Here are four basic premises with which I hope you'll agree:
1. It's wrong to drive a vehicle packed with explosives into large crowds with the hopes of killing hundreds during a public gathering.
2. It's wrong to associate one person's decision to commit such an act with a much larger group, nearly all of whom would agree with Statement 1.
3. It's wrong to deliberately set fire to a house of worship for ANY reason.
4. It's wrong to associate one person or small group's decision to commit such an act with a much larger group, nearly all of whom would agree with Statement 3.
Looking across the international punditocracy's response to the recent arson at an Islamic center in Corvallis, OR, an apparent retaliatory response to one teenager's apparent attempt to commit the act described in Statement 1, it seems that many are okay with statements 1-3, but are getting tripped up on Statement 4.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims -- not just in the States, but across the world -- disagree with the rationale that some might use to justify spectacular terrorist attacks like the one plotted for this weekend's ceremony in Portland, OR. That's not an attempt at political correctness, but a verifiable fact.
It's ALSO true that the overwhelming majority of American citizens do not support or even passively condone the burning of houses of worship. One or even a handful of vigilantes who may have attacked the would-be bomber's house of worship in Corvallis, OR does not set the tone for the Corvallis community or for American society writ large.
To make sweeping, negative characterizations about the nearly 300 million or so Americans who did NOT commit that act is just as ignorant as a blanket condemnation of the billion or so Muslims who had NOTHING to do with the attempted bombing in Portland.
The real mistake would be for the moderates to be drawn into the fray by the extremists on either side who would love to see it happen.