Friday, December 04, 2015

The Hypocrisy of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Statistically, the vast majority of mass shootings and acts of terrorism in America are committed by white, male Christians.  This inconvenient reality is ignored time and time again by those on the right who always describe the shooters as "lone wolves" and reject any suggestion that terrorist acts by Christians and gun loving, knuckle dragging whites is a problem.  The shootings at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center by Robert Lewis Dear, reportedly an end times Christian, and the right's reaction are an example.  Yet, after the shootings in San Bernadino, the right is in a frenzy depicting all Muslims as would be terrorists.  A column in the Washington Post lloooks at the hypocrisy and double standard at play.  Here are highlights:
The most recent act of horrific violence in the United States — in San Bernardino, Calif. — was reportedly perpetrated by a Muslim man and woman. There are about 3 million Muslims in the United States, almost all of whom are law-abiding citizens. How should they react to the actions of the couple who killed 14 people on Wednesday? 

The most commonly heard response is that Muslims must immediately and loudly condemn these acts of barbarity. But Dalia Mogahed, a Muslim American leader, argues eloquently that this is unfair. She made her case to NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“According to the FBI, the majority of domestic terrorist attacks are actually committed by white, male Christians. . . . When those things occur, we don’t suspect other people who share their faith and ethnicity of condoning them. We assume that these things outrage them just as much as they do anyone else. And we have to afford that same assumption of innocence to Muslims.” 
Muslims face a double standard, but I understand why. Muslim terrorists don’t just happen to be Muslim. They claim to be motivated by religion, cite religious justifications for their actions and tell their fellow Muslims to follow in their bloody path. . . . .it is important for the majority of Muslims who profoundly disagree with jihad to speak up.

But it is also important to remember that there are 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet. If you took the total number of deaths from terrorism last year — about 30,000 — and assumed that 50 people were involved in planning each one (a vastly exaggerated estimate), it would still add up to less than 0.1 percent of the world’s Muslims. 

While I believe that Muslims do bear a responsibility to speak up, non-Muslims also have a responsibility not to make assumptions about them based on such a small minority. Individuals should be judged as individuals and not placed under suspicion for some “group characteristic.” It is dehumanizing and un-American to do otherwise.

What is most bizarre is to hear this anti-Muslim rhetoric described as brave truth-telling. Trump insists that he will not be silenced on this issue. Chris Christie says that he will not follow a “politically correct” national security policy. They are simply feeding a prejudice. The reality is that Muslims are today the most despised minority in America. Their faith is constantly criticized, and they face insults, discrimination and a dramatic rise in acts of violence against them, as Max Fisher of Vox has detailed superbly. And the leading Republican candidate has flirted with the idea of registering Muslims, a form of collective punishment that has not been seen since the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s. 

This is the first time that I can recall watching politicians pander to mobs — and then congratulate themselves for their political courage.

If the right wants to apply this standard to Muslims, lets apply it to right wing Christians as well.  Let's assume they all support attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities - I suspect many, in fact do - the murder of abortion providers, and the murder of gays.  And let's start demanding that other Christians repeatedly and loudly condemn them.  And if they fail to do so, then let's start treating them all as would be terrorists too.

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