This post was written as a comment on this story about NPR firing Juan Williams for saying he’s afraid of Muslims.
Why are Americans having such trouble regarding the Muslim religion?Understandably, after the World Trade centre bombings, Americans were justifiably very frightened. The terrorists whose violent ideology led them to murder nearly 3000 Americans set in motion a deep-seated fear and strong rejection of violent Muslim extremism that continues to this day across America. The problem we are facing now can be found in the phrase used in the preceding sentence: “violent Muslim extremism.” No one denies that there are violent Muslim extremists who want to destroy America. But as soon as that label is used, the claim is made that it is an attempt to label all Muslims as violent extremists.
The confusion of that phrase is caused by Americans’ fear and anger at a simple fact: the overall population of Muslims in America has not issued a loud, public, ongoing denunciation and rejection of violent Muslim extremism.
Imagine if there were an extremist sect of Christians or Jews or Buddhists who continually committed violent acts based upon an ideology that told them it was justifiable and even righteous to set off bombs in public places or to torture or behead disbelievers. There would be an immediate and ongoing outcry by mainstream members of the Christian or Jewish or Buddhist populations across America. From every pulpit and from every news media, there would be endless calls for marches and demonstrations demanding that the violence should be stopped and punished.
Unfortunately, the overall Muslim community in America has not been moved to issue such a sustained outcry. There have been sporadic expressions of criticism from Muslim Americans against the Muslim extremists, But if you were to ask most non-Muslim Americans whether there has been an ongoing vehement public rejection from Muslims in America against the violent ideology of Muslim extremism, the answer you almost certainly would get is that there has not been.
To most non-Muslim Americans, the perception is that the overall Muslim community in America has remained virtually silent about the Muslim extremists. The vast majority of peace-loving American Muslims inwardly may reject Muslim extremism. But what causes non-Muslim Americans to suspect and fear and be prejudiced against the Muslim community is the perception that because that larger community has not loudly denounced the violent extremist ideology, Muslim Americans somehow may be sympathetic towards it. To dispel this long-standing doubt and simmering distrust toward Muslims in America, the greater population of peace-loving Muslims needs to give voice to a sustained public denunciation that expresses their outrage toward violent Muslim extremism. Unless and until that happens, it is very likely that there will continue to be confusion about the use of the phrase, “violent Muslim extremists.”
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