Muslims Don’t Need Better PR, Americans Need More Tolerance
The last time I checked, most Muslims in the United States were not blowing themselves up in suicide attacks against their fellow Americans. They were not issuing fatwas against Harry Potter or converting your favorite folk singer.
In fact, as far as I can tell, most Muslims across the globe are mostly peaceful. There’s some problems with religious fanaticism in the Middle East, but those problems are largely due to a toxic mix of post-colonialism, post-imperialism, autocracy, massive oil reserves, and globalization. You could throw almost any religion into that soup and see it radicalized overnight.
Either way, it’s simply bizarre to see Americans brought up on notions like ‘innocent until proven guilty’ spilling so much ink on the idea that all those peaceful or “moderate” Muslims should be constantly denouncing and distancing themselves from the “fundamentalist” Muslims. Not only does this imply that all fundamentalist Muslims are inherently violent – an extremely dubious claim – it also implies that Muslims writ large, including the vast majority of peaceful Muslims, are responsible for the sins of the few.
There are millions of American Muslims. How many acts of Muslim violence are on record here in the United States? September 11th was an anomaly, not part of a larger pattern. There are horror-stories of honor killings and other acts of violence here in the States, but these are exceedingly rare. Why do the millions of non-violent Muslims need to do anything more than simply remain non-violent in order to prove to Americans that they are not in fact sneaking into Christian houses at night to drink the blood of their sleeping infants?
No, the whole moderate-Muslims-need-to-speak-out meme is a ruse. It’s a deflection. No matter how much Muslims denounce terror, they will always be told they need to do more. This serves two purposes: first, it casts suspicion on all Muslims regardless of blame and shifts the responsibility for tolerance into their court; second, it distracts from the real issues facing this country, such as rising intolerance for religious pluralism, racism, and a foreign policy based on fear.
We’ve covered this ground before, and nothing has changed. Muslims are still being bombed by Americans at a far greater frequency than Americans are being bombed by Muslims. Yet for all that, American Muslims remain peaceful members of society. I don’t expect this to change. I do, however, expect Americans to uphold their belief in religious freedom – including the freedom to build a mosque wherever zoning permits allow, and to not be brought in front of a government commission investigating you simply because you’re a person of a specific faith.
I don’t doubt that Tim means well, but I’m afraid that all he’s doing is providing cover for those who don’t. I could say it’s time for moderate conservatives like Tim to denounce radicals in his tribe, but I don’t think that’s necessary. We own our own words, our own actions. We speak for ourselves.