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Moderates Need Not Denounce Extremists

Updated on March 17, 2015

Remember when CNN called for all “moderate” white people denounce the Sandy Hook shooter? Remember when CNN called for all “moderate” conservatives to denounce Cliven Bundy after the Bundy Ranchers began pointing guns at federal agents? Remember when CNN called for all “moderate” Christians to denounce Anders Breivik after his massacre? Me neither. So why, tell me, did I hear a CNN host ask if it was, “time for moderate Muslims to denounce the extremists” on the morning after the Charlie Hebdo murders?

To be fair, CNN wasn’t the only channel that did it. I just happened to be watching them that morning as I attempted to hold down my breakfast through the truly unsettling Islamophobia. Fox News, of course, got in their fair share religious hate talk, having on guests like Jonah Goldberg to complain that “political correctness” is bad because it hinders our blaming of every single Muslim in the world for the acts of the few. But I do not which to parse through every specific instance of Islamophobia. Rather, the point is that there is a clear trend in the media to blame all of Islam for any crime that any Muslim commits. Now, to be clear, I have many problems with all religions and think that there are plenty of fair criticisms to go around. The problem arises when we choose to implement a double standard for Muslims.

Question

Did the media do a satisfactory job covering the Charlie Hebdo story?

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Age of the Machine

Leon wakes up in a land about which he knows nothing. His only guide is a person about whom he knows even less. Quickly finding himself involved in the politics of this new universe, Leon's main concern remains simply getting home. However, things change, and Leon soon finds that returning home is anything but simple. If Leon is going to get back to his universe, he'll have to first discover the truth about this one. But he'll have to hurry: lies are in high supply, time is not.

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Age of the Machine: Leon (Volume 2)

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Bill Maher, Sam Harris, and Ben Affleck

I must confess, I've never actually watched Bill Maher's show. However, I knew he was a liberal, and was pretty sure that he was a "good guy." That was until I saw his segment on Islam with Sam Harris and Ben Affleck. Bill Maher revealed himself to e not an intellectual, but a simple Islamaphobe. He called Islam the bastion of all bad ideas. Even if this wasn't clearly islamaphobic on its face, it's imply not true. It ignores all historical context.

Were the crusades a good idea? Was the holocaust a good idea? Was the Iraq war a good idea? These were all things done in the name of Christianity (Yes, remember when Bush literally said god told him to go to war in Iraq? Seems a little blasphemous that god could make such a grandiose mistake, but Bush wasn't Muslim, so let's ignore that). Indeed, all religions contain more than their fair share of dumb ideas. Islam is not better or worse.

I suppose one could argue that a religion like Mormonism is inherently bad, since racism is literally one of its main tenants. However, in the end, it's not Mormonism, but the people who consciously choose to follow it. Same for all people who claim to act in the name of religion. It's not literally the religion that has caused them to act in such a way, but rather, they are simply using religion as a cover for behaving the way they do.

It was surprising to me that ideas as simply as this eluded Bill Maher. Of course, they didn't really elude him, since Ben Affleck more-or-less spelled all of what I'm saying out. Rather, Bill Maher simply could not get over his pre-conceived biases. What's most dangerous about Bill Maher however, is that he is thought of as a liberal. When Bill O'Reilley comes out and reveals himself to be Islamaphobic on an almost nightly basis, sure it's deplorable, but no one is fooled. The people who are already Islamaphobic watch and have their views reinforced, but he doesn't bring in any new people. Bill Maher, however, has the opportunity to appear correct to audience that would otherwise be on the right side. Like I said at the beginning of this aside, I knew BIll Maher was a liberal, but I didn't really know much about him. Some one in my same position who followed things less closely, might then look and think, "Well, if Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilley agree, then it must be true." Of course, the truth is they're both wrong. Yet another reason why one must always think for oneself.

An act of terrorism is an act of terrorism. It should not matter who commits it, or for what cause. In fact, a report from April of 2014 showed that right wing terrorists accounted for 34 deaths in the U.S. since 9/11, as opposed to Islamic terrorists, who had accounted for only 21 deaths at that time. I bring that up not to make this “political,” but only to debunk the argument I hear that goes something along the lines of “Muslims should be treated differently, since all the terrorists are Muslims.” This is clearly untrue, yet (and, admittedly, this is anecdotal) I know many people who tell me that all terrorists are Muslim. However, I do not blame these people for thinking that. Instead, I blame the media for failing to report these stories properly.

Terrorism is such a loose term. Could not a school shooting be an act of terrorism? Would anyone argue it wasn’t terrorism if a Muslim committed a school massacre? Yet, anytime one of these tragedies occurs, the media portrays it as a lone gunman, and someone who had psychological problems. When a Muslim shoots someone or bombs something, there seems to be no mention of psychology. Nor is there ever any hint that this is a lone act. The only thing one hears in the media is that this is yet another Muslim jihadist extremist terrorist. So, of course, some people will draw the conclusion that all terrorists are Muslim, because that’s the only time the word terrorism is ever used.

Hebdo Critics Are Missing the Point

I’m not saying that it is not okay to criticize Islam. Of course you can criticize Islam. I have criticisms of Islam. What I am saying is that any criticism of Islam is equally applicable to all religions. Extremist branches exist in Christianity, Judaism, and even Buddhism. The other side of that same coin is that any praise of religion must include Islam. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai is Muslim. Society should judge people as individuals, not as a part of a larger group. So no, CNN, it is not time for “moderate” Muslims to denounce extremists. It is clear to any person with an ounce of morality that Muslims as a whole denounce the killing of innocent people. Let us give this obvious assumption, which we give to whites Christians, to all people, our Muslim brothers and sisters included.

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I am a writer. I have substantial experience in journalism, and my passion is for creative writing. When it comes to writing, I've dabbled in everything.

I am a reader, a hockey player, a part-time musician, and an English major/Political Science minor at Canisius College.

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