To Fight Extremism Abroad Americans Must Deploy Weapons of Democracy Here at Home

What's in a name? That which we call Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh by any other name would be as evil.

Radical extremism is the enemy, and those eager to fight it abroad must name and confront it here at home.

"We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them," said President George W. Bush shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Speaking to Muslims around the world, Bush said, "we respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. ... The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them."

So why now are so many Republican leaders and presidential candidates racing to the nearest soapbox to denounce radical Islamic jihadists while countenancing radical ideological zealots in their midst?

Are these men numb to their complicity in what Islamic State hopes to achieve, or just cruel in their political expedience?

When Ted Cruz calls for a religious purity test for Christian-only refugees, he is not living by American principles; instead he is accepting the invitation by a vile theocratic enemy to engage in a crusade.

Donald Trump's call for a registry of all Muslims in America is as un-American as Ben Carson equating a refugee to a "rabid dog running around your neighborhood."

The GOP primary looks more like a contest to be the most radically extreme "conservative" than it does a contest to be the leader of the free world.

And how can any Republican brag about superior "security" credentials while turning a blind eye to the fact that terrorists in the United States legally purchase handguns and assault rifles thanks to votes cast routinely on behalf of the NRA?

Radical extremism is here. "Between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from American dealers at least 2,233 times. And in 2,043 of those cases ... they succeeded," the Washington Post reported.

If the United States is to again become the "great arsenal of democracy" instead of an arsenal of foreign and domestic terrorists, we can't throw away armaments that truly make us strong - our commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

All people in every vocation regardless of partisan stripe are called upon to serve the just cause against radical extremism - our common enemy - and that means looking carefully at the company we keep and looking in the mirror.

Each of us is armed with some powerful weapon of democracy - be it our pen, checkbook, prayer, voice, Tweet or guitar - and now is the time to use it.

Enough crazy talk from wild-eyed gun worshippers.

Enough fire and brimstone from power-hungry men who seek to be president and/or God.

Extremism wrapped in a flag is treason. Patriotism is belied by xenophobia, brilliance by bellicosity.

It was the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that shook the United States awake from its isolationist slumber and united Americans in a common purpose with the Allied forces to defeat the depraved Axis powers, and the recent attack on Paris is a similar alarm.

It's time to wake up and unite for a common purpose if we're to survive in the new world of terror. The United States - not red states or blue states - must join allies to defeat the plague of hatred, violence and intolerance that threatens our way of life.

Of course that means engaging with allies abroad, but we can't expect victory over extremism there if we tolerate it here in our political parties, campaigns, businesses or homes - and we certainly should not tolerate it on our public airwaves. The fight against Islamic State is less noble if jihadi terrorists are beat by a new strain of zealotry and fascism.

Innocent people were murdered in Paris for the purpose of terrorizing people everywhere who want to be free to speak out, criticize government, listen to music, drink wine, watch soccer and pray or not pray.

The attacks were launched in Paris, but its geography was not the target; it was the values of French people, and those values are our values.

Success against our enemy will probably take the might and brilliance of America's military, but action, strength, tolerance and courage by all those who love this country and what it stands is needed to win the war against terror.