…I thought I’d share a series of my tweets on the subject with you all. I started with a sad reply to the first tweet below…
After I tweeted “nobody wants to touch this tweet,” a couple of people were moved to retweet it — whether they simply noticed it a little later than it was tweeted or they were responding to my ‘nobody wants’ statement, I don’t know.
But I do know this: a lot of folks are very quick to condemn group X that they are not personally part of or acquainted with when something bad hits the news. The worse the news, the louder the outcry.
But those same folks don’t condemn the group when the person who is guilty is part of their own group or a group they are well acquainted with on a positive personal level. Then, they’re all about “well the ones who did this awful things weren’t REALLY part of group X” or “you have to blame the individual.”
Since this series of tweets touches upon the 9/11 terrorist attack, I’ll go with Islam for a moment. Yes, the perpetrators identified as Muslim. Yes, there’s a nasty vein of violent extremism that supports or perpetrates awful things — think 9/11 attackers or ISIS or Boko Haram.
That doesn’t have a hell of a lot to do with the people FLEEING this kind of violence who are also Muslim, no more than an Italian fleeing Mussolini in the 1930s had to do with Fascist violence.
There are people who identify as Christian in the United States who talk about doing the kind of thing that ISIS or Boko Haram is doing. They talk about assassinating politicians they don’t agree with and blowing things up and bringing about the rule of their particular view of their denomination of their branch of the religion they identify as. I’m using that “identify with/as” language very deliberately, by the way. “They’re not real [religion]” is often said, and often with reason. Most mainstream religious believers or agnostic or cultural-but-not-believing individuals don’t think blowing up buildings or murdering or even waging war is a great idea. They’d rather do without this whole “war” thing.
And that’s my point. It’s not to say that Christians want to blow up federal buildings or Muslims want to raze villages in Nigeria. Quite the opposite. And it’s not to say there’s no danger in the actions or words of extremists who claim that there needs to be violence in the name of imposing their vision of religion or ideology Z. There is. There’s a lot of danger. And these people who would do violence often move within the body of the larger society seeking the opportunity to inspire or perpetrate violence. That’s undeniable.
Let’s be honest: it’s scary. The odds say we’re more likely to be struck down by lightning than extremists in the vast majority of locales. But it’s still scary — the press and their breathless reporting (OMG DID YOU SEE THAT WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE, the crawl on CNN and the headline in the paper say daily, because it gets attention and eyeballs and clicks and advertiser attention) isn’t helping a bit in that regard.
But what we need to do is NOT cast an assumptive eye on all people who share some superficial common identification with murderers. What we need to do is what we’re already doing — and sadly often overdoing in the name of that assumptive eye. We need to watch for the murderous. And we need to do it, whenever we can possibly manage it and even when it’s “too hard,” without that assumptive eye on the innocent. That assumptive eye, when it turns to action that harasses and imposes judgment, is the easiest thing extremists use as evidence that the world hates ALL of whatever-dom and they must lash out to clear a place for their religion or ideology or whatever to live.
I welcome your comments.