I’m Simply Running Out of Ways to Defend Islam

As I sit here overwhelmed with feelings of frustration and sorrow following yet another tragic shooting in this country, there aren’t words to describe my disgust. I refuse to believe that this is the “new normal” for us here in the United States, but it’s also hard to deny the fact that these shootings now seem to be happening more frequently.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this attack is, yet again, it was perpetrated by an Islamic radical. It’s like I said on Facebook almost as soon as I heard the news:

At some point we have to come to the realization that Islam is a problem. It’s not a coincidence that the vast majority of terrorist attacks committed in the world are done by Islamic extremists.

I’ll use the South Carolina shooting as an example. While you can’t blame all white people for the act of one vile animal, you also can’t deny that racism is still a very real problem.

Well, the same goes with this shooting. While not all Muslims are to be blamed for yet another terrorist attack seemingly carried out in the name of Islam, you also can’t deny that Islam, and the increasing (and growing) radical aspects of it, are very real problems.

I consider myself a fairly open-minded person; someone who doesn’t just feel negative feelings toward someone (or a group of people) without a valid reason to do so. But I’m just running out of ways to defend Islam.

As badly as I want to stand in the face of some right-wing radical who’s proclaiming that Islam is a violent, hateful religion and tell them that they’re an idiot and nothing but an ignorant jackass – I don’t know if I can say that and still honestly mean it.

I used to – without hesitation. I’ve always stood against prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. But with the increasing violence in the Middle East (at the hands of Islamic radicals), Boko Haram slaughtering innocents seemingly every day all across Africa and the increasing number of “lone wolf” attacks we’re seeing carried out throughout the world – how can I honestly sit here, as someone who believes in facts over emotion, and continue to say Islam has nothing to do with it?

The world is filled with various religions, and some people do in fact carry out horrific acts in the name of religions other than Islam. But it’s undeniable that the vast majority of terrorist attacks – for decades – have been linked to Islam.

And I really just don’t know what to say anymore.

So, what’s the “solution”? To be honest, I’m not sure if there is one. The only thing I can think of is Muslim leaders, and non-violent Muslims around the world (hundreds of millions of them), are going to have to start taking a bigger stand against these attacks. Simply condemning them publicly isn’t working, nor is it enough. We need Muslim nations to take the lead against radical Islam – but they’re not doing that. At least not in ways that are making much of a difference. 

Muslims have to want – and demand – actual democracy. They have to build nations not ruled by the Quran, but by basic human decency toward everyone regardless of gender, religion or sexual orientation.

As long as Muslims continue to flock toward nations founded, built and driven by Islamic rule – none of this is going to stop. Sadly, far too many continue to do just that.

Before you start calling me anti-Muslim, just understand that I’ve reached a point where I really don’t know where to go or what to say anymore about this subject. It’s hard for me to keep saying “it’s not Islam, it’s just the bad guys” when these sorts of attacks are becoming more and more frequent and are almost always tied to the same religion.

When I see videos of hostages being beheaded by ISIL, hear about 145 people killed (including 132 children) in a Pakistan school suicide bombing, read about hostages being murdered in Australia, a satire newspaper where writers were brutally gunned down because of a couple of cartoons, 28 people dying in Tunisia, the continued acts of violence all throughout the Middle East and the countless atrocities carried out by Boko Haram in Africa – all in the name of the same religion – how can I keep defending it from those who spew hatred toward it?

I want to, I really do – I’m just not sure if I know how to do it anymore.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • DarlaDave Golden

    I understand your frustration, but Islam itself is not the problem. It is the radicals and extremists who pervert the religion for their own ends. Would you condemn Christianity for the actions of the fringe element that uses the religion to further their agenda? You make a valid point that the leaders of the countries where these things happen need to take a hard stance against those extremists.

    • Howard Sands

      Aside from the terrorism aspect (which is overwhelmingly perpetuated by people of ISLAM ) are you not aware of the problem with women’s rights in countries of ISLAM? I consider myself rather liberal. that is PRECISELY why I don’t support a religion that treats its women abhorrently. Its ironic to think that being tolerant in this case is somehow honorable.

      • DarlaDave Golden

        I was responding to the article which was only a discussion of terrorism. Women’s rights, or the lack, would be a different discussion, which I would agree with.

      • Aaron Levesque

        Unfortunately you make the same broad generalization that represents the misunderstanding that may westerners have about Islam’s treatment of women. It varies widely from country to country, and is more a political issue than religious one. Both the Bible and Qur’an allow for the subjugation of women. This is because of the time in which they were written, but many modern nations have advanced considerably. Most Muslim nations do not have strict Sharia laws, but the perspective of the west is skewed by our focus on Arab oil and the despotic Iran. Before the revolution in Iran, women all over the Arab world walked around without even a hijab with no fear of retribution. Also, many women choose to cover themselves as they feel it demonstrates modesty.

      • Michael Schore

        Fuck that modesty crap. They walk around in skin tight clothes and painted up like whores. How is that modest or respectful. Such hypocrisy. Death to allah, death to all religions.

      • Howard Sands

        I don’t generalize. I base my comments on what I see and what I’ve read. Yes, many modern nations have advanced considerably. However, we have more than just a fringe element of people right here in our country, who fight tooth and nail against other people’s rights because of their own beliefs. It doesn’t take a scholar to know that certain religions, even in the 21st century, either keep a country from becoming modern, or (as in our case) wish to turn the years back a couple hundred or so.

      • Aaron Levesque

        It’s not the religion that’s doing it, Howard, it’s an ultraconservative group of followers of said religion.

  • Justine Enitsuj


  • Michael Moore
    • Roy Blankenship

      But you are a jackass…..

    • DarthYan

      As a friend once said.

      Here’s another question: where are all the Shi’ite Muslim suicide bombers?

      Did Harris ever think to ask that? I bet most Westerners never even noticed the glaring lack of Shi’ite suicide bombers. Well, to be fair, there are a few – they’re just extremely rare. And yet, the Shia have been oppressed pretty badly in Iraq prior to 2003, and the Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah is constantly fighting against Israel, yet they almost never use this tactic. The few times they supposedly did (like in Beirut in the 80s), they never claimed responsibility and it’s still not clear if Hezbollah actually committed all these attacks. To this day, Hezbollah leadership explicitly condemns the practice of suicide bombing.

      So where are all the Shi’ite suicide bombers? Well, a few of them have popped up, like in the last few months, in Iraq, in retaliation against Sunni suicide bombers (who regularly use this tactic) – not against “Red Cross” workers or whatever, as Harris suggests is some kind of regular practice amongst all Muslims suicide bombers. Yet still, Shi’ite suicide bombers remain startling rare.

      Why is that? It’s because it turns out the connection between the Koranic doctrine of Jihad and suicide bombing is tenuous at best. Individual suicide bombers don’t strap on the dynamite because they read the Koran and decided this was the best course of action – rather, they were convinced to do so by some Sunni Imam’s interpretation of the call to Jihad. As it turns out, Shi’ite clerics, unlike Sunni Imans, rarely endorse suicide bombing as a valid form of Jihad. So how come so many Sunni Imams conclude that suicide bombing is a valid form of Jihad? Because unlike the Shi’ites, most high-profile Sunni imams are a product of the Saudi Madrassah generation – the generation that was educated in fundamentalist Saudi-funded Madrassahs that directly led to things like the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and ultimately things like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

      Yet Harris addresses none of this, at least not that I’ve seen in these select quotes, or the various clips posted online here. I haven’t read his books, so I don’t know if he discusses these issues, but from what I see here, at least, his understanding of radical Islam is almost childish.

      I mean, I agree it’s more likely that something like the doctrine of Jihad in the Koran would result in the idea of suicide bombing than anything found in the New Testament – Harris is correct about that. But that doesn’t mean there’s some clear, obvious link between Jihad as defined in the Koran and suicide bombing. A very hardline, radical fundamentalist version of Islam, which just happens to have the backing of billions of dollars in oil revenue, is mostly responsible for this connection.

      Try giving Fred Phelps 100 billion dollars in oil revenue, and see what it does to mainstream Christianity.

  • BamPow

    I think your articles would be a lot more compelling if you cut down on using “I.” Just some food for thought.

  • Brice Clifton

    I have respected your work in the past – but –
    Terrorism originates where oppression persists, neo-colonial extraction etc.
    ISIL’s zealotry was nursed in such an environment, as was Pol Pot’s regime, and on and on, forget your history so you repeat it.

  • Brian

    Sunni Islam itself is a problem. It’s a religion rotten at its core, and the vast majority of the world’s mass murders are committed in its name. You’re lying to yourself so you can keep patting yourself on the back for being tolerant if you think otherwise.

  • strayaway

    Put a slightly different way: Since Muslim extremists killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, terrorist attacks by antigovernment, racist and other nonjihadist extremists have killed 48 people while Muslims extremists have killed an additional 31 people. Or to be even more creative – If there are 8M Muslims in the US out of a population of 319M then since 9/11, (31murders/8M Muslims ~ 48murders/311M non-Muslims) Muslims have killed 25 times as many people in the US in terrorist attacks, per person, as non-muslims have killed.