In The Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring
This first appeared in The Muslim Observer
I can almost guarantee that most, if not all, Muslims across the country held their collective breath in the hours before the gunman in the horrific UCC shooting was formally announced as Chris Harper-Mercer. I can almost guarantee that there was universal fear that the gunman would turn out to be Muslim. I know I had that fear, as did members of my family.
Yet, why is this so? Why should the American Muslim community have to fear whenever anyone who is Muslim or identified with being a Muslim commits a crime in America? It is because logic goes out the window when it comes to Muslims and Islam.
The fact that the Oregon shooter Chris Harper-Mercer was a white male who disliked organized religion would never cause people to call for all white males, or all those who dislike religion, to be profiled and otherwise scrutinized. No one would dare suggest scrutinizing all legal gun owners simply because Harper-Mercer was also a legal gun owner. Yet, had he been Muslim, there would have been loud howls for Muslims to be profiled, scrutinized, or worse.
When a police officer is killed in an ambush-style attack, there are some who want to blame the Black Lives Matter movement for such an attack, with vociferous (and rightful) objections to such associations. When a police officer is accused or convicted of misconduct, police officers nationwide insist that the few bad apples should never tarnish the reputation of police officers in general, who risk their lives to protect the public. I agree wholeheartedly with this point.
Earlier this year, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin of Florida wrote “Don’t blame ‘pious Jews’” for the attacks on Shira Banki and Ali Saad Dawabsheh in Israel and the West Bank. He’s absolutely right. And I am on record saying that people should never smear every Catholic priest with the sins of the very few who have sexually abused children in the past.
Yet, when it comes to Muslims, such logic is completely discarded. Whenever any Muslim does anything wrong anywhere the world, Islam itself is to blame. All across social media are tweets and posts such as, “Muslim father kills daughter…” or “Muslim fighter beheads Christian…” and the like. And immediately, all Muslims are smeared; all Muslims have to bear the burden of the sins of criminals.
No politician would dare say Christianity or Judaism is “not consistent with the Constitution.” Yet, Dr. Ben Carson said Islam is just that, and his Party’s base seemed to reward him for it. Again, and again, and again, the logic of smearing the whole with the sins of the few applies to no other group…except Muslims.
Yet, beyond just fallacious logic, such associations of Islam and Muslims with only the crimes committed in their name has real-life implications for innocent, everyday Muslim citizens. There have been attacks on mosques and individual Muslims. Even non-Muslims – who simply “look Muslim” – are not spared from hate. American Muslim parents have to pause and wonder whether or not they should name their children with overtly Muslim names. And now, the latest fad is having armed “patriots” protesting against and insulting Islam and Muslims at mosques across the country.
All this because many, too many, associate the sins of a few Muslims somewhere with every Muslim everywhere. This logic makes absolutely no sense, and this double standard has to be called out every single time. The sins of the few can never be used to smear the whole. This is true when it comes to while males, and police officers, and Catholic priests, and anyone else. And it is also true when it comes to Muslims as well.