In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the anti-Islam rhetoric has been cranked up to 11. As usual, the right-wing conservative media is abuzz with false stories, including one that claims 10,000 Syrian refugees arrived in New Orleans to be resettled throughout the country. It wasn’t a surprise when Donald Trump decided to leverage the hysteria for his own political purposes.
Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yesterday and suggested that we may have to consider shutting down some mosques here in the United States. France’s Interior Minister has proposed doing the same thing in response to recent attacks across Europe by radicalized Muslims, and many conservatives here love the idea.
Via Talking Points Memo:
“I would hate to do it but it would be something that you’re going to have strongly consider,” Trump said. “Some of the ideas, some of the hatred, absolute hatred, is coming from these areas… We’re going to have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques. And from what I heard, in the old days, meaning a while ago, we had great surveillance going on in and around mosques in New York City. I understand our mayor totally cut that out. He totally cut that out. And I don’t know if you’ve brought that up, and I’m not sure it’s a fact, but I heard that under the old regime we had tremendous surveillance going on in and around the mosques of New York City. And right now that’s been totally cut out.” (Source)
First Amendment rights aside, what Trump is suggesting is also unfair profiling. However, if we are going to start surveillance and/or closure of mosques, let’s be fair and apply this same approach to all religious organizations that are promoting hatred while also hiding behind a tax-exempt status.
Westboro Baptist is one such organization which poses as a church, but does nothing other than troll online or harass events like soldier’s funerals. There’s also the Family Research Council or conservative radio host Kevin Swanson who has called for the execution of gay people, and recently hosted a conference which was attended by three GOP presidential candidates. These aren’t random lone wolves, these are organizations that hold views prevalent with Christian conservatives and who are catered to by politicians like Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee.
These are just a few of the radical groups in the United States that hide behind Christianity, just like ISIS/Daesh hides behind Islam. Like ISIS/Daesh, they often subscribe to similar beliefs in apocalypse prophecies which incentivizes both radical Christians and radical Muslims toward violence instead of peace.
So maybe we should start looking closely at all religious organizations across the United States, which is certain to draw howls from a lot of right-wing Christian groups who have more in common with radical Islam than they do with the teachings of Jesus. Yes, Islam absolutely has a problem with radical fundamentalists and we certainly should not be allowing religious centers to be used as recruitment centers for political extremists or terrorists – regardless of whether they call themselves Christians or Muslims.
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