Girgenti: Love thy neighbor

R. Colin Fly

This past week the White House raised the terrorist threat level to orange, meaning there is a high risk of terrorist attacks in the near future. People were told to buy a three days’ supply of water and food, as well as plastic with which to cover over windows and doors into at least one room in their house in the event of an attack.

The explanation given for the raised threat level is that the CIA received information from credible sources that a major attack by al Qaeda on the United States is forthcoming.

What is interesting is the fact that this alert was timed to coincide with the season of the Muslim Haj, or holy pilgrimage, which all Muslims are required to make at least once in their lives.

It is almost as though the decision to increase the current threat level was based more on the fact that it is currently a holy time for Muslims than any other realistic threat. It is fair to say that most Americans are aware of the fact that the current threat coincides with the Muslim holy time because all the major media outlets drilled it into their heads. The impact, then, is to reinforce this perspective in America that all Muslims are terrorists and all terrorists are Muslims.

The only terrorist group the news ever talks about now is al Qaeda. Believe it or not, there are other terrorist groups out there that hate America just as much.

Every year there are over 500 attempts at terrorist action in and against the United States. Not all of these attempts are made by al Qaeda, or even by Muslim extremist groups. In fact, if one were to look at the federal government’s official list of terrorist groups, one would find a number of organizations that operate only in the United States.

Of course, thanks to the media portrayal of Muslims as backwards, dirty and violent, it is easy for Americans to think of Islam as a violent religion. Realistically, it is no more violent than Christianity or Judaism. Christianity gave the world the Crusades, some of the bloodiest wars ever fought in human history.

As for Judaism, according to Genesis, the Jews were told to exterminate all the Canaanites in order to claim a home for themselves in Israel. I cannot think of any similar ongoing violence or genocide committed by Muslims. In fact, although some Muslims are extremists and are supportive of terrorism, most are not.

The same cannot be said for Christians during the Crusades, most of whom seemed to think that it was a good idea to eradicate the heathens.

Admittedly, these wars fought by the Jews and the Christians happened a long time ago. That does not change the fact, however, that both religions were used to commit unspeakable acts.

Most Jews and Christians are repulsed to think of actions like those as being committed for their God. Imagine, then, how repulsed most Muslims must be by the acts committed by al Qaeda and similar groups.

Let me finish by pointing out that Timothy McVeigh, the man who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, was not a Muslim. Nor are any members of the Ku Klux Klan Muslim; in fact, members of the KKK are all white Protestants. If all Muslims are to be judged by the actions of al Qaeda, then should all white Protestants be judged by the actions of the KKK?