This past week has been abuzz about the case of Alton Nolen - the 30-year-old man in Oklahoma arrested after killing and beheading a 54-year-old female coworker. But whereas some have focused their attention on a sincere concern for the victim's family and the investigation of this particularly savage murder case, others have shockingly taken this as an opportunity to abandon honesty and integrity in favor of conspiracy theories.
The primary target in a concerted effort to exploit this tragic case is the religion of Islam, and the efforts by politicians and media personalities to advance an incredibly lopsided narrative is staggering and shameful.
From a political standpoint, eight Oklahoma state representatives pounced on this opportunity to exploit the murder by alleging that it somehow proves that Sharia is taking over America and must be stopped. This brutal murder, however, is a revenge attack from a disturbed and disgruntled coworker that has no connection to Sharia. Such dishonest and illogical rhetoric not only perpetuates the fear of Sharia in America but also demonstrates a callous disregard for intellectual integrity that has no place among those we have elected to positions of authority.
In the media, the Fox News show The Kelly File regrettably obfuscated the facts of the murder case and allowed it to become a tool to create mistrust of Islam. Despite the fact that nearly every major and minor news outlet has recorded the county prosecutor and district attorney's discovery (and the human resources department's admission) that Nolen was suspended for making racist remarks to coworkers, shows like The Kelly File boldly suggest that Nolen murdered his coworkers simply because they did not convert to Islam. There is absolutely no evidence provided by anyone investigating the case to back this claim. Yet it was repeatedly made as a statement of fact on air.
More alarming, however, is that this same show on Fox News brought an anonymous guest onto the show Wednesday, who claimed he spent two years visiting the same mosque Nolen had attended. And he boldly alleged that Muslims covertly hide their true beliefs and agenda of subjugating non-Muslims by threat of force. "The true teachings of Islam," he alleged, are that, "when you meet the unbelievers, you should smite at their necks," referring to the act of beheading. Instead of challenging such a bold claim, host Megyn Kelly simply validated the claim stating that such language was also found on Nolen's Facebook page. In other words, the show suggested that Islam calls for Muslims to behead non-Muslims they meet.
The anonymous guest continued, alleging that there is a teaching in Islam allowing or even requiring Muslims to deceive non-Muslims by lying to them. He continued the mistruths, claiming not only that suicide bombing is supported by Islam but that the true teachings of Islam give non-believers the choice of either converting to Islam, living under subjugation of Muslims or being killed. When asked about the prevalence of this belief amongst Muslims, the guest alleged that those Muslims who do not believe in such principles have simply chosen not to practice that part of their religion. Thus, according to this news guest, the religion of Islam itself requires such barbarism, and the only way a Muslim could be peaceful is by ignoring parts of Islam's doctrine.
Such incendiary remarks were not only unchallenged and uninterrupted in a long eight-minute segment on the show, but they were repeated the very next day when The Kelly File spent another three minutes airing the same interview with the anonymous guest. Mrs. Kelly did not push back, challenge, or seek to get to the truth about the inflammatory claims of her guest. He was simply allowed to continue uninterrupted. There was no counterpoint offered, no expert on Islam brought onto the program to address the accusations. The viewers were left with this as a matter of "fact."
Such irresponsible reporting does not meet the standards of professional journalism. One can only give so much benefit of the doubt before beginning to wonder if such news reporting is deliberate ignorance and bias against Islam. Each and every of the accusations made by the anonymous guest are false. There may be individual Muslims or Muslim groups that adhere to some of these beliefs, which is why other Muslims condemn their beliefs and behavior. The claims, however, weren't made about Muslims; they were made about Islam. And there is absolutely no truth to these claims according to the doctrine of Islam. The Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammmad bear testament to the fact that these allegations are all untrue.
Would an expert on Islam be given eight uninterrupted minutes on air to calmly answer these allegations? If the past is our teacher, it would seem that the answer, regrettably, would be no.