NOTE: This was originally posted on Gather.com on May 28th. I'm just crossposting it here, now that I've replaced my old PC, which couldn't sign on to Blogger.
I watch Tavis Smiley almost every night, and am a fan, though I disagree with his political views completely. One of the reasons I am such a fan is because he gives a great insight into himself in every interview. He asks questions that his viewers want the answers to, and usually manages his time well. I also love to disagree with the premises of his questions, and occasionally write about it. Agree or disagree, ya gotta love a person who makes you think!
Tavis had an interesting exchange with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on his PBS program Tuesday night. They were discussing Islamist terrorism, and she mentioned the Fort Hood shooting and the Times Square bombing. Tavis replied that Christians in America kill people every day, citing Columbine and "post office" shootings, asking why she doesn't hold Christianity accountable in the same way. I'll look for a transcript, but that was the gist of it. I had to make a quick note for myself, when she didn't get a chance to answer that question fully, and also to pose some questions of my own to Tavis.
The obvious answer is that few mass shootings are actually motivated by Christianity, though the shooters may be Christians. Besides the rash of "post office" shootings in decades past, college campuses have been frequent targets, as well as some shopping malls. No Christian group claimed credit for any of these. Then there's Columbine, where, as Tavis should know, the killers targeted Christians. It's doubtful that any of the people involved in the various "mass shootings" over the last few decades could all be tied together in any way, including religious belief, other than one group, who all followed the same radical version of Islam.
Yes, there are dangerous groups in our country, most of which are secular left wing groups like ALF and ELF, as well as the radical Anarchists, Socialists, Comminists/Marxists who vandalize every WTO meeting or GOP convention. Some other, much smaller groups follow a corrupt version of Christianity. The difference is that 99.99...% of American Christians oppose them (even in the GOP), and would gladly help apprehend any person they knew was going to do something crazy. The better point to make is that perhaps most Muslims don't know people involved in Islamist terrorism, which would be similar for Christians not knowing "Christian terrorists," accepting Tavis' definition of that as mass murderers who are Christians.
In fact, though he mentioned that Ms. Ali is an Atheist, he neglected the role of Atheism in so many Americam mass-murders, including Columbine. I would refer Tavis to the book "She Said Yes," by the parents of a girl killed at Columbine. One of the killers put a gun to her head and asked her if she believed in God, and shot her when she said yes. I'll put her up as a Christian martyr against every suicide bomber ever, and she wins every time. She was killed by an Atheist, not an Islamist or Christian terrorist, Tavis. Sometimes murder and suicide is it's own end, regardless of how a person rationalizes it within their own beliefs. Right now, the Atheists aren't a global terrorist threat, and neither are Christians.
No Christian elected leader in the world is calling for the Ten Commandments to become law, in any country, while Sharia is enforced to various degrees in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other nations around the globe. In the US, Christians fight in the court system to preserve our national Christian historical heritage, trying just to allow images of the Ten Commandments on "government" property. There really is no political comparison to be made between Christianity, which has lost power to secular politics in the west, and Islam, which still thrives politically in much of the world. That's where the terrorism component comes in.
There is a common thread to the mass-murderers that have been Muslims. Many of them have been to the Waziristan region of Pakistan, or been in contact with people who have been there. That's Al Quaeda's training ground/headquarters, where 9/11 was plotted. If all of the domestic "Christian" mass murderers had spent time at some similarly remote "religious retreat" in the US, I think it would have been noted by our domestic media, if not our domestic law enforcement. Yet here we are, almost ten years after 9/11, and Tavis Smiley is asking a target of Islamist terrorism why she doesn't equate Islam with Christianity, regarding terrorism.
To Ms. Ali's credit, she pointed out to Tavis that a recent South Park episode offended Christian and Bhuddists much worse than Muslims, but only recieved threats over the "non-displaying" of Muhammed's image. That she didn't have time for a deeper rebuttal of his question is one of the reasons I wrote this column. Faisal Shazaad's bomb in Times Square was parked very close to Comedy Central's headquarters.Let's see how soon they "joke" about Mohammed again, Tavis.
This time, I think he wandered into fantasyland, with the broad assertion he made about killings being done "every day" in the name of Christianity. If anything, many mass shootings by Muslims slip under the media's radar, and have for years. Besides the "honor killings," which get prosecuted under criminal law, there are the occasional larger incidents: the shootings on the observation deck of the Empire State Building by a "radicalized" Muslim; the murder of Jewish children in a van on 59th St. Bridge by a "radicalized" Muslim, the El Al (Israeli) airline counter shooting in Los Angeles by a "radicalized" Muslim. All of these were handled in the criminal courts, as well. Is there a signifigant enough legal record of "radicalized" Muslims committing mass murders to justify calling it a "pattern?"
Let's not forget the DC snipers, and how everyone was shocked that it wasn't some bitter White guys, because that was the "profile" for such a killer, previously. Even after the Times Square bombing, the media ran video of some White guy changing his shirt, and Mayor Bloomberg said it was probably a "heath care opponent." One liberal columnist admitted thinking "please, don't let it be a Muslim." Tavis' "moral equivalence" is of a piece with this theme, seeking to minimize, if not dismiss the influence of Islamist fanaticism in these murders.
I had a personal experience with a Christian who terrorized my family, as a child, at the same time I was attending a Catholic school. You can read about it here, but suffice to say that when a Christian says "the Lord told me to kill you," that's not the same Lord I worship, and that person isn't being a Christian. This is probably how many Muslims feel about terrorism, and that may have been the angle that Tavis was trying to come from with his question. My speculation notwithstanding, I would really like to know exactly what he meant in the premise of the question he asked Ms. Ali.