Avoid jihadists’ sinister trap

From an editorial Saturday in the Washington Post:

The disturbing news that Tashfeen Malik, the woman who helped carry out the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., had pledged fealty to the Islamic State intensifies suspicions that the carnage was inspired, perhaps even directed, by that terrorist group. That is ample cause, if any is needed, for the United States to redouble its resolve to destroy the Islamic State and other barbarously radical Islamist groups.

It would be self-defeating if, in the course of carrying out that fight, Americans lost sight of one of this country’s most valuable tools in the war against terrorism: its embrace of values based on diversity and tolerance, including for millions of loyal and fully assimilated American Muslims.

Nothing would redound more to the Islamic State’s benefit, nor better reward the San Bernardino killers, than if their rampage resulted in a fissure between Muslim Americans and their neighbors. In that attack, as in the Nov. 13 blood bath in Paris, the civilized world cannot allow tolerance itself to be added to the toll of victims.

By threatening to forcibly register American Muslims, as Donald Trump did, or likening Syrian refugees to “rabid” dogs, as Ben Carson did, blustering politicians play perfectly into the hands of jihadists.

The risk is not only rising tensions among neighbors in communities that house some of America’s several million Muslims. It is also that by alienating members of the nation’s third-largest religious group (after Christians and Jews), the United States will squander its advantage over western European countries that have so glaringly failed to accept and integrate their own Muslim populations, even a generation or more after their arrival.