The West needs to do better at calling out our own extremists



Every time there is a terrorist act committed by Muslims against westerners there are calls for Muslims to denounce terror. This has always been something of an absurd request because most victims of terror are, themselves, Muslim - it should be fairly obvious that they don’t support terror. Still, the requests always come and Muslims comply with them.  

However, Islam is not the problem, extremism is the problem and radical Islam only makes up part of "extremism". Western white supremacist, xenophobic and Islamaphobic individuals and groups are the flip side of ISIS. Without their contributions, groups like ISIS and Al Queda would have a hard time existing. 

The pattern goes like this: 

1) There is a terrorist incident (in the west, terrorist incidents that happen in the Middle East, Africa or Asia are largely ignored). 
2) White Nationalists and related individuals and groups use it as an excuse to denounce Islam; to call for mass incarceration and violence; to label Islam a religion of hate and generally to try to convince people that Islam hates the West and that people need to defend themselves
3) Radical groups use this as a recruiting tool to show young Muslims that they are hated in the west and that they need to act to defend themselves. 

And then the loop repeats, with each side using the other to recruit and inspire more hate and violence. Each side is dependent for existence on the other and both sides are at least partially responsible for the actions of the other.

While Muslim leaders, groups and individuals now almost automatically condemn any illegal act by a Muslim, people in the West tend to let our half of the equation slide.

Today, in response to recent terror attack in London Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins said, on his Facebook page, that "The free world... all of Christendom... is at war with Islamic horror" and that anyone suspected (supected!) of belonging to a radical muslim group should be hunted down and killed: "Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all." Statements like this provide ISIS with a whole new catalogue of recruiting tools and statements like that are plentiful after any Islamic terror attack in the west.

Such statements are far less likely after incidents such as the mass shooting by a white nationalist at a Charleston, SC Church or the mass shooting, by a white nationalist, at a Quebec mosque. Why? Because the people who commit those acts are on the same side, or at least inspired by, people like Rep. Higgins.

This is not a war on terror, it is not a war of Christianity vs. Islam or West vs. East it is a war between conflicting racist, xenophobic, extremist groups. Most of us have no real side in that war at all and neither do most of the war's casualties.

I take no issue with governments maintaining lists of terrorist groups and known supporters of those groups. However, all racist, ultra-nationalist and religious extremist groups and their supporters belong on the same list. This includes white nationalist and other extremist groups operating in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Winning this war can only happen if all of the extremists lose. A blow to any one of them is a blow to all of them. It is not enough for Muslims to denounce Islamic extremism, it is up to all of us to reject all form of extremism and push back against those who promote it.
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