Since the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office that left twelve people dead there has been a considerable amount of coverage by U.S. media. Unfortunately the bulk of this media attention has been errant fear mongering. For example a number of Fox News on air personalities have suggested that Muslims were "silent" regarding condemnation of this attack. Given the volume of Muslim repudiation such ignorant statements say far more about those who make them than those they are attempting to admonish. There are also those like Matt Drudge who brought out the oft used "Obama hesitates to call murders terrorism" meme.
But perhaps the most surprising of the narratives to come out of this senseless violence is the one that people like Greg Gutfeld are making. These people believe that somehow the liberal media are to blame for all Islamic aggression. If only the media had the gravitas to promote reasoned statements like Jeanine Pirro who said "We need to kill them all." Surely radical Muslims would hear such declarations from the media in a country they are at war with and back down.
The reason the liberal media continues to call for tolerance isn't because they think there aren't Muslims that want to kill Americans. It's because the conservative media and the uninformed over react to every attack and condemn Islam as being evil. This fear mongering leads to radicals like Wade Michael Page who killed six innocent Sikh devotees. It leads to arson attempts at an Islamic Center in Tennessee. And it leads to around 160 reported hate crimes against Muslims in America each year.
The liberal media continues to preach understanding because America has a long an inglorious history of violence and unnecessary restrictions against people who aren't like us. Afraid that Japanese Americans would turn on the U.S. the government sanctioned internment camps. Faced with concerns over the potential spread of Communism a government sponsored witch hunt resulted in the imprisonment of a number of Americans. For hundreds of years black Americans have been subjected to both government backed as well as citizen supported mistreatment, attacks and murders. Members of the LGBT community have been abused and treated as a threat to so called traditional values for decades. And now Muslims are seen by some as evil, miscreants who are hell bend on spreading sharia law.
Obviously the Islam practiced by radicals is not something the vast majority of Americans - liberal or conservative - are interested in seeing. But to the extent that liberals "defend" Islam it has far more to do with quelling the irrational fear of easily radicalized Americans than it does a support of Islamic ideals.
Of course Islam is hardly the first or only religion to have murderous followers. History is full of religious violence from nearly all faiths. Few if any have a moral high ground to stand on. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists have attacked Christian and Muslim minorities. In Central Africa, Christian Militias have forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee. And in the Gaza strip, countless Muslim civilians have been killed by Jews in the name of self defense.
Perhaps the biggest problem here is this eye for an eye mentality. When taking claim for the 9/11 attacks Osama Bin Laden said this was in retaliation for the U.S. support for attacks against Muslims in Somalia, the U.S. support for Russian attacks against Muslims in Chechnya, as well as other aggressions against Muslims. It was not an attempt to spread sharia law or destroy Christianity. The same is also true of other terrorist attacks like the Boston bombing, the Fort Hood shooting, the New York car bombing, the underwear bomber, and the Little Rock Recruiting office shooting.
These incidents suggest that the spread of radical Islam has far more to do with the violent nature of the U.S. than how the media handles these attacks. In fact the U.S. is responsible for the deaths of more Muslim civilians than all of the terrorist attacks combined. It should also be noted that since the U.S. that declared a "War on Terror" the prevalence of Islamic terrorist groups has increased not decreased. It may make us feel better to see the murder of hundreds of thousands of Muslims as defending democracy against evil however this is a dangerously ethnocentric way of looking at things.
Imagine if another country bombed your town, killing many of your friends and family, in an effort to protect themselves from extremist leaders they claim live near you. Would you be willing to accept the deaths of those you love as collateral damage for the greater good or would it radicalize you to respond in kind?
Eliminating radical Islam doesn't always require the U.S. to use military might. Instead we should look to leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. who used peaceful methods during the civil rights movement to enact change. The U.S. could support the efforts of Muslims like Malala Yousafzai who is working to destroy radical Islam from the inside by empowering women to get an education so they can think for themselves. After all the Qur'an is a book so being able to read it might go a long way to solving the misinterpretations that act as the basis for many of these terrorist organizations.
Obviously pretending that the benevolent nature of liberals is to blame is far easier than accepting that these attacks could be the response to the U.S. blood lust but the reality is that this eye for an eye mentality hasn't stopped terrorism from spreading. Moving forward we should recognize that we don't let a group like the Westboro Baptist Church serve as the standard bearer for all Christians nor do we accept the KKK or the Black Panthers as prototypical representatives of white and black Americans. With this in mind we shouldn't let Muslim zealots color our view of all Muslims, because how we got to this point is far less important than figuring out a responsible path from here.