MAY 28, 2008 When it comes to Islam, good fences make good neighbors Do Terrorists Hate Freedom? BY JACK HUNTER Whenever I write about U.S. foreign intervention as the root cause of the terrorist threat, I expect, and receive, a visceral reaction from those who instead believe the George W. Bush party line — that terrorists are only motivated by a hatred of America's "freedom." On the Right, terrorism is considered a mass insurgency, unique to Islam, and the ultimate goal is to destroy democracy. On the Left, terrorism is seen as a reaction to American imperialism; they believe Islam is no different from any other religion. Both are right and wrong. Liberals who pretend that Islam is entirely harmless do so at their own peril. One need not cite barbaric quotes and commands from the Koran to recognize that while every Muslim is not a terrorist, a significant portion of them are, and that portion is a force to be reckoned with. Decades of mass immigration into Europe have proven multicultural assumptions about Muslim assimilation dead wrong, and in places like the U.K., France, and elsewhere, majorities now believe that Islam is simply incompatible with Western society. To say this is offensive to some, particularly when we all have Islamic friends or neighbors who are decent, law-abiding citizens. But the same could be said of relatives of mine, who as Southern Baptists are the salt of the earth. Yet, does anyone believe that if two million Southern Baptists (the estimated number of Muslims in the U.K.) planted roots in the heart of liberal San Francisco, that their presence would not create serious religious, political, and cultural tension? Conservatives who assume that the Islamic problems in Europe and the Middle East will also unavoidably continue to be a problem for the United States are wrong in the worst way imaginable. The overwhelming reason for the terrorist threat against the U.S. is the U.S.'s continued military presence in the Islamic world. Radical Islam has declared jihad against America for the same reason they have done so against their European neighbors — because we are there. Whereas European nations foolishly allowed Islam to enter their own backyards, the U.S. has not only been having a backyard barbecue in the Middle East for decades, but in 2003, President Bush decided to bring out the fireworks. The invasion of Iraq alone exploded the ranks of Al-Qaida by the millions and was the best possible gift the U.S. could have given radical Islam. Imagine if the Iranian Revolutionary Guard invaded Folly Beach, established military bases along the coast, and caused the deaths of thousands of South Carolinians as a result of sanctions which blocked food and medical supplies from entering the state in an effort to punish Gov. Mark Sanford. Every redneck and homeboy from Goose Creek to Gaffney would be picking up shotguns, creating an "insurgency" that would trouble the occupiers to no end. And no doubt, back home Iranian leaders would explain that the resistance in S.C. was the work of "terrorists" who simply "hated Islam." The childlike view that terrorists hate our freedom is constantly reinforced by not only our president, most of his party, and a significant portion of Democrats, but a mainstream media more comfortable with repeating accepted falsehoods than doing their job of investigating the facts. The earth has never been flat, but someone had to investigate the matter and offer an alternate vision to challenge the conventional wisdom. Still, the earth looks flat, right? Islam looks dangerous, right? The rhetorical navel-gazing that passes for U.S. foreign policy has confused and corrupted not only debate on the subject, but the Right, where military action is now almost always considered an inherent good. It is troubling that so many self-described conservatives now seem to trust their government without question, so long as it involves bombs and bombast. The Left's assumption that American imperialism causes Islamic terror is essentially correct. John McCain's statement that he doesn't mind keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years won't trouble generations of potential terrorists half as much as the fact that he might actually do it. The Right's assumption that Islam poses a danger is also essentially correct. But this danger is only born of geography, not an inevitable clash of philosophies. Like a flame to gasoline, the Middle East and the West only become combustible when they meet. It's time we stopped meeting. Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.