Today, the world has learned that terrorists with the Taliban, the group of Islamic fundamentalist jihadists who have rained terror on Afghanistan and Pakistan for nearly two decades, "attacked a school in Peshawar, killing 141 people, 132 of them children." The death toll will almost certainly rise as some of the 114 children the BBC has reported are injured fail to survive.
But don't ask Muslims to condemn this cowardly attack on innocents. If you do, you'll upset Max Fisher at Vox, who just yesterday (HT Twitchy), in exquisite timing, insisted that it's "bigoted and Islamophobic" to expect anything of the sort:
Stop asking Muslims to condemn terrorism. It's bigoted and Islamophobic.
There's a certain ritual that each and every one of the world's billion-plus Muslims, especially those living in Western countries, is expected to go through immediately following any incident of violence involving a Muslim perpetrator. It's a ritual that is continuing now with the Sydney hostage crisis, in which a deranged self-styled sheikh named Man Haron Monis took several people hostage in a downtown café.
Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: "As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form."
This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by a Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion. This sort of thinking — blaming an entire group for the actions of a few individuals, assuming the worst about a person just because of their identity — is the very definition of bigotry.
It is time for that ritual to end: non-Muslims in all countries, and today especially those in Australia, should finally take on the correct assumption that Muslims hate terrorism just as much as they do, and cease expecting Muslims to prove their innocence just because of their faith.
Bigoted assumptions are the only plausible reason for this ritual to exist, which means that maintaining the ritual is maintaining bigotry.
In a tweet plugging his post, Fisher called for an "... end (to) one of our society's most quietly racist rituals: demanding Muslims condemn every act of terror." The poor dear doesn't even seem to realize that Islam is a religion, not a race.
Setting that ignorance aside, here's the problem, Max. We shouldn't even have to ask Muslims to condemn such acts. The condemnation should come naturally when someone who claims to be carrying out the tenets of their faith acts in a manner that is supposedly in direct opposition to those tenets as supposed "moderate Muslims" understand them. People of good will realize that if such condemnations aren't forthcoming, many people will reasonably infer that supposed "moderate Muslims" quietly sympathize with such actions.
By contrast, in the relatively rare instances in the past few decades when a person who has claimed to be pro-life has murdered or maimed others, the condemnation from pro-life leaders has been uniformly swift, certain — and unsolicited. No one has had to beg pro-life leaders to do what any ordinary human being would do when someone committing heinous acts claims to be doing so in their name.
Now let's suppose that pro-life leaders maintained complete silence in the wake of such attacks. I suspect that Max Fisher would be among those out front claiming that "any crime committed by a pro-lifer is the responsibility of all pro-lifers simply by virtue of their shared values." And, to be clear, he would have a point if unconditional condemnations didn't occur. But they always have, and I am confident they always will.
Here are just a few Twitter responses to Fisher — all delivered before today's Taliban attack in Pakistan:
"If someone committed terrorism in my religion's name, I'd want the chance to condemn it."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.