Throughout the era defined by 9/11, most journalists in the West have struggled to follow two basic concepts while doing their work.
The first concept is, of course: Islam is a religion of peace.
The second would, in most cases, be stated something like this: There is no one Islam. The point is to stress the perfectly obvious, and accurate, fact that Islam is not a monolith. Islam in Saudi Arabia is quite different from the faith found in Iran. Islam in Indonesia is quite different from the faith found in Pakistan. There are competing visions of Islam in lands such as Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan.
The problem with these two concepts is that they clash. Note that Islam, singular, is a religion of peace. But which Islam is that, since there is no one Islam? In the end, many journalists appear to have decided that wise people in the White House or some other center of Western intellectual life get to decide which Islam is the true Islam. The fact that millions of Muslims, of various kinds, find that condescending (or worse) is beside the point.
At times, it appears that the true Islam is a religion and the false Islam is a political ideology. When one looks at history, of course, Muslims see a truly Islamic culture as one unified whole. There is, simply stated, no separation of mosque and state in a majority Muslim culture. The mosque is at the center of all life.
You can see all of these ideas lurking in the background when American politicos argue about what is, and what is not, “terrorism.” As the old saying goes, one man’s “freedom fighter” is another man’s “terrorist.”
As it turns out, the word “terrorism” has a very specific meaning for Western elites. Is the same definition accepted among the minority of Muslims who have adopted a radicalized version of Islam?