Unburdening ourselves of Bin Laden

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Does the killing of Osama Bin Laden mean the end of the Great Islamist Jihad? Over at ReligionDispatches, Mark Juergensmeyer surmises that the jihadi revolution may indeed be over, but more thanks to the peaceful protests of Tahrir Square than to the well-executed hit on the compound in Abbottabad. It’s a happy thought, and if it turns out that Abbottabad does no more than symbolize the guttering out of militant Islamism in our time, so much the better.

Will it also put a stop to the war against Islam that infected the last election cycle? When someone declares a religious war on one side, the other side has a hard time resisting the narrative–as happened among Muslims in Palestine in the wake of the First Crusade.

After 9/11, George W. Bush did put up some serious resistance, insisting that Islam was a religion of peace, casting the U.S. military response as a war on terror, and inviting imams to the White House. But once he left office, his Republican co-religionists did not scruple to embrace anti-Muslim agitation. Yesterday, one of them, the redoubtable Michele Bachmann, expressed the hope that Bin Laden’s death would be “the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.” What I’m hoping is that it will be the beginning of the end of sharia-phobic politics.