Prejudice and Political Correctness

Another terrorist bombing took place in Europe this week, with 34 dead in Brussels including several Americans. Since this is a political year, before the horror even wore off there were pronouncements that somehow this was the result of the weak foreign policy of the present administration, and somehow the party in power in the United States was responsible for the lack of preparedness in Belgium and for the murderers’ attack. What we need to do, some said, is immediately to step up police patrols not only in Europe but also here in the United States, focusing on “Muslim neighborhoods.” It’s the Muslims, some said, who are responsible for all this – for “Radical Islamic Terrorism” targeting Western democracies such as ours. Our own administration is afraid, some said, even to utter those words. We refuse to recognize that Islam from its very start fourteen hundred years ago has waged a global war for world domination.

There is indeed ongoing global terrorism. Only a false sense of political correctness, “they” say, is preventing us from speaking out loud the hidden (and more and more frequently, not so hidden) message: Muslims are not like us. The 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide including the 3.5 million in North America must all be considered suspects and, at a minimum, watched and watched closely. What we don’t see is this. In addition to the 34 dead in Brussels, this past week there were bombings in Iraq, with 54 killed; in Yemen, 26 killed; and in Pakistan, 65 killed. Those are not European countries, and the dead were mostly Muslim (although some of the intended victims were Christians), so we don’t see them other than as a footnote on American TV. Asian victims are not as newsworthy as Europeans.

That’s what “they” say, but “they” are wrong. There is indeed a cult within Islam that grew out of the chaos of our invasion of Iraq and the civil war in Syria, originally just Al Qaeda but now including the “Islamic State” known as ISIS or ISIL. By far the largest number of victims of ISIS and Al Qaeda are Muslims, and Muslims worldwide know that. The vast majority who practice Islam are our natural allies in the effort to track down and eliminate these murderous sects. Al Qaeda and ISIS most emphatically do not represent Islam, and in particular they do not represent the millions of Muslims here in America.

Using phrases like “Radical Islamic Terrorism” may be factually correct, but it leads listeners to begin painting all Muslims with that same brush. We should be talking about “Murderous Middle Eastern Sects” and focus not on the basic religion of Islam, but the offshoot whose violence threatens Muslims worldwide. And, oh yes, it threatens Western nations such as Belgium and the United States, too.

We don’t need to go down that road now. Here in the South, we know all too well where it leads. We have seen criminals identified first by their race and then by their crime, as if one caused the other. It is all too easy to paint a minority, racial or religious, with that brush, and the demographics of our prison population show what happens next. This time, let us focus on fighting the criminals, identifying killers as murderers rather than by their religion and their associates as accomplices. Let us help all of those who are fleeing the murderers, and with the help of the vast majority of Muslims worldwide fight those whom they are fleeing. We need to pull together to fight this sect, this scourge, whether known as ISIS or ISIL or Al Qaeda. But in doing so, let us not make the mistakes of our own past. This time, let us call “a lack of Political Correctness” in talking about “Radical Islamic Terrorism” what it really is: Prejudice.

Robert Scott