Friday, November 6, 2009

The Tim McVeigh False Analogy

There is a popular meme going around the left in the wake of the Ft. Hood shootings. I even heard it deployed on an NPR discussion as I was driving earlier. It goes something like this: When Tim McVeigh carried out his act of domestic terrorism we didn't start focusing suspicion on white Christian males, therefore it's unfair or even bigoted to train our suspicion on Muslims when a Muslim carries out a terrorist act. This is a false analogy on multiple levels. 

First, Tim McVeigh's primary motivation, from what we know, had little to do with Christianity, and a lot to do with him being an anti-government radical. We do in fact focus plenty of suspicion on people who appear to be extremist anti-government radicals. Why? Because they fit the profile of people who could be a domestic terror threat.

Second, it is indisputable that there is a significant minority of Islam that is radical and supports terrorism. There have been numerous acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. There are even a significant number of Islamic clerics who support such actions and interpret the Koran accordingly. There are other religions, including Christianity, that contain violent extremists. But at the moment, the amount of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam, and justified by religious leaders, exceeds that of any other religion. 

It is unforunately often difficult to tell who is and is not an Islamic extremist. While it is wrong to smear all Muslims for the actions of an extremist minority, or the actions of a deranged individual who may have just misused his religion to self-justify his actions, in my opinion there is nothing bigoted or extreme about viewing Islam as a possible risk factor. That is why the FBI conducts surveillance of mosques in this country.

If there were Christian terror organizations comparable to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associates, or Christian theocracies like Iran, where ministers ruled, a significant minority of Christian clergy who advocated & justified terrorism, Christian schools that regularly produced terrorists, and numerous terrorist acts perpetrated by white Christian males, white Christian males would indeed fall under suspicion.

The vast majority of Muslims in the U.S. are good citizens like any other. Outrage at Major Hasan's crimes shouldn't obscure the fact that there are millions of Muslim citizens who are not murdering people, and thousands who serve honorably in the military. Some have sacrificed their lives in the service of this country. It is sad that being a Muslim in the U.S. can cause suspicion, or be seen as a risk factor for terrorism. And I don't blame Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism for being upset or angry at being seen as suspects. But that doesn't mean that everyone who views Islam as a risk factor for terrorism is some sort of bigot. Unfortunately reality indicates that it is a risk factor, and a risk factor not at all comparable to the risk factor of being a white Christian male.

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