Resist Islamophobia

I went to bed last night after spending numerous hours looking everywhere for details about the Paris terrorist attacks, which were horrific in nature. I know a few people who are over there right now, and a few more who live there full time, and I was anxious for a short time, as I tried to find out any information I could. What slapped me in the face was the incredible religious bigotry so many people have.

Please, people, stop.

I mean, I’ve seen it many times before, but when something like this happens, it’s almost as if there is a child-like need to affix blame to a broad group that is easy to identify and that, whether you like it or not, is bigoted. We have to be better than that. About a week and a half ago, some liberal podcasters I listen to regularly went off on Islam, as if the entire religion was to blame for everything bad that happens in the Middle East, which is absurd, especially when you consider that most of the victims of terrorism are also Muslim. They got so bad, they accused Reza Aslan of spinning things. You know, because Azlan has a tendency to blame terrorist attacks on, well, the terrorists, and not Islam itself. Which, unfortunately, makes sense.

Last night, though, it was even worse, as everyone concluded that “Muslims” were responsible for the attacks, even before law enforcement had done an investigation. Many otherwise rational people were blaming “Islam” for the attacks and some of them, mostly atheists, blamed religion in general.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m no fan of religion. I’m not an atheist, but I find religion to be ridiculous. However, that’s just me; if people find comfort and a little bit of peace from worshipping a certain way, who am I to judge, as long as they’re not hurting anyone? And let’s face it; the overwhelming majority of people who claim faith in a religion are peaceful and do nothing wrong. There us also the reality that most of the victims of “Muslim extremist” groups like ISIL are, in fact, Muslim. The day before they hit Paris with coordinated attacks, ISIL sent suicide bombers into Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 and wounding about 250 more. Of course, that attack got very little coverage because the victims were probably mostly Muslim and they weren’t white.

Why do we seem to only make the distinction about religion when Muslims are involved? When you look at the domestic terrorism that happens here far too often, we never note that the perpetrator is almost always a Christian; yet, when a radical group like ISIL is involved, all of a sudden the hand wringing is all about the religion.

That makes no sense. I mean, none at all; there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, so if there was something inherently violent about the religion, we’d all be dead. Are there portions of the Kuran that are violent and troubling? Yes, if someone was to take everything in the book literally and do everything it said as written, that is a possibility. But there is a lot of that in every religious book, including the Bible. Most religious people do have the ability to understand that none of these books are meant to be taken literally and that they are meant to be used as guidebooks, not instruction manuals that must be followed, under penalty of death.

What I’m trying to say here is, we have to resist the temptation to blame an entire religion on the deeds of a few people who choose to use religion as a club with which to beat other people. If Islam is the problem, then explain why so many countries with significant Muslim populations have little or no problem. The only region with a serious problem is the Middle East; a region that was under the thumbs of colonizing powers for centuries and whose leaderships have largely been chosen by those former colonizing powers to “keep order.” When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, lines were drawn and countries created out of whole cloth by powers that only cared about the oil, and disparate groups were thrown together into countries to be run by hand-chosen dictators; you think that might have something to do with why they’re angry?

There is a problem in the Middle East; everyone would agree with that. However, we’re never going to solve that problem until we acknowledge what is causing it, and religion is not it.

ISIL made a major tactical error yesterday. They attacked Paris and they attacked the Paris of the Middle East. They have infuriated everyone in the world, including most Muslims. Stand with the French people and with Muslims worldwide to stop their oppression and to stop the terrorism once and for all. Islamophobia is not only borne out of ignorance, it hurts a lot of innocent people. Trust me when I tell you, most Muslims hate ISIL as much or more than you do. Can the Islamophobia.

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