Today I saw something that made me angry. In brief, it was an open post which was a brazen display of self-righteous Islamophobia. The author claimed that terrorist Muslims (about a million by his count) want to destroy the world, and blow up buildings, and that extremists of other religions (such as Christianity) are cuddly puppies by comparison. He even went so far as to state that Muslims in North America are less dangerous because they are living amongst well-meaning Christians. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but you get the idea.
First, let me state clearly that while I think that the whole idea of religion should be written off as an obsolete idea, I also believe in personal choice. That being said, there are several different reasons that this made me angry.
1. His assertion that only Muslims blow up buildings. Yes, 9/11 was definitely among the most devastating. However, Christian extremists blow up abortion clinics, set fire to rival places of worship, and make death threats on a scarily frequent basis. If you want to be scared of terrorists, by all means feel free, but you should really be afraid of all of them, not just the ones that the media tells you to fear.
2. Which brings me to my second point- this guy has obviously been watching all the right propaganda, and all the wrong news. I'm fairly certain that even the Muslim terrorist extremists don't have "Destroy the World" written in their day planners. Destroy the West, maybe. Destroy America, probably. There are likely a whole list of things on their 'to destroy' list, but the world? I think I hear Fox news calling... In point of fact, Christian extremists seem far more interested in having the world come to an end. In addition, although extremist Muslim centres have an abysmal lack of human rights, particularly as pertains to women, some of the legislation being promoted by extremist Christians in the U.S. is definitely shudder-worthy. Things like being able to level criminal charges against a woman for potentially endangering her unborn child (even by accident, or if she didn't even know she was pregnant). Not just the religious fanatics to watch out for regarding human rights violations, either, as this article demonstrates: (Misogyny among police). But I digress...
3. Overall his arguments are ignorant, fed by propaganda without having bothered to look up the reality. He pushes these opinions forward with all the fervor of a fanatic, while all the while claiming to be skeptical and rational.
I don't disagree that terrorists are dangerous, but I think that ignoring all of the other terrorists in the world to get your hate on for one group is more dangerous. I think generalizing about groups of people can also be dangerous, as can being inflexible in your thinking. I could also mention that discriminating against a group of people is not going to make them any less likely to be terrorists.
I would like to use my anger to point out that extremes of any religion or ideology can be dangerous; they can and have led to violence. I would also like to use my anger to say that as much as it might be easier, we cannot lay the blame for violence at the feet of any one group. It is up to us, as individuals, to reign in our anger and put it to work, to refuse to initiate or tolerate violence in our lives, to tell our governments that unchecked anger, fear, and violence are not acceptable. It is up to us to judge each person individually, without stereotype or prejudice.
So, be angry if you must; just be rational about it.