Common sense seems to be in short supply these days....but that's nothing new.
On the nativist side of things, we have The Donald putting out the unwelcome mat for Muslim, even talking about barring US-citizen Muslims from returning from overseas; that might make sense for jihadis but not as a general rule. That makes so much hash out of the First Amendment, it's scary. Southern Baptist policy guy Russell Moore make this salient point-
Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians. A government that issues ID badges for Muslims simply because they are Muslims can, in the fullness of time, demand the same for Christians because we are Christians.
Any precedent that gets applied to Muslims in a nativist administration can get turned onto any religious group a government doesn't like. That's why the First Amendment is in the spot that it's in.
That's not to say that there isn't a problem with militant variants of Islam. It's not representative of the whole, but it takes fewer hermeneutical twists to get to let's-get-ready-to rumble mode than other faiths. That's not polite to say in liberal company, but true nonetheless.
Liberals don't want Muslims harassed just for being of the wrong faith; AG Lynch seemed to be more concerned with shutting down any anti-Muslim backlash after San Bernadino than in the shooting itself.
Part of that is to demonize folks who may have a not-irrational fear of closet jihadis for political point, but there is also a legitimate humane response to stop bullying of minorities. As one who put up with a lot of teasing as a middle-schooler, I have quite a bit of empathy towards put-upon minorities, so that liberal impulse does resonate despite ISIS' PR gains as of late.
Hillary Clinton had an interesting reply to the issue,
Hillary Clinton explained on Sunday that she won't use the term "radical Islam" because it "sounds like we are declaring war against a religion."
"It doesn't do justice to the vast number of Muslims in our country and around the world who are peaceful people," Clinton said in an appearance on ABC's "This Week."
"Radical" isn't all that useful in and of itself, just designating something far from the norm. Emergent leader Shane Claybourn, who'd likely be in Hillary's corner rather than The Donald's had a book subtitled-"Living as an Ordinary Radical". That kind of radical missional attitude would likely get praise from the liberal camp, but the militant radicalism of ISIS-style Sunni Islam is what is at issue.
On one level, Clinton is right; it's not a great label. However, it's one that resonates with the average voter. Sufi Muslims with their mystic take on Islam would be somewhat radical, but they're peaceful by and large, but that theological fine point isn't on our political agenda.
"No. 2, it helps to create this clash of civilizations that is actually a recruiting tool for ISIS and other radical jihadists who use this as a way of saying, 'We are in a war against the West -- you must join us,'" she said.
She herself goes with "radical jihadists", (moderate jihadists are short on ammo), which avoids appending Islam to the end, but hearkens to it by borrowing the Arabic for "struggle" to describe them.
This is a clash of cultures. The back-to-basics impulse in Islam goes back to an era where it was expanding by force and fighting the infidels, where there was no separation of mosque and state, just one overarching theocracy. A more housebroken version of that Salafi theme works on rooting out sinful stimuli in folks' lives, but a more militant one wants to revert back to that holy autocratic past, rooting out such haram stimuli from both the private and public square.
The Arab world seems ill-prepared to take on Western-style liberal democracy, leaning either towards tribal monarchs, military strongmen or jihadist preachers, although the line between the last two is often very loose, as some Baathist elements are more than happy to hook up with ISIS. That's a harsh reality that neither liberals nor neocons want to face up to.
The clash is against a militant variant of Islam, of which ISIS is the flavor of the month. Certain variants of Islam, including Salafi and Wahhabi strains, lend themselves to a jihadist take, so mosques from those schools of thought will likely get more of an eagle-eye than less strident variants. There's a lot of geopolitics at play in that area, as Saudi Arabia actively promotes the Wahhabi take with its petrodollars; politely reining in Wahhabism will mean ticking off the Saudis a bit.
Islam is a tertiary issue. Back-to-basics Islam is a secondary issue, for it often is a gateway drug to jihadist views. Militant Islam is the primary issue.
Nativists need to turn off the automatic setting on the machine gun and pick at the parts of Islam that are truly at issue. Violent segments of a faith are fair game for police action.
Liberals have to be willing to note the religious nature of the jihadis. While Islam doesn't have a corner on the market for religiously-inspired violence, it's got a huge market share, and one would ignore that at one's peril.