Radical Islam, schmadical Islam.
"[N]ine years after 9/11, the fight over the mosque near Ground Zero shows how obsessed we remain with an enemy that may no longer exist."
That's the argument from Time magazine deputy managing editor Romesh Ratnesar in his August 17 online Viewpoint essay entitled, "The 'Ground Zero Mosque' Debate: Exaggerating the Jihadist Threat."
"The mosque's critics and champions both say their goal is to counter radical Islam," Ratnesar noted, arguing that both sides are all wet:
The prevalence of such rhetoric on both sides of the mosque debate makes it seem as if the struggle against global jihadism hangs in the balance. The truth is that Osama bin Laden and his ilk face much bigger problems. The story of the past decade in the Muslim world is that of the widespread rejection — or "refudiation," to borrow a phrase — of terrorism. A study by the Pew Research Center earlier this year found that support in Muslim countries for suicide bombings has fallen precipitously from post-9/11 levels. One-third of Pakistanis believed terrorism was justified in 2002; now just 8% do. For all our anxiety about the rise of religious extremism, no government in the Arab world has been toppled by forces sympathetic to al-Qaeda since 2001. And though some militant Muslims surely wish us harm, their ability to actually inflict it has eroded; it has been more than five years since the last successful al-Qaeda attack in the West.
The eclipse of al-Qaeda has come about largely through revulsion at the jihadists' indiscriminate slaughter of fellow Muslims, from Indonesia to Iraq. And yet we have failed to notice.
Of course, while these development are welcome news, it doesn't mean the threat of radical Islam is completely eradicated. Indeed, like cancers that go into remission, radicalism can spring back with a vengeance after suffering losses in a given period of time.
But Ratnesar seems to think the worst is over and that the way to beat radical Islam is to pretty much "move on" from the issue:
However the [Ground Zero mosque] dispute is ultimately resolved, its impact on the "threat" posed by radical Islam will be negligible. That's because the threat is receding on its own. Allowing a place of worship to be built in lower Manhattan will constitute neither an American triumph nor a defeat. It will simply tell the world that this nation, wisely, has decided to move on.
Photo of Ratnesar from his eponymous website.