Muslim Outrage

The theme of the month seems to be to tell Muslims what they need to do to—what? Please Tom Friedman and Tom Teepen? I guess someone at the Oregonian doesn’t think that idea’s been pushed enough.

The Oregonian has at least two similar opinion pieces—an earlier piece by Tom Friedman and one today by Tom Teepen—telling Muslims that they should be more condemnatory of terrorist violence. Never mind the fact that there have been hundreds of such condemnations reported in the press around the world, never mind that most of the victims of such violence in places like Iraq are themselves Muslims. It’s not enough for the two Toms or their ilk.

Well I’ve got news for them. Condemnation—even near-universal condemnation—doesn’t make bad things go away. When was the last time you heard anyone saying anything less than critical about child pornography, for instance? Has it disappeared? Murder’s pretty universally condemned. Has it stopped? Domestic abuse? Drunk driving? Racism may be less acceptable in 21st-century America, but it’s not gone.

For Teepen and Friedman to say that Muslims should be “competing to turn in the most suspects the fastest” to prove which of them are the “best” Muslims is ludicrous. A suicide bomber only has to cover up their activities and plans for a short period of time; people who sexually abuse their own children and serial murderers can often hide their activities from their spouses and other family for years.

Yes, Muslims should condemn terrorism, but people have to stop pretending that that isn’t already happening or that it would solve the problem. There are always going to be people like Timothy McVeigh whose primary contacts are with sympathizers. There are always going to be people like Eric Rudolph, who—even after being identified as a terrorist bomber—can hide out in the hills with support from religious extremists. We need to be prepared for attacks from a variety of fronts. We need the cooperation of all communities—not just Muslims—because murderous extremists can come from anywhere. It took forty years to bring Edgar Killen to justice in Mississippi. And sometimes we’ll have to deal with the fact that they can’t be stopped beforehand.