For the past few years, the Western world has seen many frightening and heartbreaking attacks on the people of the Middle East. ISIS and other extremist groups have been wreaking havoc on mosques, funerals, weddings, and other public spaces--often killing and maiming dozens in their path. This is horrifying and brings to light many questions about the causes of the terrorist movements that are perpetrating these crimes against humanity. However, it's mind-boggling when Americans, including prominent politicians, claim that Islam is entirely to blame for these attacks, and ignore that what's really happening is that Islam is being attacked itself.
What I've seen dozens and dozens of times in the comments section of news articles, is a comment with 500 upvotes that reads something like this: "So much for the religion of peace. Wake up America!" This is an infuriatingly short-sighted remark. What we all miss when we see these comments is that likely every single one of the victims was Muslim. All of them.
They didn't do anything; on the contrary, going about your day in a public place is about as peaceful as you can get. Some of them may have been practicing devotees, and some of them may have been more informal religiously. Statistically, there could have been a few atheists in the bunch, or even a Christian or two. But the reality is, it's impossible to ignore that most of the victims, whether children, adults, or teenagers who led very "Western" lives, would have identified themselves as Muslim if asked.
A mosque is bombed, killing Muslims who were there to pray and follow the beliefs of Islamic culture. And somehow Americans make this out to be the fault of the religion that built the mosque--not the extremism of the terrorists who bombed it in the first place. While it's true that terrorists have also attacked Europe and America, it's shameful how much the media has ignored the constant massacre of ordinary Muslims by these groups. The few hundred deaths caused in the West are no less tragic than the thousands of Muslims who have been (and will continue to be) killed in the East. But how can you look at such a disparity between the number of Westerners killed and the number of Easterners, and say "The East and their religion is causing this"? There are so many other factors at play.
I would really like to know, what is accomplished by blaming Islam for these attacks when those who practice Islam are the ones being injured and killed the most? It only serves to demonize the religion--nothing more. You're not accomplishing any kind of productive discourse when you say "Look at these deaths caused by Islam". You are blaming the religion that the victims practiced for their own deaths. That's tantamount to victim-blaming. It ignores the context of the situation and shows a remarkable lack of compassion for those killed in such a horrible way.
Those of us who are able to see clearer than this don't want to pretend as if extremists like ISIS aren't associated with Islam at all. Conservatives almost daily ridicule people for supposedly trying to hide the role of religion in these attacks. However, we know full well that there is an undeniable role that religion has in Eastern terrorism — just as much as politics, history, and American war crimes committed in the East. So it's true: Islam is connected to the extremists. That being said, it's completely illogical to mock the entire religion for attacks against other Muslims. It doesn't help anything, except for the bigoted belief that all Muslims are barbarians living in the Stone Age.
We can do better than this. Muslims deserve better than this, because they are the ones at the most risk from these terrorists. We should do our utmost to protect American Muslims from the hate that is spreading, because their religion is not responsible for killing people in the East. It is a byproduct of Islamic extremism that is doing this, and we must be able to tell the difference — or we will continue to shamefully ridicule those who need our help the most.