In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I have noticed a growing trend in American ideology that has yet to be corrected. From time to time, I will hear people referring to this terrifying day as the, “Muslim terrorist attack”. When I hear statements like this I can only sigh in frustration.
One of the more poignant statements that I have ever heard about Islamist Extremists comes from NBC’s political drama The West Wing. In one episode, Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman is talking to a group of students about terrorism. To draw an appropriate correlation, Josh says that, “Islamic Extremists are to Islam, as the KKK is to Christianity.” Being a social studies teacher, I can safely say that this is a perfect comparison.
When we turn on the news and hear about Islamic Extremists, we are hearing about a very small radical element of a religion. This is no different then the KKK (who burned southern churches and murdered African Americans) and the Weather Underground (who bombed government buildings as a form of political protest). What is constantly lost in the shuffle is the fact that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all follow the same fundamental teachings. I won’t get into the specifics here, but search it if you want to further educate yourself.
There is always a bad apple that will spoil the whole basket. The spectrum of ideological differences means that we will always be faced with extremes ranging from organized peaceful protest to outright wholesale slaughter in the name of a belief. But let’s try to remember something important. In the United States, racism was never something that could have been applied exclusively to the South. Even if we were to do so, we would be arguing that half of our nation embraced racism. The sad truth is that this number was much greater than half just half.
I know that for a lot of people this really does not change anything. The World Trade Center is still gone and the people lost will never be coming back. It’s a high price to pay to live in a nation where religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights. But, I think that is also what makes us lucky. We have fought and died for our beliefs in Yorktown, Virginia 220 years ago, Lower Manhattan 9 years ago, and Afghanistan and Iraq this very day. If we continue to label entire groups as a single absolute evil, we will never be able to achieve a sense of true victory. Hatred breeds only more hate. Haven’t we hated long enough?