Islam doesn't kill people, people do

After every terrorist attack the response from the conservative media is always the same - liberal apologists and political correctness are to blame for this horrific tragedy. Such is the case with a conversation between Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin from earlier this week on Fox News titled, "Political correctness 'at all costs' costs lives". In their minds, despite the fact that many terrorist attacks are home grown, laws such as the President's unconstitutional travel ban are a panacea for stopping terrorism.

Of course what they are really talking about here is the conservative belief that Islam is the root cause of these attacks, and the counter argument from liberals, that on the whole Islam is a peaceful religion that is being manipulated and co-opted by violent extremists. While there is no denying that many of these attacks are perpetrated by groups claiming to be ruled by Islamic doctrine, and there are many countries where the Quran is used as justification for oppressive and archaic laws; asserting that not all Muslims view the teachings of the Quran in the same way is hardly the roadblock to stopping terrorism that conservatives pretend it is.

Having said it's possible that what we have here is a failure to communicate, let's put the argument for a measured response to Islam in terms that conservatives are more comfortable with. After every mass shooting, liberals quickly demand new restrictions on guns because they believe that guns kill people. The conservative response to this is always - Guns don't kill people, people do. It turns out that same logic is at the heart of the push back from liberals on Islamic terrorists. It's not that liberals don't believe there are Muslims that kill people under the guise of Islam. It's just that Islam doesn't kill people, people do.

So if we believe the trite memes that argue pencils don't misspell words, forks don't make people fat, and cars don't make people drive drunk, then it follows that Islam doesn't make people terrorists. Similarly, if banning guns is useless because bad guys will find ways to get guns; then banning Muslims won't work either since bad Muslims will find a way to commit acts of terror. In fact the sort of extreme vetting some people think will prevent terrorists from entering the country is nearly identical to the guns laws that many believe prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. As the NRA has argued, the only thing these proposals do is add an unnecessary burden to law abiding citizens.

Gun advocates also believe that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. With this in mind, perhaps the best solution to a bad guy with a Quran is a good guy with a Quran. This means arming more citizens with the peaceful interpretation of the Muslim holy book and helping them spread the word instead of painting all Muslims with the broad brush of terrorism.

The reality is that, just as the right to bear arms is protected by the constitution, so is the right to religious freedom and protection from discrimination due to your religious beliefs. This is why the courts continue to block the Muslim travel ban that it has determined "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination".

Asking people to refrain from pigeonholing Islam and it's followers as inherently evil isn't because liberals are afraid of offending ISIS or other terrorist groups committing atrocities under the guise of Islam. It's because books don't kill people - people do, which means stopping Islamic terrorists requires us to combat the terrorists, not Islam.

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