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Driver's Seat
A growing weariness of things Islamic
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I’m directing this column to Muslim readers who may be out there. Also, to students of theology or anyone else familiar with the Koran – the writings by Mohammed on which the Muslim religion is based.

I want any of those folks to let me know exactly where in the Koran this is written: “‘Ye of the Muslim faith must venture forth and find men, women and children who do not worship our God – Allah. These people are infidels. They are the enemy. They must be cast out. They must be killed.’”

If anyone can find such a command, or anything like it, in the Koran or other official documents of the Muslim religion, I’d like to know about it. It might help clear my thinking about what is happening today (Aug. 13, to be precise) in much of Iraq, especially on northern Mount Sinjar.

There, if news reports are accurate, thousands of civilians – some of them Christians, some not – are trying to keep from being killed by dedicated Islamic warriors, members of ISIS. The civilians’ crime: failure to renounce Christianity and/or pledge undying allegiance to ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). This is a Sunni terrorist organization, so extreme that not even Al Qaeda wants to be associated with it.

I hope the sudden and alarming military success of ISIS may be the straw that finally breaks the back of the U.S. camel. Since September 2001 fate has forced the western world to focus on Islam, Muslims, Arabs and an assortment of terrorist organizations. Thousands of brave men and women have gone to the Mideast, never to return. It’s now time to admit that our mission has NOT been accomplished. We should give the Mideast back to its original owners, and come home.

The day may come – and sooner than we think – when persons throughout the world will feel unsafe when in the presence of a Muslim. At such a meeting, the non-Muslim may feel a compulsion to ask, “‘Are you a member of ISIS? Do you believe that all non-Muslims are infidels who should be opposed, and even killed?’ ”

Such inquiries will of course be repugnant to anyone, including the questioner, who cherishes every person’s right to stay silent about personal convictions. Even so, until the time comes when the terms “‘terrorist’” and “‘Muslim’” no longer strike synonymous chords in our minds, we may all become gradually imbued with a level, however small, of prejudice against Islam and all things Islamic.

How to resist the growth of such a harmful state of mind is a challenge faced by anyone who stays in touch with current events. The savage behavior of ISIS troops in Iraq is not helping to generate fairness of mind toward the millions of America’s fair-minded Muslims, some of whom live and work here in Pinellas County.

Nor does the relative silence, nationally and locally, of Muslims who could easily speak out against ISIS and other terrorist groups who betray and defame Islam by practicing ideas that, as far as I can tell, never were written or uttered by Mohammed or any of the Muslim chieftains who succeeded him.

I don’t know how the latest crisis in Iraq will end. But I’ve got the feeling that, almost as much as the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks, it will mark a turning point in world opinion about Islam and its more aggressive adherents. After more than a decade of western countries attempting to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as help Iraq and Afghanistan create stable central governments, we have learned painful lessons that should stay with us in the years to come.

The most obvious lesson is that it’s impossible for any outside government to reform, or fully understand, Iraq or Afghanistan. Those countries resemble a combination of a Dodge City saloon and a Coney Island fun house. Operational rules, if they exist, are meant to be disregarded. Treachery and corruption are deep in the DNA of national leadership. From the arrival date of the first American soldier or diplomat in the Mideast, we have been out of our depth. If it were possible, we’d be well-advised today to evacuate most U.S. citizens and commercial interests from any Muslim Mideast nation.

A second lesson is this: The west’s fight against terrorists is not geographical. Terrorists laugh at national borders. Our troops and intelligence agents need not go to Kabul or Baghdad to root out Muslim suicide bombers. They can be recruited and trained right here – in Pittsburgh, Dearborn or Ocala. This is where the ultimate battleground will be. I’d like to believe that, in the coming war, non-violent American Muslims will gladly line up to help defeat their angry, alienated brethren.

Bob Driver is a former columnist for the Clearwater Sun. His email address is

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