The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Good Question. Better Answer.

The wanton murder of three Muslim young people in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this week, was at first glance, a clear case of Islamophobia—until it wasn't. The perpetrator is an atheist, a progressive, and mentally disturbed. He is a murderer who, apparently, was angered because of a parking space dispute. Crazy and tragic—yes. An indicator of anti-Muslim sentiment across the United States—no.

But the Islamophobia narrative is so strong that the MSM won't let it go. Just yesterday afternoon, CNN was quoting friends and relatives of the murdered students, suggesting that this act was anti-Muslim bias. They offered not one scintilla of evidence to back up that assertion, but no matter—the accusation fits the narrative.

Meanwhile, Mark Lamont Hill, Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College took a gentle swipe at those of us who have suggested that the mainstream Muslim response to radical Islam has been tepid at best. He tweeted: Waiting for the atheist community to condemn this awful hate crime committed at UNC Chapel Hill. Is their silence complicity?

Charles C. W. Cooke jumped into the fray and suggested that Hill had asked an excellent question that deserved an answer:
Islam draws attention in our era not because its adherents tend to be brown-skinned or because it is easier to fear those who live abroad than those who live down the street, but because it is used so frequently as the justification for attacks around the world that its critics have begun to notice a pattern. In most cases, it is reasonable to acknowledge simultaneously that representatives of every philosophy will occasionally do something evil — maybe in the name of their philosophy; maybe not — and to contend that it is silly to blame that philosophy for the individual’s behavior. As far as we know, there is no more evidence that today’s killer is representative of atheism per se than that the man who opened fire at the Family Research Council was representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center or that Scott Roeder was representative of the pro-life cause. Further, there are no evident superstructures within atheism or the SPLC or the right-to-life movement that routinely condone mass murder, and nor are there many friends of those groups who would be willing to justify or to indulge the maniacs they have attracted. It seems reasonably clear that any lunatic can appropriate a cause or provide a name as his inspiration, and that, when he does, we should neither regard that lunatic’s behavior as indicative of the whole nor worry too much about repeat attacks. As I have written before — in defense of Right and Left — words do not pull triggers.

This instinct, however, has its limitations, for it is one thing to acknowledge that one swallow does not make a summer, and quite another to insist that it is not summer when the whole flock is overhead. Individual acts should be taken as such, of course. But when the same names pop up over and over and over again it is fair for us to connect the dots. To wonder why conservatives worry about Islam specifically — and not, say, about atheism or progressivism or the Tea Party or the Westboro Baptist Church — is to ignore that Islam is so often deployed to rationalize violence around the world that it makes sense for them to ask more questions. An inquiry into the violent tendencies of contemporary atheists is likely to reach a dead end. An inquiry into modern Islam, by contrast, is not. Can anybody say with a straight face that it is irrational to wonder whether there is something inherent in present-day Islam that, at best, is attracting the crazy and the disenfranchised, and, at worst, actually requires savagery? I think not.
Good answer, although it was more than 140 characters long.