Finding home-grown, American fanatics

Robert Hunt, an SMU theology professor and expert on Islam, talks about American organizations promoting anti-Islamic attitudes.

By Steve Blow

Do radicals know when they have gone around the bend?

Or, as I imagine, does it happen so slowly that they never really know when they have arrived in fruitcake land?

We worry endlessly about the radicalization process in the Muslim world. But I also worry about it happening right here at home.

I’m talking about people so hepped up on anti-Islam fervor that they begin to sound a lot like the rabid anti-American radicals who take to the streets in Kabul or Islamabad.

I’m sure they would not appreciate the comparison. But trust me, they’re out there. . .

Friends, we’ve got a problem when some Americans begin to regard all of Islam as the enemy.

But that sure seems to be the attitude of Grand Prairie resident and Republican activist Dorrie O’Brien. She recently sent out a mass email blasting a Keller church for hosting a Christian and Muslim social event. . .

O’Brien is active in Act! For America. That’s one of several groups making a nice business of selling fear of Islam.

 “There is some pretty serious money in it,” said Dr. Robert Hunt, a Southern Methodist University theology professor who is an actual expert on Islam. “It’s an industry that is worth a few million dollars a year.”

He said the groups present a grossly distorted picture of Islam by cherry-picking only the most hostile-sounding verses from the Quran and by overlooking the religion’s vast complexity and variety.

Hunt has prepared opening remarks for a panel discussion Thursday night at SMU on this very issue of fanaticism. Christian and Muslim leaders will discuss “Civic Peacebuilding Against Fanaticism.”

Hunt said he doesn’t worry too much about the anti-Islam radicals because healthy civic institutions here do a good job of debunking and marginalizing fanatics of all kinds. “I think we will be self-correcting,” he said.

Read the full column.

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