Leading up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday, if you knew me personally, you would’ve heard me make this point:
Given that 1) there are 3 million Muslims in the US and 2) guns, legal or illegal, are notoriously easy to procure anywhere in the US, then if the stereotype holds true that Muslims are generally a bunch of angry jihadists taking orders from ISIS, then surely there would be at least one incident over the holiday weekend. Surely there would be one person that got hold of some guns and went out there and ruined a lot of lives. Surely there would be at least a foiled plot, right?
Yet, the only act of terrorism that occurred in the US on Black Friday was several murders and a hostage situation at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Of course, with the assailant not being Muslim or of color, he was subsequently not a terrorist. Instead, he was just a mentally unstable man who was economically depressed. His ideological and political attitudes were unaffiliated to any anti-abortion talk from a major political party or political ideology. He was absolutely, completely unattached to any identifiable group. It would be irresponsible and ignorant to take his behavior and judge all white American males of Christian conservative background, with or without anti-abortion sentiments.
Then again, would that be ignorant? Some mass shootings making big headlines – a community college in Oregon, a church in South Carolina, a biker club in Texas, a movie theater in Louisiana – would indicate that white males are a very dangerous group of people. To be fair, digging a bit further, I do find a lot of mass shootings involving black and Latino assailants as well. However, except for a teen in Tennessee with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, there have been no mass shootings involving Muslims in the US this year. Again, to be fair, there was an attempt in Garland, TX, but that was laid to rest very quickly (predictably, anti-Islam meeting + Texas = lots of gun totting individuals, armed and ready).
How about threats? Since Paris, Muslims, as individuals or groups, have received unprecedented amounts of threats. Even before Paris, there have been attacks such as being beaten by a stranger just for speaking a foreign language on a cell phone. There have been threats against mosques and community organizations, going back from before ISIS, and particularly to 2008, when anti-Muslim rhetoric really began to flare up unabashedly.
What’s really terrorism is what the media makes into terrorism. A man, going into a place that provides a service contrary to his ideology, shooting the customers of that place and taking hostages, would be committing an act of terrorism only if that man subscribes to Islam. Otherwise, he’s just deranged. He’s just mentally unstable. He’s on economic hard times. And it certainly has nothing to do with gun control. The analysis goes no further than the individual as an outlier in the dataset. We can continue to pick on a minority group that comprises 1% of the American population or we can begin a truthful inquiry as to why anyone, Muslim or not, thinks shooting groups of people is a good idea.