NOT Every Muslim Is a Terrorist

anti_muslim

by James A. Bacon

Conservatives routinely call upon Muslim leaders in the United States to denounce Islamic-inspired terrorism — and overwhelming numbers of them have done so. Now it is time for conservatives to denounce bigotry against peaceful, law-abiding Muslims. I am ashamed that many have failed the test.

Yesterday I posted a piece belittling the whining of Muslim students at Virginia Commonwealth University about perceived slights and insults in classrooms. The answer to such indignities is not to enforce a regime of politically correct thought on campus. At the same time, all people of good will — and that includes me — should condemn bigotry when we see it.

I was appalled to view a living, breathing example of anti-Muslim xenophobia in the video clip, shown above, taken during a meeting yesterday to inform the community about plans by the Islamic Center of Fredericksburg to build an 8,000-square-foot mosque in Spotsylvania County. Many of the attendees at the meeting were concerned about the impact of the traffic generated by the facility on adjacent neighborhoods, not the religious identity of the petitioners for a special-use permit. But some were opposed to a mosque being built under any circumstances.

The bearded man in the video was especially inflammatory. “Nobody wants your evil cult in this county,” he said. I will do everything within my power to make sure that doesn’t happen. … because you are terrorists. Every one of you are terrorists, I don’t care what you say. … You can say what you want, but every Muslim is a terrorist. Period. Shut your mouth. I don’t want to hear your mouth.”

While some people in the audience moaned at his remarks, he received scattered applause from others.

Perhaps the bearded man was an outlier, but similar sentiments run deep in the American electorate. We have been hearing some extraordinary comments from Republican politicians in recent days. In calling for expanded surveillance of American Muslims, presidential candidate Donald Trump declined to rule out tracking them in a national database or identifying their religion on ID cards. Another candidate, Ben Carson, has said that a Muslim candidate would have to reject the tenets of Islam in order to run for president.

News flash, people, the United States is not a “Christian nation.” The very idea is a profound contradiction of the principles of individual liberty that this country was founded upon and that people like Trump and Carson profess to hold dear. Yes, the population of the United States is predominantly Christian, and the founding fathers were overwhelmingly Christian (with the occasional theist, agnostic or atheist thrown in), but a core founding principle of this country is freedom of religion, and that freedom was never meant for Christians only. Even in colonial times, there was a population of Jews. Today the population of the United States includes not only Christians of infinite variety, and Jews, but Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, spiritualists, animists, Unitarians, Scientologists, Zoroastrians, a growing number of atheists and unaffiliated agnostics, and, yes, Muslims. They all enjoy the same rights under the law as Christians.

Given the reality of the war on terror and the prospect that ISIS is infiltrating terrorists into western nations with the flood of mostly Muslim refugees, we may need to take special precautions before letting these refugees into the country. That is a debate that reasonable people can have. But the Muslims in the Fredericksburg area are already here — many, no doubt, are American citizens. We should encourage them to integrate into American society and assimilate mainstream American values. Treating them as pariahs will do the opposite and feed the radical jihadist narrative.

Oh, and one more point. If Americans are concerned about random acts of terror being committed on U.S. soil, let’s keep things in perspective. The Mass Shooting Tracker has recorded more than 300 mass shooting incidents this year, killing more than 400 Americans and wounding nearly 1,200. Some are school shootings, some are suicide-by-cops, and some are tied to drug violence. I think I’m accurate in stating that only one incident — killing five and wounding two — could be construed as an example of domestic, Islamic-inspired terrorism. I don’t see anyone making sweeping denunciations of mentally unstable white adolescents who predominate among the school shooters, or the unemployed, middle-aged white males who predominate among the suicide-by-cop cases. There is no justification for singling out law-abiding Muslims for special scorn.

Neither is there any defending the bigotry on display in Spotsylvania. All Virginians — especially conservatives — should condemn it.

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23 responses to “NOT Every Muslim Is a Terrorist

  1. be interesting to see who responds and how………..

  2. Jim gets some of this right.

    The guy in Fredricksburg should have stayed home that night. The most charitable light in which to view his comments is to assume he lost his temper and said some things he now regrets saying. However, those of us who have been around this blog for awhile know there is something in the water in Fredricksburg that prompts people to exhibit TDS – Temporary Derangement Syndrome. Are bath salts legal in Spotsylvania County?

    Tomorrow marks the 41st anniversary of the Birmingham bombings. The Provisional Wing of the Irish Republican Army planted a number of bombs in pubs in Birmingham, England. The bombs exploded killing 21 and injuring almost 200. Did Americans rail against Irish Catholics? Did anybody claim that all Catholics are terrorists? Did anybody oppose the building of a new Catholic church? Of course not.

    However, leaving anti-Islam sentiments aside, there is a very legitimate question of what to do about refugees from the area. The idea that ISIS won’t try to sneak a few terrorists into the US seems preposterous to me. How did the 9/11 terror attacks occur? Covert agents came into the country under false pretenses, hijacked four airplanes and killed thousands of innocent people.Sorry folks but that’s what happened. I am sure the danger of terrorist attack doesn’t seem so clear and present from Henrico County as it seems to somebody who lives near DC and travels frequently to Manhattan. Six or seven terrorists with Ak-47s would be enough to ruin your whole day.

    Jim’s blog post would have been almost tolerable if he had left his mass shooting tracker absurdity out of the story. Hell, only five deaths from Islamic-inspired terrorism. I am sure that the families of those five would be happy to know that their loved ones represent an asterisk or after-though in Jim’s mind. Jim also manages to pick this year as his example in a disgusting case of data cherry picking. How would Jim’s numbers have looked in 2001? Twelve of my colleagues died in the World Trade Center, a business partner died on one of the flights from Boston, the 22 year old son of another business partner died on the other flight. One of my friends died in the Pentagon. Perhaps if the next attack (and there will be more attacks) occurs in Richmond Jim won’t be so quick to dismiss the low odds of death from “Islamic-inspired terrorism”.

    Jim, your comments at the end of that blog post are disgraceful.

    • I’m not cherry picking anything. 9/11 was plotted by al Qaeda operatives operating in sanctuaries in Afghanistan and executed by non-citizens, not by Muslim-American citizens. Jihadist ideology indisputably has inspired some terror attacks by Muslim-Americans — I don’t characterize the Fort Hood shootings as “workplace violence” as some laughably do — but the level of such attacks is no more than other terrorist-like incidents we endure in this country every week. Some middle-aged white guy going postal is just as likely to ruin your whole day.

      • 9/11 – foreign born Islamic terrorists in the country legally.

        Recruiting center killings – foreign born Islamic terrorist in the country legally.

        A large group of well organized and well armed middle aged white guys have not declared war on the West in general and America in particular. Middle aged American white guys are not indiscriminately killing civilians from Paris to Mali to London to Manhattan.

        If you can’t understand the difference between criminality and global acts of war then you are both in denial and a big part of the problem.

        Per your words, “mentally unstable white adolescents” are a criminal problem. However, they have never killed nearly 3,000 American civilians in a single day nor are they working to make mustard gas (as ISIS is rumored to be doing).

        In the past week there have been at least two well organized attacks on two continents by Islamic-inspired terrorists killing hundreds of people. How you compare that to some psychotic loon randomly killing people is beyond me. Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie & Clyde and Al Capone were dangerous criminals who led a reign of terror in America through the 30s and 40s. At the same time a man named Hitler was gathering steam in Europe. In retrospect, the war was a much bigger deal than the criminals. Had America had a more realistic view of Hitler before 1941 perhaps we could have short circuited the greatest fiasco in Western civilization’s history.

        Should we persecute law-abiding Muslims? Of course not.

        Should we be so politically correct that we can’t admit that Islamic-inspired terrorism is a much greater threat than common criminal behavior? I hope not.

  3. Dear Jim,

    I think one can draw a reasonable distinction between Muslims already here being able to build their Mosques where they please, and an immigration policy that encourages the mass arrival of Muslims. Although there have been Muslim rulers who have tolerated Christians, in Spain, for example, Orthodox Christians in the east have a long history of oppression by Muslims. Being an insignificant minority in America, in terms of numbers, most Muslims are not a threat to our country. But Islam, if practiced by large numbers of people in this country, would be more potent, and the danger would rise. Islam, as an historic religion, is not the sort of “privatized” or compartmentalized “faith system” that much Christian belief has been relegated to since the Enlightenment, but communal and political. But the bellicosity of the speak er you cite in the video is extremely unfortunate. I think that the Western Europeans have a greater cause for concern.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

    • As I said, reasonable people can debate how to handle the issue of Syrian refugees.

      The question of how many Muslims we should allow into the country is a very different issue, and I did not address that in my post. As a general principle, I would say this: Muslims who come into this country must respect our institutions and way of life. As long as they do, and as long as they obey the laws, they should be free to practice as they please.

      • “The question of how many Muslims we should allow into the country is a very different issue, and I did not address that in my post.”

        True, you avoided the real issue completely.

  4. And I agree with you, Jim.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  5. I learned in grade school that Muslims, Jews and Christians were members of three great faiths that had their roots in the Patriarch Abraham.

    • Yes, and the Irish – Catholic members of the Irish Republican Army were Catholics of Irish descent just like me. They killed British civilians indiscriminately. I did not. What they did do was solicit money in the United States for “the Cause”.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201943.html

      Should the FBI have infiltrated places where Irish – American Catholics congregate in an effort to stop the funding of a foreign terrorist group? As an Irish – American Catholic I say, “Hell yes”. It wasn’t the Protestants or Jews or Muslim Americans funding the IRA, it was the Catholics. It wasn’t the Italian – Americans, the African – Americans or the WASPs of Henrico County funding the IRA it was Irish – Americans. And it was the Irish – American Catholics who needed to be watched, arrested, indicted, convicted and imprisoned for aiding and abetting terrorism.

      Were all Irish – American Catholics funding terrorism? Of course not.

      Were Irish – American Catholics the vast majority of US – based funding for the IRA? Of course.

  6. Sometimes during one of those inspiring Coke commercials like this:

    https://youtu.be/ib-Qiyklq-Q

    My heart swells with what we are capable of if we really want to ….

    and then at other times- like this – I’m brought back hard to the reality of how bad we can be even when we know better.

  7. Thanks Jim for standing up for what it really means to be a conservative.

  8. Racism, panic and xenophobia are old themes in American politics and I am ashamed to see so many Republicans rushing once more to embrace them. ISIS no more represents Islam than the KKK represents Christianity (remember, those are crosses those particular morons love to burn.) Both ISIS and the KKK are political organizations using racism and religious zealotry to achieve political goals. The KKK is no longer much of a force in this country, but it was and sadly could be again.

    About the only presidential candidate who has sounded rational on this is Jim Gilmore.

    I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president and I’ve never not voted for president. I’m afraid I will be looking at those two choices in a year. Call me a RINO, dismiss me as the Establishment – but try to win an election without voters like me and see where you get, people.

  9. Well done, Jim.

    Borrowing some of your text, I elaborate a bit more here: http://www.economicsandethics.org/2015/11/home-grown-terrorism.html

    Best, Jonathan Wight

    • There have been 300 people killed in mass shootings so far this year. That’s terrible, fair enough. On a single day Islamic-inspired terrorists murdered about 10X that many innocent Americans using airplanes, not guns.

      “So far as we can see in America, we have a home-grown problem of violence leading to murder, not a Muslim problem. Based on the murder statistics above, it would seem prudent for European nations to prohibit all American males between 18-30 and from entering the continent.”

      That would be an interesting point if not for the facts. The two largest mass killings in France this year were perpetuated by Islamic-inspired terrorists, not American males between 18-30.

      There was another Islamic-inspired atrocity in Mali yesterday. The only American males between 18-30 involved in that mass murder were US Special Forces helping Malian military evacuate the building and kill the terrorists.

  10. Here’s what’s not being discussed on this thread:

    1. The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected the acceptance of more Syrian refugees. The significant majority was only possible because 41 Democratic members voted to limit Syrian refugee entry into the US. The majority is large enough to override a presidential veto.

    2. Harry Reid has promised to block consideration of the bill in the US Senate. Note – he has not promised to rally opposition to the bill and defeat it through a democratic process, he has promised to block the bill – presumably through filibuster or other procedural means.

    3. Obama, speaking in Kuala Lampur, has pledged to continue accepting Syrian refugees. To date, he has promised to veto the bill – which is his constitutional right and part of the democratic process.

    4. The recent killings in France were masterminded by an ISIS operative born in Belgium, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud became radicalized and left Europe for Syria to train as an ISIS operative. The Europeans became very suspicious of Abaaoud and had arrest warrants for him. It seems that he came back to Europe posing as a Syrian refugee (although this is still being investigated). Many of Europe’s Syrian refugees have come through Greece (possibly including the mastermind of the Paris killings). The Greek government is adamant that there is no way to vet Syrian refugees between legitimate asylum seekers and terrorist operatives.

    http://news.yahoo.com/nearly-impossible-jihadists-among-migrants-greeks-warn-084048253.html

    “At the camp, dozens of migrants and refugees queue to give their fingerprints, have a photo taken and be quizzed by agents from European border agency Frontex.

    It’s a seemingly detailed security check, but jihadists have already proven they can bypass it with ease.

    The suspected architect of the Paris attacks that killed 130 people, 28-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, escaped from Europe to Syria and returned without being detected.

    French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve this week suggested Abaaoud, who was killed in a police raid in Paris on Wednesday, had passed through Greece.”

    “Still, it was thanks to Greece’s fingerprints database — and a passport found near the scene of the attack — that French and Greek authorities were able to determine that one of the men who blew himself up outside the Stade de France on November 13 had registered himself as Syrian refugee Ahmad al-Mohammad on the island of Leros on October 3.

    On Friday, French prosecutor Francois Molins said a second Stade de France bomber had passed through Greece posing as a migrant.”

    So, terrorists posing as Syrian refugees are passing into Europe and killing and maiming innocent civilians by the hundreds. Our elected representatives in the House of Representatives want to stop the inflow of Syrian refugees into the United States. However, a single US Senator wants to use procedural means to avoid a vote on the matter because “I don’t think we’ll be dealing with it over here.”

    Forget the anti-Muslim blowhard in Fredricksburg – this is the real issue.

    • I agree with you Don for the reasons you state, and also more. What in the end tipped it for me were the Chants of so many at the Istanbul soccer match. It’s a Fool’s Errand taking these hidden and often long dormant risks we cannot control.

      See:

      http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/18/world/paris-soccer-fans-turkey/

      That being said, I feel that our failure to act in this instance to protect these people (Muslims and Christians alike) when we could a few years back through until today, has contributed much to the current plight of so many of these innocents. We have a responsibility to, along with others, help them to remain safe and secure in their own lands “over there.”

      Militarily, I am confident that we can do this, and enhance our own safety here at the same time. This way everyone benefits, and horrible risks voluntarily and foolishly taken are avoided here.

  11. Don, you are making my point. It may be an issue but your solution is ridiculous. There is a process to vet refugees and they do not worry me. European-born murderers with valid passports who come in with no review, they worry me. American citizens who have been turned into killers by ISIS propaganda or jihadi mosques right here in the homeland – they worry me. Nobody has shown that an actual Syrian was involved in any of this, just people who traveled there. These murderers can come from any place – witness Mali yesterday. Do we really bar all Muslims from anywhere? Is that not exactly what ISIS would love us to do – prove to all Muslims that the West hates them?

    If there is a significant difference between you and the anti-Muslim blowhard in Fredericksburg, I am missing it.

    But, as I said, I get the politics. It sickens me, but I get it.

    • Please point out where I offered a solution. As far as I can see, I simply detailed the problem. Be specific. Let me know where I said that the Syrian refugees either should or should not be allowed to continue to come to the US.

      Please point to the specific text where I wrote that “we (should) really bar all Muslims from anywhere”. You seem to have a number of skills. It’s a shame that reading comprehension is not among them.

      As for whether the European terrorists came from Syria or not is quite irrelevant. The question is whether the influx of “unvettable” refugees provided an entry point for terrorists to get into Europe. The answer to that question seems to be an obvious “yes”.

      As usual, you have failed to address the issue at hand. That issue is whether the US should admit people into the country when it cannot reasonably determine whether those people represent a threat or not. In the case of many Muslims from many places this is not an issue. A businessman from Turkey with a valid passport and a verifiable past is of no more concern than a businessman from Canada with a valid passport and a verifiable past. The issue arises when you are considering the large scale immigration of refugees with no realistic means to vet those refugees. That issue is magnified when our avowed enemies have used the refugee admittance process to infiltrate European countries and indiscriminately kill hundreds of innocent people. The final escalation of this issue is the fact that the enemies at hand are well financed, well organized and quite effective.

      Why don’t you educate yourself with a review of the list of terrorist attacks so far in 2015 …

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2015

      Let me guess … like Harry Reid you assume “it won’t happen here”.

      So, onto the fundamental question at hand – Should the United States suspend the Syrian refugee influx (per the House of Representatives vote) or should we continue admitting Syrian refugees (per Harry Reid and Barak Obama’s comments)? When you answer this question (assuming you have the courage to do so) please avoid mindless platitudes like “all Muslims from anywhere” or “I get the politics”. Try to stay focused on the actual question at hand.

  12. Indeed, politics is the issue. Our politicians are merely a mirror reflecting the electorate, and that reflection looks ugly to me on the Republican side. So, when did it become politically acceptable, even desirable, to adopt an isolationist, xenophobic stance in this country, notwithstanding our history as a land of immigrants, a predominantly Christian nation? This picture illustrates where we ought to be: . Did we imagine that the proper reaction to the shootings in Charleston was to build a fence around that church and issue pre-screened passports to those wanting to come inside?

  13. 100% of the Muslims I know aren’t terrorists. They’re not any different than us, except they would veer closer to conservative Hindus and Christians in terms of dress and outlook. You have crazies of every group.

  14. To LarryG — how did you post that video clip of the Coca-cola commercial? Wasn’t able to find a way to post a .jpg in WordPress comments, and assumed video was the same.

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