We don’t say a “#Radical #Christian” shot a bunch of people at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado; or say “Radical Christians” blew up the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City in 1995; we don’t say “Radical #Jews”, in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts; or “Radical #Buddhists” killing Muslims in Myanmar. So why are we saying “Radical #Islam”? There’s no doubt that we have reason to be concerned about radicals. Everywhere. But why are we only using the words “Radical Islam”?
This is befuddling to me. So, I’ll start with the basics. A very dear friend once told me, “Words mean things.” Indeed they do. So let’s break this down and do a bit of research.
Sidebar: my research is not intended to try and convince you. Only to show that I like to ask questions, and research subject matters that are confusing or unknown to me. In serious subject matters, I’ll provide reference links, and if my argument is flawed, I always appreciate constructive criticism and guidance.
Let’s start with a definition of “Radical” shall we? When I do a Google search of “Radical”- this comes up:
Adjective: advocating or based on thorough or complete political or social reform; representing or supporting an extreme section of a political party. “a radical American activist”; synonyms: revolutionary, progressive, reformist, revisionist, progressivist; representing or supporting an extreme section of a political party.
Researchers should also Google, “Radical Christianity”. One search reveals on a Christian website:
“Jesus was a radical and, hence, countercultural and, as Christians, we are to be radical and countercultural as well! We are never to be satisfied with a status quo that allows assorted social ills such as poverty, corruption in institutions, discrimination of any kind, or the creation of out-groups that are then demonized and discriminated against ‘in the name of God,’ to go unchallenged.”
This idea of radical seems to be reasonably acceptable, as Jesus challenged the status quo.
Now Google: worst examples of non-Islamic terrorism that have occurred in the United States in the last 30 years, in this search you will find some interesting observations, including commentary on a few ‘Christian Terrorist Organizations’, such as the ‘Army Of God’, and ‘KKK’:
“Pointing out that a non-Muslim white male carried out an attack as vicious and deadly as the Oklahoma City bombing doesn’t fit into the narrative that only Muslims and people of color are capable of carrying out terrorist attacks. Neocons will claim that bringing up McVeigh’s name during a discussion of terrorism is a “red herring” that distracts us from fighting radical Islamists, but that downplays the cruel, destructive nature of the attack.
Prior to the al-Qaeda attacks of 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing McVeigh orchestrated was the most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history: 168 people were killed and more than 600 were injured. When McVeigh used a rented truck filled with explosives to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, his goal was to kill as many people as possible. McVeigh was motivated by an extreme hatred for the U.S. government and saw the attack as revenge for the Ruby Ridge incident of 1992 and the Waco Siege in 1993. He had white supremacist leanings as well (when he was in the U.S. Army, McVeigh was reprimanded for wearing a “white power” T-shirt he had bought at a KKK demonstration).
James Charles Kopp is a radical Christian terrorist who has been exalted as a hero by the Army of God. On Oct. 23, 1998 Kopp fired a single shot into the Amherst, NY home of Barnett Slepian (a doctor who performed abortions), mortally wounding him. Slepian died an hour later.
Eric Rudolph, who is serving life without parole for a long list of terrorist attacks committed in the name of Christianity. Rudolph is best known for carrying out the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics—a blast that killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others. Hawthorne wasn’t the only person Rudolph murdered: his bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998 caused the death of Robert Sanderson (a Birmingham police officer and part-time security guard) and caused nurse Emily Lyons to lose an eye.
Rudolph’s other acts of Christian terrorism include bombing the Otherwise Lounge (a lesbian bar in Atlanta) in 1997 and an abortion clinic in an Atlanta suburb in 1997. Rudolph was no lone wolf: he was part of a terrorist movement that encouraged his violence. And the Army of God continues to exalt Rudolph as a brave Christian who is doing God’s work.
The Army of God, is a loose network of radical Christians with a long history of terrorist attacks on abortion providers. One Christian Right terrorist with ties to the Army of God was Paul Jennings Hill, who was executed by lethal injection on Sept. 3, 2003 for the murders of abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett.
On July 27, 2008, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a children’s play and began shooting people at random. Two were killed, while seven others were injured but survived. Adkisson said he was motivated by a hatred of liberals, Democrats and gays, and he considered neocon Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, his political manifesto.
Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009, was a victim of Christian Right terrorism, not al-Qaeda.
On Aug. 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semiautomatic weapon to murder six people during an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Page’s connection to the white supremacist movement was well-documented: he had been a member of the neo-Nazi rock bands End Empathy and Definite Hate. Attorney General Eric Holder described the attack as “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred.”
At Fox News and AM neocon talk radio, Islamic terrorism is a source of nonstop fear-mongering, while Christian Right terrorism seems to get a pass.
To be clear, I am against violent extremism in any form. And I’d love for all extremists to be sent one way to Kodiak Island, so they can enforce their beliefs on one another. I despise when anyone abuses/harms another. Savages need to be dealt with savagely. An eye for an eye.
However, in my opinion, these confusing labels are causing more of a rift between peoples than anything. It’s throwing mud on an already befuddling situation. It’s not helping the matter- it’s hurting us. All of us. It’s adding fuel to a fire that is not going out anytime soon, and many are playing right into it.
Those who are non-muslim and don’t know anything about the Islamic Faith, are being drawn into the age-old classic that began in school yard politics…. let’s create a name to tease the new, foreign kid with. Remember in grade school when a strange new kid appeared in our class? How did we react? Did we welcome him? Did we invite him to sit with us at the cafeteria table at lunch? Probably not. Today, we don’t know anything about this new kid, this foreign kid, so the school yard bullies decide they want to put a label on him. And blame him for all the ills done by others. This makes the new kid upset and angry, leading to more misunderstanding… convincing the other gullible kids that the new kid must have stolen that lunch box or did, in fact, trip the crippled kid, or worse, will be waiting for them in a dark alley after school to do unspeakable things.
When one only hears of “Islamic extremism” in the mainstream media it’s easy to believe that’s the only form out there. But while we are so busy rushing to judgment about an entire Faith, we are becoming the very hypocrites we claim to detest. We are becoming “Radicalized”. There are plenty more extremists to worry about. In fact, some may be stockpiling their arms, including automatic weapons, in preparation for when (they believe) Islam takes over.
Bottom line: We don’t know, what we don’t know. And it makes us nervous. So let’s make Islam the big, bad guy, the new kid we don’t know anything about- so he surely must be the culprit in all things evil. Right?
(For those of you who want to demonize Islam in its entirety, I’d love to hear what you plan or hope to do in order to rid the world of the over 2 billion evil doers, while the rest are surely innocents.)