So, does watching the GOP debates constitute a microaggression against American Muslims? Apparently, some think that way. On December 18, Pollster Frank Luntz had an American Muslim focus group on CBS This Morning, where Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour said that she advised Muslim parents not to watch the Republican debates in front of their children because that would subject them to “hateful stereotyping.” Kyle Drennan at Newsbusters clipped the segment:
LINDA SARSOUR: I actually did a call out to Muslim parents across the country to not watch the Republican debate in front of their children because I knew that, that – subjecting our children to hear the hateful stereotyping and the lumping of Muslims with terrorism in front of our children is actually something that psychologically impacts them. So that’s how deep this is for us.
FRANK LUNTZ: But don't you want the kids to know the challenges that they face?
SARSOUR: I don't want my children to be subjected to racism and the vilification of their faith. I will not allow Donald Trump to tell my kids how they should feel about being Muslim.
Sarsour alleged that terrorism isn’t an epidemic in the Muslim community, and she wasn’t particularly thrilled by President Obama’s call on Muslim Americans to help root out extremism within their communities.
“We would never ask any other faith community to stand up and condemn acts of violence committed by people within their groups… The fact that this is only directed at the Muslim community is something that I personally can't accept,” she said.
Nevertheless, the fact is that 9/11 wasn’t committed by the Amish. It was radical Muslims. Period. That is beyond dispute. Yet, the issue here is the fact that debates, and the American electoral process, are somehow psychologically damaging is absurd. Both parties understand that ISIS is a threat. Both parties know that radical Islam is a problem. Both parties, though with varying degrees of aggressiveness and tone, are committed to protecting America. I mean there’s not a lot of leeway for how then-Sen. John Edwards felt about al-Qaeda and their terrorist allies during the 2004 Democratic National Convention:
We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.
And we, John and I, we will have one clear unmistakable message for Al Qaida and these terrorists: You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you.
Frankly, I wish some of that were injected into President Obama, but if your issue is tone–or how you’re uncomfortable with the rhetoric–when both parties want to destroy radical Islamic extremists; you’re either aloof or promoting censorship. For goodness sakes, anyone with a scintilla of rationale knows that Donald Trump is no scholar of Islam.
Sadly, there are some folks who paint with a broad brush. All Muslims are not terrorists. That’s absolutely true, but it’s false to compare the acts of radical Islamic terrorists to those by white right-wing neo-Nazi or Christian Identity groups. They did not formulate an elaborate plan to kill Americans in New York and Washington D.C. on September 11. They may have some global plan for Aryan domination, but it’s a joke. They do not control large swaths of areas that used to be referred to as Christendom. Concerning Islam, a vicious and barbaric radical sect has done that. They’re called ISIS. There aren’t nearly as many right wing groups as there are Muslims who have been radicalized by fanatics within their religion. That number soars into the tens of millions. So, again, is it all Muslims? No. But there is certainly something going wrong that’s allowing millions of people to have positive views of the Islamic State.
ISIS remains highly unpopular, but they’ve still managed to cobble together millions who support them. And it’s here that both ISIS and right wing hate groups share one aspect: it only takes one person to commit a violent act to further a political agenda and influence (i.e. terrorize) the wider audience to achieve that aim. That’s terrorism.
For conservatives who are teetering on this blame the Muslims line, remember that liberals paint us all the time in culture and the news media. We should know better.
At the same time, avoiding watching the debates because Donald Trump is being himself... is a lame excuse. American families have many discussions about these issues, this should be one of them, especially for Muslim Americans.