I have many thoughts on the Paris attacks but the one I want to point out today is this: there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and what most of them want to do is live their lives, love their family, friends and neighbors, and be at peace with themselves, their world and their God.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks; one of ISIS’ goals is to spread distrust of Muslims for its own ends, to end the “grayzone,” as it calls it:
Eliminating the grayzone – the zone of coexistence – and rendering a world as black & white as their own flag. That's what ISIS wants.
— İyad el-Baghdadi | إياد البغدادي (@iyad_elbaghdadi) November 14, 2015
— Dr Nafeez Ahmed (@NafeezAhmed) November 14, 2015
Which is to say that every time someone lumps all Muslims into the ISIS camp, the stupid, murderous, rapist, culture-destroying ISIS camp, they’re doing ISIS’ work for them. ISIS is relying on the rest of us to see the world as they do, and as they want us to.
If you believe that every Muslim supports ISIS and groups like it, then you should also believe that all Christians support the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church and Scott Lively. You should believe that all white people support actions like the Charleston Shooting. You should believe every man celebrates the anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre. And so on, across any group or affiliation you might be able to name.
If you don’t believe all of these things, but somehow manage to believe that more than a billion people are somehow sympathetic to, and responsible for the actions of, a cadre of murderous fundamentalists (“fundamentalist” in this case, as in so many cases with that term, not accurately representing the fundamentals of the religion it claims to represent), then the problem is you, not 1.2 billion Muslims. If you demand they answer and apologize for ISIS, I will be more than happy to go down a list of all the things you can be identified as and demand you apologize and answer for the actions of the worst of that segment of society. I suspect you will get tired of this very quickly.
The Muslims I know, and I know more than just a few, are as horrified as anyone by ISIS and what they represent. The Muslims I know are good people, and I am proud if and when they consider me to be their friend. I don’t experience what they feel when events like this happen, which give bigots here, where we live, an excuse to hate and demonize them. But I can see the impact from the outside. It’s stupid what is done to them, and it’s wrong.
So: Don’t. Don’t do what ISIS wants you to do. Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be, and to be to Muslims. Be smarter than they want you to be. All it takes is for you to imagine the average Muslim to be like you, than to be like ISIS. If you can do that, you make a better world, and a more difficult one for groups like ISIS to exist in.
If you can’t do that, consider that perhaps you are more like ISIS than the average Muslim.