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Why liberals keep giving radical Islam a pass — and what it will take to change their minds

Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. (Image source: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

One might conclude that given example after example of radical Islam's heinous acts around the globe even after 9/11, liberals would cease giving them a pass or the benefit of the doubt.

But even after Fort Hood, Boston, Paris, Garland, Chattanooga, San Bernardino and Orlando — to name a few attacks — some liberals clearly don't feel that way. Indeed, a new CBS poll indicates that 66 percent of Democrats believe Islam is no different from other religions when it comes to encouraging violence.

People hold candles during a vigil for shooting victims Dec. 3, 2015, at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino, California. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Who can forget left-wing actor Ben Affleck's infamous appearance on "Real Time" when he became incensed at host Bill Maher and atheist icon Sam Harris for daring to say Islam's general reluctance to call out and combat radical elements is a problem? Affleck referred to that conclusion as “racist” and “gross.”

Maher — a rare liberal who's outspoken in his criticism of Islam — countered that it's "the only religion that acts like the mafia; that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, paint the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”

Loud and opinionated comedienne Rosie O'Donnell — who praised Affleck's words after the "Real Time" dust-up — drew honest-to-goodness applause on "The View" a few years before saying that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam." To her credit, left-wing icon Joy Behar attempted to temper O'Donnell, saying, "Christians are not threatening to kill us."

And of course, former President Barack Obama refused to place the words "radical" and "Islam" together, which led to many to conclude he was giving special favor to Islam while never hesitating to openly criticize Christianity.

After last June's terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Obama said using the term "radical Islam" won't change a thing.

“What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?” Obama asked. “The answer is, none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.”

Republican President Donald Trump disagrees — and made it a point to emphatically call out "radical Islamic terrorism" during his inauguration address last month and promise to end it.

So what will it take to change liberals' minds on the subject? Another 9/11-scale attack — or worse? And what other factors might be playing a role in the left's seemingly ingrained desire to not look radical Islam square in the eye and take it on?

Robert Spencer — director of Jihad Watch and a noted authority on the pervasiveness of radical Islam — told TheBlaze he's seeing the left not only continuing to give Islamic extremism a pass but also noticing liberals beginning to normalize elements of it.

And he needed to point no further than the much-heralded Women's March, which hit the streets the day after Trump's inauguration — and featured speaker and march organizer Linda Sarsour, a "Palestinian Muslim American" who's come under scrutiny for threatening statements she made against Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali several years back.

"Ms. Sarsour is not interested in universal human rights,” Ali told the New York Times, adding, “she’s a defender of Sharia law. There’s no principle that demeans, degrades and dehumanizes women more than the principal of Sharia law.”

Despite this, Spencer said liberals continue their "glamorization and glorification" of Sarsour — as well as their "vilification of anyone who points out her ties to Hamas, vicious hatred of Israel ... even in publications such as Elle."

Other normalization examples include the "the proliferation of World Hijab Day events, which ignore the many women who have been brutalized or even killed for not wearing the hijab, and the spread among Western leftist feminists of the idea that the hijab and Sharia restrictions on women’s rights are a beautiful sign of cultural diversity, to be celebrated rather than condemned."

Spencer agreed, too, that left-wing bias against Christianity and Judaism finds a kindred spirit with radical Islam, as both share "hatred for Judeo-Christian Western civilization." Furthermore, radical Islam's goal of bringing down "the West” taps into a kind of liberal self-loathing that wouldn't mind seeing America brought low, given it's viewed by some liberals "the source of all the evil in the world."

Another tool the left tends to use — and Affleck's "Real Time" appearance spells it out — is the characterization of Islam criticism as "racism," despite the fact that Islam isn't a race.

"Racism is our national trauma," Spencer added to TheBlaze. "The endeavor to portray Muslims as 'brown' and foes of jihad terror as disliking them solely for racial reasons is a cynical and dishonest enterprise that has the effect of intimidating people into being afraid to oppose jihad terror. Of course, many leftists are so poorly educated and unable to think critically that they no doubt believe all that."

So, what — if anything — might possibly turn the tide on the left?

Spencer noted that it very likely would take something at least as terrible as another 9/11-scale attack, as "with with every jihad attack some people wake up."

But the "leftist intelligentsia knows that," he said, which poses an issue, since "after every attack, there is a strenuous effort to exonerate Islam from any responsibility for it."

Here's Spencer discussing Islam and the left's assault on free speech in 2009 — and you might say his words have proven rather prophetic in America over the last several years:

One last thing…
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