It’s been a brutal week for humanity, but particularly for Muslims. Over 200 Iraqi Muslims were killed and scores more were wounded on June 3 when an ISIS suicide bomber deliberately targeted a market in Baghdad where Muslims gathered when breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. And while Americans celebrated Independence Day, suicide bombers targeted one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in the Saudi city of Medina. The attacks in Iraq and Saudi Arabia capped off a truly horrific week that saw extremists kill over 20 people in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and over 40 people at one of the world’s busiest airports in Istanbul, Turkey.
Since Muslims are overwhelmingly the most likely victims of terrorism, you would think that, as fellow humans and supposed promoters of the free exercise of religion, Americans would empathize with Muslims and recognize that whatever perverse ideology ISIS subscribes to has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. After all, ISIS’s stated goal is to “eliminate the grayzone” of coexistence between Muslims and the Western world. This is not some educated hypothesis: after their attacks in Paris, ISIS explicitly told the world, in their online magazine, what the purpose of their violence is:
The attack had “further [brought] division to the world,” the group said, boasting that it had polarized society and “eliminated the grayzone,” representing coexistence between religious groups. As a result, it said, Muslims living in the West would soon no longer be welcome in their own societies. Treated with increasing suspicion, distrust and hostility by their fellow citizens as a result of the deadly shooting, Western Muslims would soon be forced to “either apostatize … or they [migrate] to the Islamic State, and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens . . . .”
Unfortunately, terrorism works, and many Americans, both political elites and average Joes, are unknowingly working overtime to help ISIS’s stated goal become a reality. Whether their actions are due to willful ignorance or are done consciously for political gain, they will be a black mark on America’s history. Here are some stories about lawyers and politicians from the past week.
“Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery Spent Public Money on Islam-Bashing Seminar.” In the grand scheme of hate, not a big deal, I suppose. Blowing $40,000 of public money to get hatemonger John Guandolo to “train” county prosecutors and law enforcement on anti-Muslim conspiracy theories . . . I’m sure nothing will go wrong there.
Next up: Ted Cruz “elevated fringe anti-Muslim conspiracy theories to the level of a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, inviting a panelist who said that leading Muslim American civil rights organizations are infiltrated by terrorists and that the Obama administration is covering it up.” And that conspiracy theorist was Chris Gaubatz, who works for a nonprofit organization founded by – you guessed it – John Guandolo! And I’m not just picking on the lunatic fringe here: Cruz finished second to another Muslim-conspiracy-theorist, Donald Trump, in the race for the Republican nomination for President, and no Republican member of Congress condemned Gaubatz’s wildly untrue testimony.
Democrats have their own Islamaphobic problems. They recently staged a gun-control sit-in to get a vote on their bill banning those on the due-process-nightmare “terrorist watchlist” from buying guns. Over one million people are on the list, including babies and a four-year old, and Muslims are almost certainly unfairly targeted by the list (we don’t know because it’s a secret government list, but the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has filed a class-action lawsuit taking aim at the federal government’s sweeping terrorist watchlisting system). The watchlist was started under President Bush after 9/11, but has continued to expand under President Obama. This is in addition to numerous other policies started or expanded under President Obama that disproportionately target and dehumanize Muslims, including mass surveillance increases and extrajudicial killings via drones.
This type of inflammatory rhetoric and misguided policy, if it existed in a vacuum, would be bad enough. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. People hear prejudiced words and take prejudiced action. Hate crimes against Muslims have been on the rise since Trump issued his “Muslim Ban proposal.” Below is a summary of news stories from just the past week.
“Surveillance Video Shows Two Muslim Youths Viciously Beaten Outside A Brooklyn Mosque” (In this story, you see a police spokesperson oddly, just hours after the attack, describe this as a “non-bias incident,” even though it occurred outside a mosque and the attacker allegedly yelled “You fucking terrorist” as he punched and kicked one of the boys. Perhaps not surprising since the NYPD had the infamous Muslim-spying program that led to zero leads and zero arrests but did lead to an expensive lawsuit).
“Minneapolis police on Thursday confirmed they’re investigating the recent shooting of two Muslim men as a possible hate crime.” (Silver lining for me: at least my old home state seems willing to investigate this as an obvious hate crime?)
These are just the incidents I noticed in the news from the past seven days, and this despite the fact that crime statistics and surveys indicate that American Muslims have no greater predilection for violence than any other American religious group. But you’d never know it listening to mainstream American media or politicians, in no small part because promoting Islamaphobia is a very lucrative business, and the term “terrorism” has become a useless propaganda term to delineate when a suspect is a Muslim.
I’ll conclude by posting the end of this Intercept story on Cruz’s Muslim-bashing Senate hearing (everyone should read The Intercept – it’s journalism with a purpose, and that purpose is to expose corruption, lies, and misinformation from those in power, whether Democrat or Republican). I can’t get over how Cruz, a Harvard-Law-educated person, says something this fantastically stupid. Bigotry blinds, I guess.
Cruz ended the event on Tuesday by taking offense at the analogy drawn by some Democrats between the Ku Klux Klan and Christianity, on one side, and terrorist organizations that invoke Islam, on the other.
“Several of my colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle made invocations of the Ku Klux Klan, and drew the analogy of blaming the Klan on Christians to addressing directly and candidly the threat of jihadism and radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.
“I would hope that all of us on both sides of the aisles could agree that the Ku Klux Klan is evil and bigoted and has no place in civilized society, and I would note that the suggestion that that could somehow be extended to the Christian faith, Dr. Martin Luther King and many of the civil rights pioneers were Christian ministers!”
The fact that Cruz was vindicating the analogy rather than refuting it was apparently lost on the Texas Senator.