IF you listen to those in this country who promote the most cowardly brand of moral relativism imaginable, then Islam and its extremists are no worse than those of other religions.
That may have been true 500 years ago, but in the 21st century only one religion is at the centre of terror attacks around the world.
However, it’s not only global terrorism that demands Islamic introspection, but also the retrograde beliefs that subjugate women, condemn homosexuals to torture and death and validate attitudes that are abhorrent to the civilised world.
But no matter how many innocent people continue to be suppressed, brutalised or slaughtered in the name of Allah, there are those who refuse to accept the religion is in desperate need of reform.
In Australia the level of public debate has degenerated to such an extent that reasonable commentary pointing out indisputable facts about Islam’s many ills, and increasing victim count, is treated not just with just derision but a vicious, hyperbolic backlash.
Even a piece that repeatedly makes all the “not every Muslim” caveats is labelled racist, Islamophobic, inflammatory and destructive.
Never mind if it’s completely accurate and puts on the agenda important issues worthy of further discussion.
Alas, the left wing echo chamber, home to most of the members of the Australian media, is not a place tolerant of open discourse and critical thought.
Groupthink doesn’t engender intelligent debate and those who don’t fully subscribe to the increasingly warped world view of the ABC/Fairfax/SBS/Guardian/Crikey/New Matilda/Mamamia et al will be attacked, often with the most outrageous straw man arguments imaginable.
Of course News Corp Australia is not immune to such attitudes, but thankfully, diversity of thought is celebrated here and you’re as likely to find commentary from left wing columnists on these pages as you are conservative voices.
Sadly, that diversity is a rarity in an Australian media where a narrow band of ideologues dominate debate on key issues.
Those who breach the totalitarian PC code of the regressive left are met with a feral response.
Last week it was former prime minister Tony Abbott who bore the full force of a fierce backlash that was predictably high on hysteria and low on facts.
Abbott is an obvious target and no matter what he says he will be abused mercilessly; he could opine that the sky is blue and have the easily outraged, err, outraged.
The truth is Abbott’s column, published in the Herald Sun, echoed the sentiments of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as well as other esteemed Muslim leaders around the world who acknowledge their faith is being used to perpetuate evil.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum early this year, President Sisi implored Muslims to reform their religion.
“The terrible terrorist attacks and this terrible image of Muslims led us to think we must stop and think and change the religious discourse and remove from it things that have led to violence and extremism,” he said.
“We Muslims need to modify this religious discourse … we need a new discourse that will be adapted to a new world.”
He was even stronger, calling for an Islamic Revolution, when he addressed Muslim clerics at a Cairo University this year.
“We are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah,” he said.
“The entire world is waiting for your word because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost … by our own hands.”
Yet locally the culture of denial sees politicians and large swathes of the media adopt the vacuous argument that terrorism has no religion and terror attacks carried out around the world, whether by groups or “lone wolves”, are motiveless crimes.
Any discussion of Islamic extremism is frowned upon and discouraged. It’s the bigotry of low expectations that sees Catholicism’s faults rightfully condemned, but any similar criticism of Islam labelled hate-speech that plays into the hands of extremists inspiring further acts of violence.
If that is true then it only shows that far from being a religion of peace, Islam is in fact so intolerant that any disparagement, no matter how deserving, can lead to threats of violence.
The commentariat who dominate the media narrative may want to silence debate, but on this issue they are as hopelessly out of touch with the Australian public as they are on border protection.
It’s worth noting the biggest victims of Islam’s lack of progress are Muslims who suffer terribly, particularly in the Middle East.
Terror groups like Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda are not the only Muslims to embrace the backward barbarity of sharia law.
Every country and province that enforces sharia law condemns women, homosexuals, non-believers and a variety of other minorities to life as a second-class citizen.
Terrorist attacks in Europe, North America and Asia are becoming an all too common occurrence, but it is the people in the Middle East and expanses of Africa that experience the greatest casualties from religiously-inspired violence.
These are facts one hopes would trouble the Islamic appeasers and apologists in this country.
Australian politicians would do well to ignore the media elite and follow British PM David Cameron’s lead in unequivocally condemning Islamic fanaticism.
RITA PANAHI IS A HERALD SUN COLUMNIST