Conservatives Should Be Embarrassed by Their Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

TV personality Jeanine Pirro speaks during the leadership forum at the National Rifle Association's annual convention Friday,
TV personality Jeanine Pirro speaks during the leadership forum at the National Rifle Association's annual convention Friday, May 3, 2013 in Houston. (AP Photo/Steve Ueckert)

Most Americans seem to agree that the world would be a better place without extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, rather than having a substantive conversation on solutions, talking heads in the media resort to hateful rhetoric and fear-mongering.

A recent example of this uninformed bigotry comes from Fox News anchor Judge Jeanine Pirro who was "furious" at statements made by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney after an attack on a police officer by a Muslim American. Kenney said "In no way shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam, or the teachings of Islam, have anything to do with what you've seen on that screen. That is abhorrent, it's terrible, and it does not represent the religion in any way shape or form or any of its teachings."

In response to the mayor's comments, Pirro angrily howls, "The man is wearing Muslim garb. He's sworn an allegiance to ISIS. He told the cops he did it for Allah and ISIS. His own mother says he's a devout Muslim. Are you stupid?" The problem here is not that Kenney is stupid but that Pirro isn't really listening to what Kenney is saying.

Nowhere in his statement did Kenney suggest the shooter wasn't dressed in Muslim garb. Nowhere in his statement did Kenney claim the shooter wasn't a Muslim. Nowhere in his statement did Kenney say ISIS isn't a problem.

The only thing Kenney said was that the actions of this man do not represent the teachings of Islam for Muslim Americans.

While there are certainly examples of Muslim Jihadists killing people in America; non-Muslim extremists, some of which were Christian, actually account for more deaths over the past 15 years. In fact Fox News reported that the Department of Defense considers Catholics and Evangelical Christians as terrorist groups similar to Al-Qaeda and the KKK. Ironically, many in the Christian community were offended by this classification and feel that the actions of a few extremists shouldn't sully the reputation of an entire religion. Apparently they feel that the attacks by Christian extremists in no way, shape or form represent the teachings of the Bible.

Despite her irrational response, it's possible that what Pirro is really concerned about here is that, in the edited clip she shows to viewers, the Mayor never addresses the issue of the "war on police". Obviously the attacks on the public servants is troubling and should be taken very seriously; however, data indicates that in spite of the popular narrative, police are not under attack. In fact police deaths from guns is at or near an all-time low.

Of course it should be noted that there isn't some epidemic of Muslims shooting cops across the United States. There was, however, a group in Michigan a few years back that considered themselves "Christian Warriors" who planned on killing various police officers and civilians in the hopes of starting a violent revolt. Oddly, it seems Judge Pirro never felt compelled to use her bully pulpit to express her outrage over these Christian cop killers.

Also missing from Pirro's rant is any mention of the shooter's mother's statements that her son had been hearing voices recently. Gun advocates like Judge Pirro are usually quick to say we don't have a gun problem in the U.S., we have a mental health problem. Yet whenever the mentally ill person is a Muslim, concerns about mental health are replaced with platitudes about Islamic terrorism.

There is no doubt that there are Muslims in this world that would like to do us harm and use Islam as the rationale, but in the U.S. the Muslim extremists are far outnumbered by all manner of other religious and cultural extremists. Castigating an entire religion for the actions of a few is something the Christians wholly reject when it comes to Christian extremism, so why are they so willing to do the same thing when it comes to Muslims?

Fixing religious extremism should absolutely be a priority for the U.S., but expecting people who are willing to die for their God to accept ignorant insults and blind hatred as a call for an honest introspection into their religious beliefs is asinine. Conservatives should also realize that many of the ills of Islam existed in Christianity hundreds of years ago; and while Christians have made great progress, it hasn't happened overnight and it certainly isn't perfect, as there are still those who call for the killing of homosexuals, those who demand women obey their husbands, and those who call for the murder of doctors that honor a woman's constitutionally protected right to abortion.

Islamic extremists may be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, but if you live in the U.S., odds are your own gluttony will kill you long before ever even encountering a radical Muslim. Pretending that is not the case doesn't make you a patriot or a protector of the constitution. It makes you a bully. If only these talking head Christian Crusaders were willing to do the same sort of soul-searching they expect everyone else to do.