Muslims? Let’s Go to War!

IntoleranceMarc Ambinder wrote a very reasonable article over at The Week, The Insanity of Blaming Islam. In it, he argues that we shouldn’t blame Islam if a Muslim commits a crime any more than we should blame Christanity when a Christian commits a crime. This is an excellent point. When Scott Roeder killed George Tiller for explicitly Christian reasons, no one talked about “radical Christianity” being responsible. So I thought there wouldn’t be much push back on the article. Man, was I wrong!

I started reading the comments and one after another they were vile. Growup commented, “The writer is insane. So blinded by his own desperate ideology that he’s unwilling to acknowledge any form of truth.” Vinney commented, “Dumbest article I’ve ever read. I get tired of leftists trying to humanize these bastards.” And Sybilll commented, “Know the difference between a radical Muslim and a moderate Muslim? The radical Muslims want to kill us. The moderate Muslims want the radical Muslims to kill us. You really are stuck on stupid, Marc.” Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

The “truth” that Growup thinks Ambinder won’t acknowledge is apparently that Islam is an evil religion. The bastards that Vinney talks about are not the people who did the bombing; they are Muslims generally. And Sybilll’s comment is so over-the-top offensive, I don’t think it needs comment. The point is that Marc Ambinder makes the truly modest suggestion that we don’t blame Islam for the vile acts of two young men and the blogosphere shouts back: no way; Muslims did this!

But it would be one thing if it were just the internet. I overheard Bill O’Reilly on The Factor today. He said, “They want to kill Americans.” That’s just great. Let’s make it all about America. We don’t have enough jingoism in this country, so let’s get everyone worked up for war. Right now, people in Boston are on the TV chanting “U-S-A!” Apparently, the Boston Marathon bombing wasn’t a terrible crime that killed and wounded many innocent people; it was an attack on America itself. Where is Patton?! Let’s go to war! I’ll get the guns, you pick the country.

This is madness. And now I’m more concerned than ever that we will get bad new laws to protect us from terrorism and nothing at all to protect us from guns, workplace accidents, and environmental catastrophe.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Muslims? Let’s Go to War!

  1. It was a perfectly reasonable article. The tone was a little bit angry, but much less angrier than mine would be writing on the same subject. The last line was spot-on: "And the easiest way to radicalize un-radicalized people is to treat them like enemies."

    Just from a purely self-centered viewpoint, you’d think people would get this. Especially right-wingers, whose stock in trade is proclaiming that any attempt to prevent them from forcing their beliefs down everyone’s gullets constitutes some sort of "persecution."

    But no, reciprocity is not something these people can grasp. (I’ve yet to meet a right-winger who won’t gladly take government handouts when offered, even if they are fraudulently qualified; I’ve even heard right-wingers brag about how clever they are for gaming the system.)

    So on they go, demonizing Muslims at every turn, incapable of realizing that any variation exists between the beliefs of different adherents. (Good grief, like there aren’t thousands upon thousands of differing Christian sects.)

    The patience of American Muslims has been noteworthy. If they had the mindset of American right-wing-Christian fanatics, then the country would be burnt to ashes by now. And yet I do worry about the future. You can only push people so far. I see three possible outcomes if this Muslim-bashing continues (and there’s no reason to think it won’t):

    One would be continuing to ignore it and trying to fit in, while preserving a cultural identity and remembering how they were insulted. That’s the most likely outcome, as it’s historically what our immigrant groups have done. Two would be standing up and democratically demanding an end to bigotry. That would please me to no end, but it hasn’t really shown signs of happening yet among Muslims (Hispanics are making real progress along these lines.)

    Three would be most American Muslims choosing one of the first two options but a tiny number of disturbed, alienated individuals becoming violent. It’s sort of what’s happening in Europe and possibly the motivation of the suspects in Boston. I don’t know how likely this is, but it bothers me. It would really empower right-wing kooks here, as it has in Europe, and make life a lot tougher for what is generally a very welcome immigrant community.

    Seriously, what’s not for American Christians to like? Muslims don’t drink, they don’t do drugs, they don’t have out-of-wedlock sex. (Some do, naturally, but those "vices" are much less prevalent than they were in, say, irish or German immigrants.)

    Plus, they come from countries with extremely male-dominated social systems, which our "Promise Keeper" sorts should admire. It’s the one problem I do have with American Muslims, something I find American Muslim women are interested in challenging. I fear that if the group keeps being insulted they will cling to old ways and reform efforts on this front will be set back badly. (Again, you see this in Europe, where some Muslim women — not the majority by any means — have taken to covering their faces as a mark of cultural pride.)

    When in doubt, American right-wingers, always take the steps that will make everything worse. Yeagggh! One of these days I’ll just have to stop paying attention to politics entirely before I rupture all my facial blood vessels simultaneously.

    On a related note, this week PBS aired a Ken Burns documentary on five Black teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park, in 1989. Burns’s endless series have bored me in the past, but I found his three-part piece on Prohibition to be fun, while this — a two-hour essay on a shameful piece of our recent history — was staggeringly good, albeit very, very sad.

    There’s a moment with painful current relevance. Black journalists who lived in New York at the time described their first reaction when the media went ape over a rich young white woman being raped while jogging; "please, God, don’t let it be one of us."

    I’m sure that’s exactly what American Muslims have been feeling all week.

  2. @JMF – One of the reasons for the strong reactions from these people is that terrorism is [i]not[/i] much of a problem. That allows them to act like they are tough guys without really having to worry.

    I’m divided about the Central Park Five story. I agree that it is horrible, but for most of Ken Burns’ audience, it is a horrible example of injustice instead of what you and I both know it is: business as usual.

    But when the Boston Marathon bombing happened, I had the same reaction: let it not be a Muslim. Of course the whole thing is ridiculous. I have extremely strong political (And religious!) opinions but I don’t go around killing people. My hunch is the older brother had something wrong with him. Boxers often have anger problems. And I’d like to think that the younger brother just got caught up in it. Time will tell.

  3. You get from these things what your experience and predilections give you. I’m sure you’re right about how the average Ken Burns audience saw the CP5 documentary (if they even watched it), but my SO didn’t. The reaction there was "this movie didn’t give me any hope for our society, but it gave me hope for individuals." Because some of the five teenagers, now adults, told their story to the camera with guts and an amazing composure about the whole thing; certainly more than I would have. (That’s really the reason to watch the documentary, to see them talk about their ordeal.) The SO was stunned, as I was, that these people weren’t more damaged and broken by their experience. Some individuals can be better than the rest of us, thank goodness.

    I’ve been making a point to avoid all coverage of the bombing story, so I didn’t know one was a boxer. Hmm. Modern American urban life and social isolation can lead to violence; so can boxing. If only an Italian-American filmmaker could make a movie or two about these themes, preferably with Robert De Niro.

  4. @JMF – I’ve seen some scenes and it looks powerful. I don’t mean to take away from the experience. I love stories like this as much as anyone. I’ve just noticed that most people react that this is sad but it is unusual. And of course it isn’t.

  5. Hey Frank,

    I have another hateful comment for you. You see I saw 9/11. I hope all of us citizens remember this. When we had 3000 innocent people slaughtered I SAW with my own eyes all of the Palestinians, even the old ladies, cheering and celebrating 9/11. I saw them jumping up and down with joy! We must never forget.

  6. One of the reasons for the strong reactions from these people is that terrorism is not much of a problem. That allows them to act like they are tough guys without really having to worry.

    Wow Frank. You must feel really stupid after saying this.

  7. @dogbyte – Selective coverage; selective memory. Worldwide there was a huge outpouring of sympathy for the USA after 9/11. You might want to consider that.

    Regardless, what mustn’t we forget? That some people somewhere rejoiced in our tragedy? People in Palestine (I think you have that wrong, BTW) were happy so we attacked Iraq? So we should attack Iran now?

    A big problem in this country is that we don’t discriminate between "them." It’s like during WWII where people attacked the Chinese because they thought they were Japanese. It was racism them and it is racism now.

  8. @dogbyte – I’ve deleted your offensive and racist comment. As for the most recent comment, 3400 dead from terrorism over the last 30 years in a country of 300 million is, yes, not that big a problem.

  9. Hey Frank, Here is a link to the video.

    How does if feel to be a propaganda tool for evil?

    Do you just make stuff up? I am not racist at all. I support all legal immigration. I want more legal immigration. You must come to grips with the fact that these people, radical muslims want to kills us and the moderate ones are not doing anything to ostracize the radicals. Kind of like when Obama lies and you in the press cover for them.

  10. @dogbyte – I didn’t call you racist. I called your comment racist. Which it was.

    Your video doesn’t prove anything. It isn’t news to show people doing nothing. As I said, "Selective coverage."

    Finally, this is not a productive discussion. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. Saul Alinsky did not propose such tactics and I am not using such tactics. I suspect you haven’t read him–only [i]about[/i] him from the conservatives who now complain about that poor dead man.

    I won’t allow anymore trolling from you. If you can’t have a reasonable conversation you aren’t wanted around here.

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