By Joel Brinkley

Scores of states are meeting at the United Nations for a hatefest that promises to be so odious that a dozen Western countries, including the United States, have already announced that they will not attend

It's called Durban III, the third iteration of a conference first held in South Africa that was intended to issue a clarion call against "racism, xenophobia and related intolerance." Instead, the day turned into an anti-Western, anti-Semitic jamboree so execrable that several Western ambassadors stood up and stormed out. Some participants enthusiastically likened Israel to Nazi Germany.

So now the same crew is planning another of these encounters. It promises to be little different -- except for one thing. This time a major agenda item promises to be angry screeds against Islamophobia.

Think about it. Isn't it a bit ironic, at best, that the Islamic states will bewail the inequities they perceive just a few days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a few miles from the site where the World Trade Center once stood?

Pakistan is usually the leader of these complaint campaigns -- Pakistan, where dozens of young women are killed each year, often buried alive, for saying they want to choose their own husbands; where three dozen people died a couple of weeks ago when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque during midday prayers.

Of course, Pakistan is hardly the only nation feeding Islamophobia. Not so long ago, the United Arab Emirates Supreme Court ruled that a man is free to beat up his wife and children -- as long as he does not leave marks. Saudi Arabia asked a hospital to surgically mutilate a young man's spinal cord as penalty for injuring another man in a fight. During the famine in Somalia this summer, Islamic militants forbade aid workers to bring food for thousands of Somalis who were literally starving to death.

Is it any wonder that many people look askance at Islam -- and paint their disdain with a broad brush?

Western nations, of course, suffer abhorrent violent acts of their own. In Oregon this summer, a father was accused of stabbing his wife and four young children to death before setting fire to their home. That was certainly not an isolated crime. But there's an important difference. Those heinous acts in the Islamic world are almost always carried out in the name of the religion. That's why so many people, right now, are calling for an Islamic Reformation.

Well, I would argue that an Islamic Reformation is already under way, even though no one is calling it that. Those hundreds of thousands of young demonstrators -- in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria and elsewhere -- have been demanding dignity, prosperity, freedom and democracy, more or less in that order. All of those social characteristics are the mortal enemies of Islamic militancy. Did you hear even one of those demonstrators, in any of those states, calling for Islamic jihad?

A sterling illustration of this principle is the nearly 3 million Muslims who live in the United States, prosperous and free. A new Pew Research Center study found that "Muslim Americans are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives" and "rate their communities very positively as places to live." What's more, "just 1 percent say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence" are justifiable.

Listen to some of them talk, in books, interviews and op-ed columns, in recent months.

Moderate Islam "must not be passive," Tawfik Hamid, a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, wrote last year. "Ideally this would mean Muslims demonstrating en masse all over the world" -- exactly what is happening now.

"What takes place among Muslims affects countless lives outside the fold," wrote Irshad Manji in her new book, "Allah, Liberty and Love." "We have to repel the violent ideology of some of our fellow Muslims."

Those attitudes are not unique to American Muslims. Another Pew study found that the vast majority of Arabs polled opposed Islamic extremism. Among Palestinians, for example, 78 percent said they were concerned about it.

American Muslims are not taking part in Durban III. For Pakistanis and others there to bleat about Islamophobia, the rest of us should simply shake our heads and realize that it's a lame attempt to render themselves immune from criticism of their extremists' venomous behavior.

The Protestant reformation 500 years ago brought on more than a century of repression and war before settling out. Let's hope this one moves faster.

 

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