BY TRONE DOWD
Last Friday, France saw one of the most devastating acts of terrorism to take place outside of the Middle East since Sept. 11. At least 129 people lost their lives in the five coordinated attacks perpetrated by Islamic extremists, while more than 350 individuals were injured or said to be in critical condition.
It was a horrifying reminder that the ongoing struggle against violence and terror is not quite over regardless of the staggering amount of years our armed forces have spent in the Middle East. In fact, efforts to fight threats like ISIS on a global scale is ramping up as President Barack Obama plans to meet with other world leaders in figuring out a plan to chase down those responsible.
But among the immediate rush of condolences and solidarity from individuals, institution and countries from around the world, misguided messages of hate also flooded in.
“How’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now? How about that mass migration into Europe?” Republican South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan said on Twitter. “Oh now France closes it’s borders,” actor Rob Lowe tweeted shortly after the attacks last week. Former Arkansas Governor and current Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee seemingly went the extra mile to offend as many people as possible by saying, “it’s time to wake up and smell the falafel. Something isn’t going right in this open immigration policy, we are importing terrorism.”
The European hate is misplaced, but it comes from a place of hurt. We should be given a period to grieve and unfortunately at times, it manifests itself in ways that are hurtful to others. It’s not as if America isn’t guilty of the same. Post-Sept. 11 America was one of the most racially insensitive time periods in our country’s history if you even vaguely looked like you were from a certain part of the world. Here’s to hoping that those deeply affected by last Friday’s atrocities soon overcome these hateful and often times inaccurate accusations.
But here in the states, particularly in the New York City area, we should know better. We should know that the individuals that committed these horrendous acts have absolutely nothing to do with the actual Muslim beliefs and traditions.
The very idea of judging an entire group of people based on one subsector of a group is lazy. It’s almost cliché to point it out as lazy. It isn’t appropriate when it comes to the black community or the Hispanic community. It isn’t appropriate when talking about the Black Lives Matter movement and it isn’t true about whites in the community.
So why in turn do some think it’s okay to condemn an entire religion of 1.6 billion, a number which often times includes other religions entirely different that carry “similar” traditions according to those who don’t bother to research the group, for the actions of a minority?
The term Muslim extremist has become a blanket term for anyone practicing the religion, especially those overseas. Entire states are fearful of those trying their best to flee situations like the Paris terror attacks based solely on the idea that they believe in the same God the Islamic State claims to worship.
We have extremists of our own here in America. The KKK are extremists and practicing Christians, responsible for taking the lives of nine black Christians in June and countless others throughout American history. The Westboro Baptist Church, who regularly protests the sacred and heartbreaking funerals of U.S. soldiers who died in combat condemning them and their families to hell, are extremists in their own way.
Practicing Muslims should not have to go out of their way to separate themselves from these extremist groups or apologize on behalf of the Islamic State actions. We should define the word extremist and what it represents: A minority. In fact, many of them are just as passionate about extinguishing this threat once and for all. The Islamic religion is a God-fearing and well-meaning group of people that often times have more in common with religions practiced around the world than most people give it credit for.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly.