If you have a Facebook account, chances are that you’re seeing all sorts of symbolic gestures from friends, friends of friends, etc., regarding the Orlando terrorist attack at a gay nightclub.
I know at least some of these folks truly mean well, even as I know others are just looking to go with the crowd in their gesture-making. Still, I think I’m more put out with those that actually are engaging in these gestures with great sincerity, because it speaks to either a pronounced misguidedness, or a very troubling unwillingness on their part to see the real enemy at our doorstep…both of which are, ultimately, dangerous to not just them, but to all of the rest of us, as well.
For example, many have been quick to guide the narrative of the motive for the attack away from radical Islamist ideals, and toward homophobia, more singularly. There is ample evidence…indeed, so much of it, that to suggest otherwise is silly…that Omar Mateen was motivated by radical Islam as much, or more, than he was motivated by his hatred of homosexuals. In the case of Mateen, I do not know if his homophobia was informed directly by his clear embrace of radical Islam. However, radical Islam’s enthusiastic embrace of the worst, most extreme examples of homophobia affords me the privilege of seeing this as a distinction without a difference; violent expressions of homophobia are an inherent part of radical Islam.
Moving on…just as many of these people are clearly uncomfortable with calling out radical Islam, they are quick to point me to pictures of friends, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds of members of the Muslim faith who have condemned the attack, are giving blood for the benefit of the victims, etc. That’s very nice, but the implication is lost on me, because I’ve never seen followers of Islam and followers of radical Islam as the same people. While I don’t happen to have any close friends of the Muslim faith in my life at present, I have had several in the past, and particularly during my years in college as well as in the military. Radical Islam has not prompted me to alter my visions or remembrances of them. I don’t see them now as being any worse because of the behavior of radical Islamists…because the way in which they prosecute their faith has nothing in common with radical Islam. In other words, condemning radical Islam need not be the same thing as condemning Islam – it is quite possible to do one without doing the other.
Also wearisome are the breathless attempts by so many to compare other “mainstream” religions to radical Islam, in a way that suggests they’re “just as bad,” or some such nonsense. I was listening yesterday to some talking head on a cable news show speak about Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber. The panelist reminded us that among the attacks he perpetrated before he was caught…was the bombing of an Atlanta lesbian bar in 1997. Rudolph was an adherent of Christian Identity, itself a twisted version of Christianity, and you know where the talking head’s implication went from there - Christians are just as evil as radical Islamists.
No question, Eric Rudolph was a bad guy, and, yes, he cloaked himself in his ideas of Christianity as a way to try to justify his nefarious deeds. Problem is, Eric Rudolph was not part of an organized, active, global insurgency that sought, as an endstate, to install a bastardized, hyper-orthodox version of Christian rule over the entire world. So, for those trying to make these comparisons, because their personal discomfort in calling things as they really are when it comes to radical Islam is just too discomforting….just stop; the illogic is so great that you’re all embarrassing yourselves to such a degree that it’s making the rest of us uncomfortable.
Another reaction prompting my head to want to explode are the calls to “answer hate with love,” that sort of thing. While it’s a charming notion, and while I don’t doubt the sincerity of maybe a few of the people I’ve seen espouse that idea, I accuse many of those folks of intellectual dishonesty, at best, and even cowardice. Unless they have lost complete touch with reality, they know that radical Islamists don’t care that you love them…although you are welcome to let them know that as they set to beheading you, and see if it changes their mind. I think we know the answer to that.
Like the saying goes…you can’t coexist with people who want to kill you. It really is that simple.
The overriding problem that results from the totality of these progressive reactions and notions is that society is ultimately made less safe for us all. By walking around with their heads in the sand, either from naïvete or cowardice, the people behind these ideas end up refraining from assuming the physical, mental, and psychological postures that are required from the vast majority of us to build and maintain a secure nation.
If you really want to make a difference, start by recognizing the enemy; see it for what it is. You can recognize the threat from radical Islam, see the evil that is personified by it, without diminishing your compassion, your regard, for anyone else, including other Muslims.
From there, take an interest in safety…your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. Remember that Omar Mateen was able to carve such a large, deadly swath of violence in such a short period of time because there were no “good guys” carrying guns where he was. He was, of course, in a gun-free zone…gun-free, that is, except for the ones he was carrying.
If you are already of this mindset, great. Now, engage those in your circle in the discussion. Social media can make this easy, because, if you’re like me, you have associations with people, like “Facebook friends,” who may not see the world quite as you do. Take advantage of conversation threads they start to chime in and, without hostility, suggest why their more progressive views of what took place may not be accurate, or may not tell the whole story.
However you can do it, do it. We all have a lot at stake here, and every day that too many of our own citizens wake up unwilling to see that we are at war with a terribly dangerous enemy…is one more day spent moving closer to eventual defeat.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large