Political Leaders Encouraging Islamic Extremism

I live in a land where my right-wing political leaders openly and unabashedly encourage the Muslim population to hate and kill non-Muslims. They explain that it is my duty to hate and to act violently against non-Muslims until they accept Sharia Law. For those of us that are too weak-hearted or Westernized to do, they assure us that we will come around eventually.

Every major media outlet in my country affords them endless airtime to preach this message of hate.  I’m constantly told by my political leaders that “Islam hates [them]” and that it is an Islamic imperative to wage “civilizational Jihad” against the West. Even some of the religious leaders on the Right have been so explict as to say that Islam is at war with the world.  The message of hate that seemed pervasive in the Islamic State now seems to be inundating my country as well.

Meanwhile, the voices that preach peace, forbearance, patience, civility, and patriotism are rarely heard. The radial, religious-political firebrands in my country command too much control to allow these messages of peace to be heard. Their voices of anger and hate drown out the voices of sympathy, while claiming that the voices of anger speak representatively of Muslims and these voices of peace do not.

So I’ve turned off the TV. I don’t have cable. I don’t watch CNN, FoxNews, or MSNBC. I’m tired of being told that it is my duty to kill and murder. When I stay away from watching the news, I can focus more on the general peace that my Muslim community enjoys with our surrounding non-Muslim community. I can more clearly hear my local religious leaders, at every mosque across the country I’ve ever attended, ever, continue to explain, with proofs from the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, that Islam seeks peace, even when there is fighting, and that if there is fighting that it is our duty to drive to peace at any possibility and as early as possible. I can focus on the messages from these people that have spent much of their time and energy studying at respected, historical, Islamic institutions, and have lived in the United States for years. I can tune-out these messages from these laymen and politically motivated demagogues in the US and the IS who wish to use anger and discontent as their motivator rather than unity, peace, and compassion.

Just as there are right-wing Constitutionalists that espouse ideas of American governance far outside of the mainstream, who are widely-considered flatly wrong despite their ability to quote historical texts and history, such is the case for far right Islamic (or anti-Islamic) extremists. The fact is clear that most Muslims aren’t at war with anyone except those that are killing them (i.e. extremists). Between every Belgian and Parisian act of terrorism are dozens perpetrated against Muslims by those same perpetrators and ideologies. The solution isn’t as simple as “they need to turn them in.” That would be convenient if we all knew who that person was that ever wanted to commit a murder. It would be convenient if we all knew the tipping point from being angry about a situation and being violent about a situation. Yet, after all of my years of attending the mosque, going to events, talking with and hanging out with a wide range of Muslims, I’ve never had anyone even joke about committing an act of terrorism. While I am only one person, I have no reason to think I am any different from most Muslims or people in general.

Planned Parenthood Terrorism

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.