The familiar refrain of the Right goes something like this: “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” It’s become ubiquitous enough that you can find it on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
A more intellectualized version of that is found in a recent Wall Street Journal column, by a member of that paper’s editorial board. Quote:
“The mayor’s comments, so bizarre in their determined denial of the deluge of facts delivered by top police officials standing next to him, were, nonetheless, familiar enough. Americans have learned to expect, after every Islamist terror attack, lectures instructing them that such assaults should in no way be connected to Islamic faith of any kind.”
The writer was talking about the attack on a Philadelphia police officer by a self-identified Muslim – and the reaction of Philadelphia’s mayor who (like many other politicians before and since) stressed that Islam didn’t have anything to do with the attack. “This was a criminal with a stolen gun,” said the mayor, which was true.
But the writer at the Wall Street Journal wasn’t buying any of that. To her, the shooting was an expression of the Muslim faith.
Now, if the writer was being fair, she would have acknowledged that there is a good reason for what Philadelphia’s mayor had to say: attributing every act of terror to an entire religion simply (a) angers and alienates adherents of that religion, the overwhelmingly majority of whom are obviously not terrorists and (b) drives some of those angry and alienated adherents into the arms of ISIS and al-Qaeda and the like, who are delighted that conservative xenophobes have volunteered to do their recruitment for them. Gratis.
It isn’t just the Wall Street Journal that is doing the bidding of extremists. It’s happening locally, too, albeit far less subtly.
In Toronto, a tabloid-style paper is delivered to tens of thousands of homes by Canada Post. It is called Your Ward News. For months, the paper – edited, as it is, by a defrocked doctor who has pleaded guilty to sexual assaults – has vilified Jews. In its most-recent edition, the paper writes that Jews “spread many lies about Adolf Hitler. The most common is that six million Jews were gassed . . . in reality, there were no gas chambers.”
The paper goes on to describe its involvements with a notorious neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier, and its desire to drive out foreigners, whom it calls “parasites.” The paper loudly proclaims its devotion to Jesus Christ on virtually every page.
You could wonder why the Trudeau government is permitting Canada Post to distribute a Holocaust-denying hate sheet – I’ve certainly wondered the same thing myself. But that, for the purposes of this opinion column, isn’t the point.
The point is this, and it is self-evident: every major religion always has within its ranks a few extremists or lunatics who will always pervert its scriptures to hateful and murderous ends. No exceptions.
I should know, I guess. I wrote two entire books about the subject. In one of them, Web of Hate, I chronicled the crimes of a gang of terrorists who pulled off the biggest armed robbery in U.S. history; who carried out multiple assassinations and bombings; who inspired the single biggest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history – the murder of nearly 170 men, women and children in Oklahoma City in 1994.
All of the members of that group, called The Order, belonged to a religion. It called itself Christian Identity.
After each of The Order’s crimes in the mid-1980s – and there were many – no newspaper editorialists called on all Christians to condemn Christian Identity. No politicians warned against the perils associated with admitting Christian refugees to America. No Christian babies were placed on no-fly lists because their name happened to be similar to someone else’s. No aspiring presidential candidates demanded that a wall be erected to prevent Christians from getting into North America.
The bottom line is that every religion has its extremists. Every religion has its killers. Those of us who are Christians have ours, and the Muslims do, too.
All of this seems blindingly obvious to most people, of course. Most people are sensible and fair, and know that unfair generalizations almost always lead to trouble. All of this is common sense.
Unless they happen to write editorials for the Wall Street Journal or Your Ward News, that is.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.