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Weighing the choices

The sniper seems to have been caught, which is great news. Not so great news: he recently changed his last name to Muhammad, and reportedly converted to Islam some years ago. Inevitably, some people are rushing to point out how dangerous those Muslims are.

I thought about it. In the last ten years, if we look at domestic terrorism, the score is American Christians 2 and American Muslims 1. Kaczynski and McVeigh beat Muhammad. Clearly — very clearly — Christians are bad news and very dangerous.

You heard it here first. Muslims make better Americans.

The danger is that we’ll ignore the real cognate, which is terrorism and membership in Al Qaeda. The latter happens to have a prerequisite. You need to be Muslim. That doesn’t speak to the terroristic tendencies of Muslims; it speaks to the prejudices of Osama bin Laden. He was in a position to leverage his hatred, but that says nothing about the likelihood that the Muslim on the street will be a terrorist.

It is dangerous (I’m tempted to say treasonous, but that would be wrong) to sweep all this under the generic rug of “Islamic terrorism.” There’s no such thing as Islamic terrorism, just as there’s no such thing as a black quarterback or a woman rock star. There are quarterbacks who happen to be black, there are rock stars who happen to be female, and there are terrorists who happen to be Islamic. None of those adjectives have a material effect on the nature of what they do.


  1. (t.rev) (t.rev)

    Garrett. Dude. I am SO DISAPPOINTED in you.

    Kaczynski is a luddite anarchist, and McVeigh
    was a proud and outspoken atheist.

  2. Bryant Bryant

    Gnargh. Shame on me. I was too eager to make the point. Although interesting that the atheism of McVeigh never registered on my media knowledge… was I just oblivious?

  3. It’s odd that you choose to compare the sniper to Kaczinski and McVeigh, rather than serial killers. Of course I recognize that these killings may have been motivated by a terroristic intent, but in terms of execution, they certainly don’t look like terrorism – they look like old-fashioned American mass murder. I’m not sure where the line is drawn, honestly, but I find it interesting that the motives and beliefs of terrorists are closely examined, while the motives and beliefs of those classified as ‘mass murderers’ are generally dismissed as chemical imbalances.

  4. Bryant Bryant

    I am granting the possibility that the events were triggered by Muhammad’s sympathy with Al Qaeda. I don’t think that’s been proven, and my personal ungrounded suspicion is that he’d have been triggered by something eventually… but I don’t have any grounds on which to make that argument, and I think it’s important to address the “Islamic terrorist” issue.

  5. kit kit

    T.Rev! My God! You live!

    Which was so not what I was going to say.

    Actually, what I was going to say is, I can’t believe you used ‘leverage’ in a serious sentence like that, Bryant.

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