I’ve seen a handful of comments on social media condemning all Muslims for the atrocities committed in the name of Islam, but these are very rare. I suppose I understand the anger, after all, it seems like for ever ten mass murders, nine are carried out by some guy named Mohammed, but a moment’s reflection tells us that the mass murderers represent a tiny proportion of Islam. Not everybody is in the habit of taking a two seconds to think, but objectively speaking anyone over the age of thirteen should be able to figure it out on their own.
Much more common is the opposite: the need to constantly, almost obsessively, point out the obvious fact that not all Muslims are mass murderers. I suppose the motives are decent enough: we are disgusted by the “nuke the Muslims” morons, and we fear that given the tribal tendencies of human nature some people might go seeking to wreak revenge on innocent Muslims. But pointing out that not all Muslims are mass murderers is about as useful to public discourse as holding a candlelight vigil for the dead Parisians.
Another theme of social commentary is to blame Bush (pronounced Booooosh! with flecks of spittle added in.) That is equally useless. It feels good to judge the past with the perspectives of today, and it also feels good to deflect blame from current world leaders. But you cannot blame Bush for the rise of ISIS and not also blame Obama for creating a power vacuum by withdrawing from Iraq, nor absolve current EU leadership for allowing waves of unscreened refugees to walk into Europe knowing full well what would happen if out of the thousands of refugees there were a handful of terrorists.
The discussion should not consist of revenge fantasies or moral posturing, but asking what nations should be doing to keep this from happening again.
The problem is, keeping this from happening again implies hard work. It means controlling borders, screening immigrants, and turning many of them away no matter how bad you might feel about it. It means being willing to fight a long, ugly war, but one limited by prudence. It means the kind of diplomatic engagement for which few people have patience.