Whether reading a liberal publication such as The Guardian or a conservative network such as Fox News or Breibart, every post-mass terrorism analysis always includes mentioning that Muslims must denounce the extremists within our communities. I don’t disagree with this statement. However, my issue is that I’ve never heard of these extremists. I think I’ve seen a pretty wide cross section of Muslims in America, from the relatively liberal to the relatively very conservative, and I go to the mosque regularly, and to Islamic classes, and I’ve never even so much heard anyone joke about an act of terrorism, let alone attempt to provide any sort of legitimacy to these actions.
If my experience is average for Muslims, then while we condemn these acts of terrorism in general and when they occur, I don’t know how we can condemn any specific person within our communities because we, or I at least, have never seen or personally heard of anyone openly supporting these actions. Furthermore, I am certain that in this age of mass surveillance, the proper authorities are well aware of anyone that is openly supporting these actions, or is at least attempting to provide any sort of legitimacy. They’re probably more quickly aware of them than we are ourselves.
Now the investigation so far is leaning toward Paris being a pre-planned, well coordinated attack involving outside elements, and not just disenfranchised French minorities. But if it were just disillusioned, angry men, then Muslims are being asked to know something that other groups aren’t able to know for themselves; when someone’s mere discontent is actually leading toward murderous action. While it’s generally easier to think of this in a minority context, this still applies to any other mass shooting, whether in Oregon, or Louisiana, or Connecticut, or South Carolina, or Norway, involving angry white males. Does anyone expect the community of political conservatives to know when one of theirs is getting ready to go on a murder spree?
However, since the preliminary results are pointing to ISIS, what is the Muslim world to do? We’re tired of the bombing campaigns because they’ve proven to be indecisive, leading to a perma-war stasis in every place the US has bombed in the last decade. I would be in favor of a major ground campaign, particularly by the surrounding Sunni Muslim nations, but I doubt that would happen. These countries are no more than lines in the sand. My father is as old as their national history. Given this lack of identity, these nations are fragile; their governments have more interest in maintaining power through suppression than through love of country. Suppress by force and suppress by welfare, as long as the people and society stay stunted in their development. Given that, I doubt they could engage in a major ground offensive without imploding.
It is also this dynamic that causes Muslims to appear hapless. We love being in the West but we don’t condone the endless wars. Nor do we support the inept governments in the Middle East (which is all of them). And we certainly don’t support the likes of ISIS or Al Qaeda, who kill and maim more Muslims, let alone non-Muslims, than any government. Our only viable choice is the only thing I’ve said in this entire blog; alleviating our own ignorance of Islam and Muslim history while also doing the same for the non-Muslims around us.