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Praising Islam as peaceful may be a lie -- but it can help get us a peaceful Islam

Reader comment on item: Bush Returns to the "Religion of Peace" Formulation

Submitted by Michael Bernet (United States), Dec 31, 2007 at 12:25

I agree with you on your evaluation of Bush but, as a psychologist with 30 years experience, I take issue with it. Telling Moslems that their religion is evil deprives you of all possibility of shaping their future behavior. Winking slyly while you say "religion of peace," lets them know it is worth their while to work into making it a religion of peace and that if they don't they, their religion and their prophet will inevitably be dishonored.

We do that with even the severely troubled psychotics -- and it works. A good parent uses it with an infant: you praise them for any advance in the behavior we desire from them -- even before they have contemplated that behavior or attitude -- and they'll tend to continue with the positive response to avoid withdrawal of your approval. Remember the 30's song: "Accen - tuate the Positive, Eli - minate the Negative"? It also puts on each Moslem the responsibility to preserve the "peaceful" epithets lest the whole tribe be dishonored.

I've managed to change the behaviors of otherwise unmanagable patients in a mental hospital setting. The problem is that people who think I'm coddling the patient could undo my work faster than I could effect repairs.

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