OK, I get it. As liberals, we're supposed to look beyond the rhetoric of the Islamists who massacred journalists in Paris, so that we don't condemn an entire religion for their acts.
After they had slaughtered the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and others, the Kouachi brothers coolly headed outside the newspaper's offices and shouted, "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!"
Liberal commenters implored us not to accept those words literally. What the Kouachi brothers had done was not in the name of "true" Islam, we were told. In fact, some commenters said, the killings had nothing to do with religion at all.
Charlie Hebdo had printed numerous cartoons of Muhammad, whose image, many Muslims believe, is not to be printed at all, let alone to be mocked. (The fact that the Koran doesn't specifically prohibit images of the prophet really doesn't mean much if the billion-plus Muslims in the world feel otherwise.)
The Kouachi brothers may have felt they were avenging their prophet by murdering the journalists who printed those cartoons, but like the rest of us, many Muslims were shocked and dismayed by their actions. Here at Raw Story we found numerous cases of moderate Muslims denouncing what had happened in Paris.
And that's extremely important. The Kouachi brothers and extremists like them don't represent all of Islam, and we're never going to solve the problems of Islamic extremism without the help of moderate Muslims.
But I have no patience for the idiot liberal commenters who tell us that religion had nothing at all to do with the bloodshed in Paris.
And this week, there's been a dishonest attempt by a few writers who are trying to convince us that Muslim terrorism is not only not the problem we perceive it to be, but that it is, in fact, practically nonexistent.
I'm talking about a column at the Daily Beast by lawyer and comedian Dean Obeidallah, a Muslim, which was titled 'Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close.'
Obeidallah's piece showed up at the Daily Beast after several similar items -- all citing an FBI study about terrorism in America -- had made the rounds of smaller left-leaning websites.
And their point was this: Why are we panicked about Muslims when most terrorism in this country comes from LATINOS.
I lived in some pretty rough Latino-heavy neighborhoods in Los Angeles growing up, but I don't remember gavachos being beheaded in the name of la Virgen.
Citing the FBI report, Obeidallah says that 42 percent of the terror attacks in the US since 1980 were "carried out by Latino-related groups," while only about 6 percent were the responsibility of Muslims.
Shocking, isn't it? (Think Progress cited the same study in its own story about how Muslim terrorism is almost nonexistent, despite popular perception.)
Those numbers seemed to defy reality, so I decided to take a closer look at the FBI study.
And here's what neither Obeidallah or Think Progress bothered to tell readers.
Yes, the FBI did put together a study which totalled all of the incidents it characterized as acts of terror on American soil between 1980 and 2005, and only a few of them were committed by Islamists. And it turns out that many of the acts were committed by "Latino" groups -- for the most part, Puerto Rican nationalists.
But that study is swamped by incidents that resulted not only in no deaths, but not even any injuries.
In other words, because of attacks by Puerto Rican seperatists in the 1980s and 1990s that did some property damage, we're supposed to ignore the lethal attacks being done today by Muslim extremists?
Let's take another look at the numbers from the FBI report, and this time we'll ignore the attacks that didn't cause deaths.
Also, why stop at 2005? Isn't that giving away the game, that you're not going to count recent attacks, which would indicate whether Islamist attacks are on the rise?
Counting only lethal incidents, then, and from 1980 to 2014, here are the numbers.
-- Left wing radicals, in two incidents, caused two deaths.
-- Armenian nationalists, in two incidents, caused two deaths.
-- Jewish extremists, in three incidents, caused three deaths.
-- Unknown perpetrators caused five deaths in the anthrax attacks of 2001.
-- Latino nationalists, in seven incidents, caused seven deaths.
-- Right wing radicals, in 13 incidents, caused 192 deaths.
-- Muslim extremists, in 11 incidents, caused 3,003 deaths.
So as much as Obeidallah and Think Progress and others are trying to convince you that the real threat is "Latinos," these numbers would suggest that law enforcement is on to something when they spend resources trying to root out right wing domestic terrorists and Islamists bent on destruction.
Another thing those two groups have in common, besides a high body count: The intoxicating effects of religious fervor. Violence by right wing extremists in the US is steeped in Christian terrorism. And here at Raw Story, at least, when a Christian warrior kills in the name of his religion, we do think it makes sense to challenge Christian moderates to speak up and denounce such acts. We don't think Americans should get blown up by idiots waving either a Bible or a Koran.
Islamic extremism is very real, and no matter what Ben Affleck thinks, it really does have something to do with religion.
In "An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims," the Pakistani-Canadian writer Ali A. Rizvi laid out the problem faced by Islam, which he says is in bad need of reform.
Dissenters in other faiths, he points out, aren't getting killed for offering their opinions...
This is in stark contrast to the Muslim world where, according to a worldwide 2013 Pew Research Study, a majority of people in large Muslim-majority countries like Egypt and Pakistan believe that those who leave the faith must die. They constantly obsess over who is a “real” Muslim and who is not. They are quicker to defend their faith from cartoonists and filmmakers than they are to condemn those committing atrocities in its name…
Islam needs reformers, not moderates. And words like “reform” just don’t go very well with words like “infallibility.”
The purpose of reform is to change things, fix the system, and move it in a new direction. And to fix something, you have to acknowledge that it’s broken — not that it looks broken, or is being falsely portrayed as broken by the wrong people — but that it’s broken. That is your first step to reformation.
Rizvi cites Muslim moderates who are speaking out bravely today about challenging the inerrancy of the Koran. "Maajid Nawaz, a committed Muslim, speaks openly about acknowledging problems in the Quran. Recently, in a brave article right here on The Huffington Post, Imra Nazeer also asked Muslims to reconsider treating the Quran as infallible," Rizvi wrote.
Acknowledging that Islam is broken and badly needs reform isn't going to happen as long as liberal commenters pretend that attacks like the ones in Paris have nothing to do with religion. Or by dishonestly citing studies in a way to make it look like Muslim extremism hardly exists.
Fundamentalist Islam has a problem. And we need to confront it head on.