on Earth - to include the oil-rich sheikdoms of the Arabian peninsula - towards an autonomous Palestinian state. It doesn't matter that we stopped the Serbs and the Croats from slaughtering the Bosnian Muslims, or that we stepped in and waged a war against Serbia on behalf of the Kosovar Muslims, resulting in the establishment of a Muslim country on what is sacred ground to the Serbian Orthodox Christians.
All of the above is simply besides the point.
Nowadays Islam is at war with the West, led by al Qaeda. The ultimate de-centralized guerrilla movement, all you have to do to be a part of Team AQ is speak up. They will find you, they will fund you and they will send you on your way to martyrdom. Witness: the Shoe Bomber. Witness: the Underwear Bomber. Witness: the Times Square Bomb Plot.
Hasan the Fort Hood shooter, and the Boston Marathon Bombers are examples of self-recruited al Qaeda operators.
And these are only the examples in the United States. Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists have been active throughout Europe, of course, where it is easier for them to operate given proximity to arms and explosives in the Middle East, and to hide out in the Muslim colonies that flourish nowadays in every large city on the Continent. The Bosnian Muslims were an exception to the rule but since the NATO incursion that ended the Bosnian war, their country has become infiltrated by Fundamentalists.
Not all of the Muslims are for al Qaeda, but none of them dare speak out against the terror organization. Not all Muslims believe in the extreme interpretation of Islamic Law - Sharia - but none of them will speak out against it. Witness: Salman Rushdie. The assassination attempts against the author of The Satanic Verses and lethal attacks on several critics of Islam warned Muslims early on the penalty for anything remotely perceived as blasphemy, or anti-Islam. The result is there is no longer any such thing as a 'moderate' Muslim.
Islam has been converted into a misogynist suicidal death cult, engaged in total war against the West - Jihad - holy war. The ultimate goal of the most extreme fanatics is to kill each and every one of us who does not convert, keeping only some of our women as breeders and our children as slaves.
A dilemma exists: if we declare this conflict to be a holy war, then we have just lost. This is because we will have played into the extremists' hands, and turned against us whatever 'moderate' Muslims that still do exist.
And so we do not focus on Muslims in our security operations. We tolerate their oppression of women and say nothing. Christians are killed and churches burned in Moslem countries and we say nothing. Muslim intimidation of businesses and individuals exists in the cities of Europe, and yet to speak out against these outrages and atrocities is somehow perceived as intolerant, bigoted.
The ironic thing is that we afford political correctness to the most intolerant group of individuals on the planet.
* the original building where al Aqsa mosque now stands was a Christian church built by the Roman Emperor Justinian in the 530s, consecrated to the Virgin Mary and named "Church of Our Lady."