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Do Muslims really hate terrorism?

By John Avlon, CNN Contributor
April 26, 2013 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
A woman walks by a controversial ad in a New York subway station last fall. The word
A woman walks by a controversial ad in a New York subway station last fall. The word "savage" had been defaced.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Radio podcast features CNN Opinion contributors on top three stories
  • Podcast offers views of John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah
  • Panelists exchange views on the Bush library, flight delays and attitudes toward Muslims

(CNN) -- This week on The Big Three, we tackled the George W. Bush library opening, frustration over flight furloughs (complete with congressional finger-pointing) and Dean Obeidallah's CNN.com column, "I'm a Muslim and I hate terrorism," which seems sadly necessary in the wake of Boston.

The opening of a presidential library is supposed to be a time for national unity. All the living presidents attend, standing together for a photo op and offering complimentary speeches about the newest inductee to the ex-presidents' club.

But during all the same pageantry in Dallas at the opening of Bush's library, a less civil debate on the Big Three (and across the country) was going on about 43's legacy. Margaret Hoover is a proud Bush administration alumna and attended the opening in Dallas. Dean, it is fair to say, is not a Bush fan. At all.

John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, Dean Obeidallah
John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, Dean Obeidallah

And so the debate raged, with Margaret citing his investment in foreign aid to stem the tide of AIDS in Africa and keeping the nation safe from terrorism after the attacks of 9/11. Dean acknowledged that Bush might be a nice guy to hang out with but asked whether the library would consist primarily of coloring books. As the card-carrying centrist in the group, I try to find common ground. And so it goes.

At the time of our discussions, the sequester cuts were kicking in, and airline travelers were feeling the pain, with 40% of flights delayed this week because of the furlough of air-traffic controllers. Congress has since overwhelmingly approved a measure to get the air travel system up to speed again after the delays provoked a round of the blame game on Capitol Hill, with conservatives accusing the president of "playing politics" with these particular cuts. Margaret agreed with this assessment. I ain't buying it.

The sequester was supposed to be so dumb and painful that it would compel Congress to reason together and find deficit and debt reduction to more strategic means. It didn't. And while the rhetoric of cutting government spending is popular, the reality is predictably less so. And so we're being treated to the absurdity of conservative activist groups such as Americans for Prosperity -- whose sole purpose is to argue for cuts in government spending -- complaining about the practical effects of those very cuts on which they insisted. This is the old dynamic we see too much of -- cuts for thee but not for me.

Finally, in the wake of the Boston terror attacks, America and the American Muslim community have navigated the tricky territory of confronting the ideology of radical Islam that apparently inspired the attacks without engaging in group blame.

Dean's excellent CNN.com column tries to clarify some of the bigoted myths by making the point that American Muslims might hate jihadis even more than typical Americans do because the murderers claim to represent their faith and cause a massive backlash against this growing American community. Read the column -- and then listen to our conversation, tackling subjects such as why extremists of other faiths tend not to blow things up.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

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