In the aftermath of Paris and SanBernardino, much of the conversation here in the United States has been to look to “radical Islam” as the main culprit for the motivation for these attacks. But this argument is woefully ignorant of the real problem: radical ideology. It is not the inherent teachings of Islam that make it violent any more than the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other religion. This was recently proven when Dutch pranksters read aloud passages of the Bible but told onlookers it was the Quran. People were mystified that the Bible would have such intolerant language. But even more telling was the exchange between Chris Hayes on MSNBC and Representative Steven King From Iowa.
In the bit, Hayes tries to convince King to compare the attack in San Bernardino and the recent attack of a Planned Parenthood by a professed right-wing Christian. King was not understanding the comparison. Instead he continually reiterated that the Bible didn’t teach violence. But this is the very point. That violent extremism isn’t done by people with an orthodox understanding of religion. The perpetrator in Colorado was not more in line with the teachings of Christianity than the perpetrators in San Bernardino were in line with the teachings of Islam. At times King even tried to pivot to the work that Planned Parenthood does; implying that the work Planned Parenthood does invited the attack Sounds to me a bit too much like justifying extremism of one kind while disparaging extremism of another kind.
Curious, isn’t that religious motives of these extremists are so frequently tied to their political goals? The shooter in Colorado was an anti-abortion zealot who used religion to justify his violence; violence he hoped would cause a political and social change regarding an issue of political and policy contention. This is no different from the San Bernardino shooters.
What we must do is stop attacking a religious minority. Stop persecuting a people in a land founded on religious liberty because we are too ignorant to learn about their religion and their customs. We cannot put ourselves in their shoes and therefore they become easy to persecute. Violence in the name of religion—any religion— is anathema to the teachings of most religions. In fact, these acts are not about religion at all, but about a political goal that is intended by the perpetrator. Whether or not this is an attack on the West, an attack on abortion or anything else we must be clear: these attackers have a political motive. Theirs is a political act of violence cloaked in the garb of religion and this action is not exclusive to any one religion. We must stamp out all extremism if we are to make our world a better and more peaceful place.
MSNBC interview with Rep. Kimg