Terrorism and Religion


I hear there was a terrorist attack in Belgium yesterday. ISIS claims responsibility, so, of course, we have the whole "are Muslims terrorists?" thing back again. From there, we quickly get to requests for Muslims to condemn the attacks. I don't see these directly, but I do see two responses:
  1. Some Muslims do as requested and issue statements that basically say "Blowing up people is bad and I don't like it either." The implied message is that they are not terrorists and don't want to be associated with them. Fair enough. I wouldn't want to be associated with terrorists either.
  2. Getting annoyed at the request. The reasoning here seems to be that they disapprove, and they are offended that people don't know that without asking. Behind this lies the implied claim that only they are being asked, and thus they are being singled out as potential terrorists.
I am in two minds about the thinking here. One one hand, I can follow the reasoning. No one wants to be associated with terrorists. On the other, it seems awful thin-skinned. Personally, I hate the idea of "asking that question is offensive" in any form. For one thing, it turns conversation into a potential minefield of dangerous topics. For another, it makes people notice some things disproportionately, which leads to weird ideas about what people think. Or maybe I am just biased here. In computer programming (C++ specifically), you can make a query function const, which means that it isn't allowed to change anything. I frequently wish that English had const questions as well, so this could just be an instance of that.

On another level, however, there is a lot of wrongness here. For one thing, it isn't just Muslims who are expected to condemn terrorist attacks. All sorts of politicians are expected to as well. And celebrities. And honestly, just about anyone who gets into a conversation about terrorists. For another thing, there is an implicit assumption that these people are asking because they don't know, and when you think about it, that's an accusation in itself. I have a scientific turn of mind, so if I wanted to convince people calling Muslims terrorists is wrong, I would start by polling different groups (Muslims, Christians, atheists, etc.) about their opinions on terrorism. Then, when I had determined that terrorism support was a flat 0% across all groups, I would put the data somewhere visible. To me, this would be a relatively convincing argument, but it only works if I am allowed to ask people.

But then again, there is the whole singling people out thing. I understand that his bothers people. Being expected to do things other people don't have to is unfair. So lets try to fix this another way. As the first step:
I, Richard Hamilton, a believer in a monotheistic religion which has much in common with Islam, hereby condemn terrorism. Regardless of the problem in question, I believe that killing random civilians is the wrong way to solve it.
The second step is an open invitation for anyone else (who actually read this far) to add a comment saying that you disapprove of terrorism as well. Lets make the vast majority of Muslims who aren't terrorist feel less alone.


I got one statement of the sort requested.
I also condemn terrorism! ~ Alannah Rose

I got the following useful response:
I really don't think such a request to condemn terroriam has really that much point to it... If a similar post was made with the topic of paedophiles, or sex-slavery there would also be a resounding bunch of people that would agree too it's horrors. But if a similar article regarding abortion was written, there would be crazy amounts of people who would disagree with it, even through more infants die from abortion, than adults do from terrorists, every day if the week. But abortion in our culture is celebrated as "freedom", and is looked at with equal condemnation by the terrorists who think of birth, as an almost-holy act: who think of terrorism as an act of "freedom".

Right/wrong, as decided by a society is always flawed and wrong... Why? Because man-kind is selfish and sinful in nature. In the USA, there are more school shootings done by "Christians" than any other religious group. Do Christians get blamed, or even asked daily what they "think about that?" No! Why? Because our culture knows that Christians do not normally act in that fashion. See - when the roles are reversed, suddenly it us understandable why this is such an issue and frustrating for those "associated".

My response to this was:
  1. Re-arranging this a bit, I suspect that school shootings would fit under the definition of "terrorism", at least in the broad way the modern world likes to apply it. As such, most terrorist attacks are not done by Muslims.
  2. You are completely correct that the system is inconsistent and unfair. By this point, I just take that for granted.
  3. On the subject of Muslims, the West, terrorists and abortion: I once read something (in First Things, I think) where someone was thinking about this. He constructed a pretty good argument that, in the on-going West-Islam struggle in the Middle East, Islam was actually the good guys, on the grounds that their social systems, even with all their nasty bits, actually killed far fewer innocent people. The abortion rate in Canada peaked at about 25% around 2000, but is now down to 17%. However, I have heard that for some demographics it exceeds 50%, putting them on par with some of the most violent cultures in history.
  4. You are misunderstanding my goal here. I was trying to help make those Muslims who feel unfairly singled out feel less singled out. Analogous to those people in the Second World War who wore the Nazi-commanded Jewish wrist bands even though they weren't Jewish. I probably didn't explain myself very well. Dealing with people is hard.

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