“If there are so many peaceful Muslim people, then why don’t they speak out?!”
You hear this a lot in today’s dialogue about radical Islam, and the sentiment popped up in a big way after the Paris attacks last week, as if ordinary Muslims are responsible for the violent fringe lunatics that bastardize their religion. Which is bullshit.
They spoke out anyway. Months ago.
The #NotInMyName trend took off almost immediately again over the weekend in response to the horrific killings on Friday. Now, I’m not a big fan of hashtags, but at least they were publicly condemning and separating themselves from extremism, at the same time showing support for Paris. What else are they going to do, write their politicians to tell them the universally recognized fact that ISIS is evil? I’d say the massive outcry on public social media was effective. Others?
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, it would seem.
While reading about the attacks, I frequently ran into that jewel of insightful internet comments “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim”, which conveniently translates to “I’m not an Islamaphobe, but I’m totally an Islamaphobe.” I saw it everywhere, and you probably did too if you’re as stupid as I am to have ventured to the comment sections of news stories this past weekend.
Now, you could explain to these people that “every terrorist is Muslim” is only true if you define “terrorist” using the Fox News Official Dictionary of Stupid definition of “Muslim Terrorist” and not “any person of any background who shoots a lot of innocent people for any twisted ideological reason.” You could mention the fact that the number of Americans killed by American gun violence is far higher than the number of Americans killed by Muslim extremists since 2001, including 9/11.
You could name the many organized terror groups in countries like Spain (ETA), Japan (Aum Shinrikyo), United States (KKK), etc. that have jack-shit to do with Islam. You could also explain that quite a few Arab terror cells are politically motivated and have nothing to do with religious extremism or that the majority of terrorist attack victims in the Middle East are, you know, peaceful Muslims. Isn’t it somewhat outlandish and insulting to lump innocent victims into the same category as the extremists that killed them, as if they shared the same values and morals?
But explaining these things takes time and effort, neither of which am I willing to spend on talking to the willfully ignorant. So, I like to adopt their logic and follow it to its inevitable conclusion. I highly suggest you use this strategy. Here’s how it goes:
“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”
“What a nuanced, interesting outlook! I like it. Did you also know that the vast majority of all mass shootings, murders, rapes, bombings, and war crimes are committed by men? It’s true, look it up! Maybe it’s less an issue of belief and maybe more an issue of gender, man. Women should probably start deporting us before we fuck anything else up. I mean, not all men are terrorists, but all terrorists are men. Hillary 2016, right?”
If they want to paint in broad strokes, bring a bigger fucking brush.
The disturbing truth about Islam is that there are countless good people who adhere to the peaceful teachings of the Kuran and a few bad eggs who ruin it for everyone else. But we are so caught up in the “Us vs Them” narrative that we want to demonize it. Our reaction is an unfortunate remnant of a primitive tribe mentality. We saw it during the Irish immigrations at the beginning of the century, the Japanese internment camps of WWII, the Red Scare, and the Cold War as a whole. Muslims are just the newest “other” for us to blame and be afraid of. It takes far more discernment to say “certain people are terrible and we shouldn’t generalize” than “THEY ARE ALL TRYING TO DESTROY US! LET US BUILD A WALL BECAUSE THAT IS A FEASIBLE AND RATIONAL RESPONSE!” Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t exactly trust a response based entirely on fear.
I stand with Paris and the families of the victims. I share the anger, grief, and disbelief the majority of the world feels. May the sub-human cowardly shits responsible be mercilessly hunted down and brought to justice. But I also stand with the 1.5 billion upstanding, decent Muslim men and women around the world who, after every attack like this, face the backlash of unjustified blame, hatred, and xenophobia.
Wait. Responding with unjustified blame, hatred of innocent people, and being xenophobic? Does this sound like the reaction of a dangerous extremist to anyone else?
Vive la France.
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