Tuesday’s editorial pleads for a little more restraint when it comes to our anger at the violence against our interests in the Middle East:
In the wake of last week’s violent protests in the Middle East, including one that left four U.S. Embassy workers dead in Libya, many in our area have been understandably incensed. The brutal actions were reprehensible and deserve swift and unerring justice. But while justifiably enraged at these indefensible attacks, some have unfortunately quickly turned the blame on the entire Islamic faith or Arab race.
One letter to the editor called for immediate revenge and urged U.S. leaders to evacuate embassies in the Middle East, then “bomb the empty buildings out of existence, hopefully while the buildings are occupied with mobs of Arabs.”
Commenters on The Sun News’ website blamed Muslims for “bringing chaos to every corner of the world,” called Islam “a religion of violence” and equated all members of the faith with terrorists.
S.C. Rep. Tommy Stringer wrote on Twitter about the “Islamic hatred of our freedom.”
But we must be clear-eyed about who is to blame. Those who turned to violence, those who attacked our installations and took American lives, are a small minority of the 2 billion Muslims in the world, most of whom are rightfully outraged at the violent actions of those who share their faith.
To take the actions and views of the most radical members of a faith and use them to tar the entire group is illogical folly. Islamic extremists are just that, extremists. The actions taken by these fringe fanatics in the name of their faith have been horrific, sickening and unpardonable. But they have been no more horrendous than actions taken by extremists of other faiths. Christian fanatics have blown up abortion clinics, murdered in the name of their faith, committed acts of terrorism to promote their warped agenda. And yet we rightfully do not judge the majority by the actions of a few.
After Eric Rudolph set off a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics, we did not rail against Christianity. When a mass shooting in Norway was perpetrated last year by a self-styled “Christian crusader,” we did not call for churches to be bombed in retaliation. Though the Ku Klux Klan continues to cloak its hate in a Christian mantle, we do not imagine all Christians to be ignorant racists. To do otherwise would be unfair to the billions of Christians who do not adhere to such extreme and violent beliefs. The same logic applies to Islam. Islamic extremists do not equal Islam, any more than Christian extremists equal Christianity.
What’s one solution? More knowledge. Surveys indicate that those who actually know someone who practices Islam are less likely to be prejudiced against the group.
Here on the Grand Strand, the Muslim population is not large (the most recent 2010 survey estimated about 1 in 1,000 people in Horry County were Muslim), but it certainly does exist. These are our neighbors and co-workers, the people we see at the grocery store and those who help elect our leaders, not agents of some global conspiracy of violence. Try getting to know some of them. Stop by a meeting of the Grand Strand Islamic Society. You just might be surprised to find out they’re not that much different than the rest of us.