New Age Islam
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Islam and Politics ( 6 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslims, Mass Shootings and the Media

By Kelly James Clark


The most up to date tally of mass shootings in the U.S. shows that there have been 207 mass shootings in 2015 so far (where "mass shooting" is defined as four or more people shot in one incident). Shooting Tracker, "the world's only crowd sourced mass shooting tracker," provides the best record of these atrocities. While aimed at the U.S.'s overly generous gun policies, the site is revealing in at least one other regard: of the 207 mass shootings so far this year, precisely 1 (the July 16, 2015 Chattanooga murders) was committed by a Muslim. The other 206? It's hard to tell because many suspects have not been identified. But, and here's the point, they are not identifiably Muslim and Islamic terrorism was not identifiably the motive.

Caveat: these statistics omit the May 3, 2015 Garland, TX shooting because it was not, by definition, a mass shooting (the only casualties were the two Muslim perpetrators).

Beginning with the links provided by Shooting Tracker, my analysis of the media coverage related to each mass shooting revealed a pattern. For every non-Muslim shooting suspect, the media never mentioned their religion. Moreover, in nearly every case, it was claimed that the mass shooters were suffering from some sort of mental instability. These suspects were often ostracized from both society and family, deeply depressed and suicidal. People thusly afflicted, given easy access to guns, sometimes kill people, lots of them. Then they either turn the gun on themselves or perish in a hail of anticipated bullets. Crazy, right?

Yet the media immediately identified the motivation of Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez when he recently killed five U.S. soldiers in Chattanooga: radical Islam. Unlike the preceding 206 mass shooters, his religion was not ignored; his religion was the only thing that mattered.

Reports have emerged; however, that Abdulazeez was a drug and alcohol abuser with a history of mental illness. He was ostracized from his family and friends; a loner with little hope. Probably suicidal. But, based on exactly two ambiguous blog posts, Abdulazeez has been repeatedly called "a devout Muslim" and his shootings a terrorist act. He wasn't crazy, we are assured, he was a Muslim. Honestly, though, a devout Muslim? Hardly. Terrorist? Who knows? He died before anyone could question him.

One of those who "knows" not only Abdulazeez's inner thoughts but also (as one might expect) Obama's complicity is Tomi Lahren, host of One America News Network's On Point. In a viral video, she proclaims, evidence to the contrary: "This is not a criminal act with motives unknown. This is terrorism. The suspected shooter, Muhammad Abdulazeez, a devout Muslim." She goes on to tar all Muslims with radicalism: "radical Islam is becoming the rule, not the exception" and "yesterday's moderate is today's terrorist."

Laura Ingraham, "the most listened-to woman in political talk radio in the United States," commends Lahren: "She Rips Obama To Shreds With This Epic Monologue & Says What We've All Been Thinking." Following Lahren's lead, Tim Brown of Freedom Outpost (which calls John McCain an "insane traitor") blames Obama:

The one thing that Lahren doesn't point out is that this administration has been in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood, Communists, Marxists and the like since before Day 1 in the White House. She is asking for a Muslim-led (yes, that's Obama) administration to be American and do the right thing. The problem is that this administration only knows evil and wickedness... Obama has no intention of being American. He's a Marxist-Muslim who cares nothing for dead Americans.

It is a terrible thing, though, if Lahren is indeed saying what we've all been thinking.

Lahren's sentiments are uninformed, inflammatory and prejudicial. While it is fashionable in some circles to assert, "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims," the statistics tell a decidedly different story. What the statistics tell us is that in 2015, U.S. citizens were vastly more likely to be killed by a non-Muslim than a Muslim in a mass shooting (206 times more likely if there was 1 Muslim mass-shooting and 206 non-Muslim mass-shootings).

What are the stats on terrorism on U.S. soil? From 1980-2005, 94 percent of terrorist acts on U.S. soil were perpetrated by non-Muslims.

We see a similar pattern in Europe where, Europol reports, from 2007-2009 Islamic terror constitutes a tiny fraction of the terrorist attacks in European countries. During that period, more then 99 percent of terrorist attacks in Europe were by non-Muslims.

Lahren is also telling us that we should give in to one of our worst human impulses, the impulse to judge. She wants us to judge all 1.6 billion Muslims by Abdulazeez and the 26 preceding "Muslim" killers of soldiers. Such prejudice inflames irrational fears and inspires reflexive hatred, violence and even war.

To make the issue crystal clear: suppose instead the stats had been 1 black mass shooter, 206 white mass shooters. And suppose the media had ignored the race of the white shooters but had focused on the color of the one black shooter (attributing the murders to race). Such judgments about blacks would have been seen for precisely what they are--racism (of course, to our shame, we do this already). And yet prejudicial judging is fair game these days for Muslims.

Let me be clear. I (along with the vast majority of Muslims around the world) detest radical "Islam" and the terrorism it condones. I (and the vast majority of Muslims) detest ISIS and their vicious and violent imposition of their misunderstanding of Islam on the world. And I think we should work, hand in hand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, to rid the world of this evil.

Unlike Lahren, however, I have no idea how to rid the world of radical Islam, which is as insidious and resilient and enticing as the hatred and fears and domination that created the conditions for the existence and flourishing of ISIS.

Lahren has a plan: go full force to the Middle East and wipe out ISIS. Her plan ignores two lessons that we should have learned from history: (A) the Middle East is a swamp that swallowed up the former Soviet Union and trillions of U.S. dollars (to no noticeably better effect), and (B) if the U.S. were to wipe out ISIS, countless more young people would be motivated to fight against the U.S. The latter is likely because U.S. wars don't just wipe out bad guys, they wipe out mostly innocent civilians, destroy futures, and maintain U.S. economic imperialism. This makes some people (righteously) angry. Go figure.

We lost five soldiers on July 16 -- a terrible tragedy that should never happen again. The most reasonable solution is to arm U.S. military recruiters in anticipation of unforeseeable lone wolf attacks.

But our misguided and unjust war in Iraq cost the lives of over a million Iraqi civilians and continues to wreak havoc (the toxic consequences in Fallujah alone are worse than Hiroshima). Where is Lahren's outrage over those innocent women and children? Or do only U.S., non-Muslim lives count?