I suspected it would happen, just not as quickly as it did. Whenever acts of terror are committed in the name of Islam, there is generally a counter-attack from the enlightened, usually secular, but always “progressive,” flank of society in which the Islamic jihad is conflated with all types of religious fundamentalism.
It can be seen in newspapers’ letters to editors talking about how the Paris attacks were not about radical Muslims and that other religions and other groups are equally guilty of violence, people like abortion clinic bombers and Jewish settlers in Israel and the Western colonialists and our jailers at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, and so forth.
It is seen in the columns from those on the left (and from conservatives at The New York Times, who in the real world would be considered liberals) who say “I am not Charlie” because they think that reprinting the offensive cartoons of Muhammad is sheer bigotry, not an attempt to honor free speech.
It is heard in the comments from representatives of the Muslim community and their supporters of all faiths, or none, who say again and again that these vicious attacks do not represent the religion of peace.
I actually agree with that last statement, because in a world where more than a billion people honor Muhammad, the incidence of jihadist terror is statistically small. As an immigration lawyer, I know that most of the victims of fundamental Islamism are themselves members of the larger faith, and do not deserve to be lumped together with their homicidal brothers and sisters.
But I do not agree that fundamentalism of any stripe is comparable to what happened in Paris, to journalists in the Middle East, to 3,000 Americans in New York, to café patrons in Sydney, to subway passengers in London, to schoolchildren on buses in Tel Aviv and to 2,000 Nigerians in their villages.
When former Philadelphia Inquirer political cartoonist Tony Auth depicted Supreme Court justices with papal miters on their heads because he believed there was too much Catholic influence on the court, there were no parades of angry nuns with blazing torches in the streets of Philadelphia.
When he again depicted the Star of David in barbed wire, as if Israel had created a concentration camp to house the poor Palestinians, there were no bombings at the Inquirer building sponsored by the Israeli Consulate.
I’m also unaware of any rampages instigated by the Dalai Lama in response to the grossly obese Buddha statue at Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr’s Buddakhan establishment.
Clearly, the vast majority of Muslims are not jihadists, although not enough of them have distanced themselves vigorously from jihadist acts with a ringing denunciation of terror. Statements such as “Islam is a religion of peace” and “these people do not represent us even though we understand that they feel marginalized” are not as strong as “these are monsters and deserve to rot in hell for their crimes against humanity.”
However, it is ridiculous to even suggest that there is any parity at all between abortion clinic bombers and members of al-Qaida, the Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL or whatever other acronym we need to use to keep up with the changing face of terror.
In the first place, most clinic protestors are peaceful, if not annoying. The number of clinic bombings pale in comparison to the victims of jihadist attacks, and it’s been about a thousand years since Christians regularly targeted entire populations of those who didn’t share their religion, give or take an Inquisition.
I really don’t mean to be flippant about this, but it’s unnerving to see how some people will insist on minimizing the religious aspect of Islamic terror by doing some very gross and poorly thought out comparisons with other faiths and other instances of violence. We do the Muslim world no favor by ignoring the role that the Quran has played in the blueprint of extremism or by exaggerating the role of the Bible. It is not bigotry to point out that while the majority of Muslims reject terror, the vast majority of those acts of terror are perpetrated, at least in this day and age, by those who invoke Allah as their protector.
Some are trying to dilute the relevance of Islam in the recent Paris attacks in good faith. They don’t want to heap any more shame or blame upon communities that they already view as victimized and marginalized. That’s both understandable and laudable. But that does not permit them to make broad generalizations about how “all extremism is wrong,” thereby implying that all religions are equally responsible for acts of terror. They are clearly not, and those who deny this are sociological ostriches hiding their heads in some very dangerous sand.
There are bad Christians, bad Hindus, bad Buddhists, bad atheists and very good Muslims. That is irrelevant to what happened in Paris, because the blood wasn’t on their hands: it dripped from palms that, at other times, were raised in prayer to Allah. And until we admit that without equivocating, we are insuring that more blood will flow.