There's an interesting guest post over at Jesus' General that argues that President Bush's various references to religion regarding the so-called "war on terror" indicates a semi-conscious but real belief in Bush's mind that America is actually waging a war on Islam (not that that's any real surprise to most Muslims, I'm sure). An excerpt:
So if terrorism isn’t a real target in this war, nor is the ideology behind those who engage in terrorism, what’s left? Apparently, Islam and Muslims are what’s left — after all, non-Muslim terrorists aren’t pursued with the same zeal and rhetoric as the administration and its Christian supporters use against Muslims. Perhaps the more extreme versions of Islam and their Muslim practitioners will always be primary focus, but Islam as a whole and Muslims in general seem to be the principle targets of the Republican Party’s self-fulfilling War on Terror.
Given how much prejudice there is in America towards Muslims, and how much support has been expressed for imposing a subordinate standard of civil rights on Muslims, this doesn’t seem like an entirely implausible option. I’m sure that there are other possibilities, but given the facts on the ground it would be difficult to successfully argue for them.
The religion of those targeted by the Bush administration is not the only issue — the religion of those pursuing their war of aggression is an important factor as well. For many Americans, religion is political and politics is religious. They recognize no valid distinction between True Patriotism and True Religion, between the best political policies for America and the only valid religion for all human beings. Because of this, religious language will necessarily creep into political discourse — preventing it would require erecting a wall between religious theology and political ideology which simply cannot exist for them.
Theological beliefs structure, inform, and determine the course of political decision-making which can be difficult for more secularly-minded people to fully comprehend (even those who are themselves religious on a personal level). Thus any discussion of the War on Terror will necessarily include references to religion and religious terminology — not simply because religion is a motivating factor, but because these people cannot think in categories and concepts that are not religious in nature. Enemies are demonic, not simply mistaken or misguided. Wars are crusades because rather than having merely political causes, they are part of God’s agenda for humanity.
When Bush speaks about the War on Terror as a “Crusade,” he may be doing so because he really is targeting Islam and because he simply can’t avoid religious terminology. It appears, then, that we are being given a glimpse into the true workings of such people’s minds and we should not dismiss such evidence as irrelevant, unimportant, or “much ado about nothing.”