Local Vocal: Islam’s followers are not a lump sum
Dear Mr. Clarey,
I am writing today in the hope of gaining your assistance in easing the level of tension between Muslims and ‘the West.’ People with whom I have been conversing (some of whom you may hear from) and I are of the belief that media coverage of ‘the War on Terror’ and terrorist acts are inadvertently, partially to blame for the current tension.
Many in the west live in communities that do not have a large Muslim community. As a result they hear little to nothing about Muslims or Islam apart from what they see on the news, and for obvious reasons the War on Terror has dominated news coverage. I believe that continually linking the terms Muslim, Islam, and Arabic with words like terror, extremist, and fundamentalist leads somewhat subconsciously to an ingrained belief that all Muslims and Arabs are terrorists and extremists and leads to further distrust, misunderstanding and in some cases even violence.
This, in turn, will inevitably lead to further distrust by Muslims of non-Muslims. As such I am asking that you change your personal writing style, and that your organization change their editorial policy to reduce this problem.
I know, having had this conversation with people, that you may believe that because the members of groups like al Qaida are Muslim that it makes it accurate to label them ‘“Islamic Terrorists’” or ‘“Islamic Fundamentalists. However, if you ask most Muslims whether al Qaida represents them most would likely say no.
Further, there is a bit of a double standard here as I don’t recall ever hearing the IRA referred to as Catholic Terrorists, or the KKK as Christian Extremists, although according to the logic used in relation to the ‘War on Terror’ both would be appropriate terms. In fact, if there were a religious designation used in each and every crime; ‘“Baptist robs convenience store,’” ‘“Mormon kills 2 in Utah,’” ‘“Presbyterian kills woman in drunk driving accident,’” I don’t think you’ll deny that religious intolerance would hit new heights.
Al Qaida is certainly criminal in its actions; call them a ‘“criminal organization,’” call them ‘“murderers,’” call them a ‘“Terrorist Organization’” but do not do them the favor of giving them a religion to hide behind at the expense of innocent members of that faith.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Local vocal is a guest column that runs periodically in YES! Weekly. The author’s opinions are their own and not necessarily those of YES! Weekly. To comment e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.