“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.
And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists?
Obviously, there are people who sincerely view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. We Muslims can make the case that their actions are not based on any part of the faith but on their own political agenda. But they are Muslims, no denying that.
However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.
Now, it’s not your fault if you aren’t aware of that fact. You can blame the media. (Yes, Sarah Palin and I actually agree on one thing: The mainstream media sucks.)
So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.
As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.
We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.
Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.
Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.
Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.
Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.
Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.
And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).
In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.
But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.
Honestly, when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities? That doesn’t sell as well. After all we are a so-called Christian nation, so that would require us to look at the enemy within our country, and that makes many uncomfortable. Or worse, it makes them change the channel.
That’s the same reason we don’t see many stories about how to reduce the 30 Americans killed each day by gun violence or the three women per day killed by domestic violence. But the media will have on expert after expert discussing how can we stop these scary brown Muslims from killing any more Americans despite the fact you actually have a better chance of being killed by a refrigerator falling on you.
Look, this article is not going to change the media’s business model. But what I hope it does is cause some to realize that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, they are actually a very small percent of those that are. Now, I’m not saying to ignore the dangers posed by Islamic radicals. I’m just saying look out for those refrigerators.
By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, December 25, 2015
“Rubio’s ‘Pioneer’ Boasts Crumble Under Scrutiny”: In Living Up To His Own Hype, Rubio Has A Lot Of Work To Do
When Marco Rubio recently spoke to the Jewish Republican Coalition’s presidential forum, he joined all of his GOP rivals in saying nice things about Israel. But the Florida Republican went a little further than most, making a specific claim about his state legislative record. The Tampa Bay Times took a closer look.
“As Speaker of the Florida House,” he said, “I pioneered what became a national effort by requiring the Florida pension program to divest from companies linked to Iran’s terrorist regime.”
It was groundbreaking, but Rubio had nothing to do with creation of the legislation.
There was, in fact, a divestment bill that passed Florida’s legislature, but it was written by a Democrat before passing unanimously. Rubio, as the Republican leader in the House, allowed the bill to come to the floor, but he didn’t “pioneer” the policy. He doesn’t appear to have had anything to do with its creation at all.
Whether the Florida Republican was trying to deceive his audience or whether Rubio simply exaggerated the story in his mind is unclear. But errors like these are emblematic of two problems that represent a distraction for the senator’s presidential campaign.
The first is that Rubio, despite his background as a career politician – he won his sixth election the year he turned 40 – has no real accomplishments to his name. This creates an awkward dynamic in which the GOP lawmaker struggles to brag about his own record, and in the case of the Jewish Republican Coalition’s event, it apparently led him to embellish that record with an accomplishment that was not his own.
The second problem is that this is not the first time Rubio delivered a speech in which he flubbed substantive details in a brazenly misleading way. The week before his “pioneering” fib, for example, Rubio misled an audience about the scope of U.S. surveillance powers.
Around the same time, he misstated his record on “killing Obamacare” and misstated some key details about national security. A month prior, Rubio was caught making claims about his economic plan that were simply untrue.
I don’t know whether this is the result of sloppiness, laziness, or a deliberate attempt to mislead, but Rubio wants to be perceived as some kind of wonky expert who not only speaks the truth, but also understands policy matters in great detail.
If he’s going to start living up to his own hype, Rubio has a lot of work to do.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 14, 2015
“The Real Danger In Trump’s Rhetoric”: Hurting America’s Standing With Allies And Helping Recruit More Extremists
September, 2015: “I love the Muslims, I think they’re great people.”
Would he appoint a Muslim to his cabinet? “Oh, absolutely, no problem with that.”
Yes, that was Donald Trump three months ago. Now, his campaign’s Dec. 7 press release states: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This comes in addition to his calls for surveillance against mosques and the possible creation of a national database of Muslims in the U.S.
Many of the Republican candidates for president have not hesitated to echo Trump’s bellicose rhetoric on immigration or other anti-Muslim statements. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz even introduced legislation to keep refugees from coming to the U.S. for at least three years who are from countries where there is a “substantial” amount of control by the Islamic State group or al-Qaida.
But, now, they seem to have had enough: Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump is “unhinged”; Ohio Gov. John Kasich condemned Trump’s “outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath”; former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore called it “fascist talk”; Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted “every candidate for president needs to do the right thing & condemn” Trump; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said “we do not need to resort to that type of activity.”
Even Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney said, “I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from. A lot of people, my ancestors got here, because they were Puritans.”
But the real danger of Trump’s rhetoric and policies is not domestic or political here at home – though one can argue that it makes us less safe and more vulnerable – it is from our friends and allies abroad.
Here is what the French prime minister tweeted: “Mr. Trump, like others, strokes hatred; our ONLY enemy is radical Islamism.” A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron called the remarks “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong … what politicians need to do is to look at ways they can bring communities together and make clear that these terrorists are not representative of Islam and indeed what they are doing is a perversion of Islam.”
A columnist for Israel’s Haaretz wrote: “For some Jews, the sight of thousands of supporters waving their fists in anger as Trump incited against Muslims and urged a blanket ban on their entry to the United States could have evoked associations with beer halls in Munich a century ago.” In Pakistan it was called “the worst kind of bigotry mixed with ignorance” by a leading human rights activist.
Trump’s ban would even include world leaders who are Muslim. They would not be allowed into the United States, let alone tourists or relatives of Americans or world renowned individuals coming for a scientific meeting here.
Just like his plan to deport 12 million people, the absurdity is readily apparent. But put yourself in the shoes of of one of the 1.7 billion people across the globe who is a Muslim, 23 percent of the world’s population; you are watching the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States making these statements.
How many recruits will the Islamic State group gain from Trump’s move toward fascism? How confused will young, angry, poor Muslims in the war-torn Middle East be, and how many Muslims will believe “successful” Donald Trump represents American thought and values and our approach to the world?
How long will it take for us to undo this damage? How many years? What price will we pay?
Those may be the scariest questions of all.
By: Peter Fenn, Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, December 9, 2015
“Another Inconvenient Truth For The GOP”: How Will 2016 Republicans Lead A World That Largely Agrees With Obama?
The 14 Republicans running for president can’t decide if Russian President Vladimir Putin is a great leader or a dangerous and despicable “gangster” and “KGB thug,” but they all agree on one thing: President Obama couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag.
When discussing Obama’s foreign policy, they routinely rely on words like “feckless” and “weak” and “indecisive,” arguing that this alleged lack of spine has left the U.S. where “our friends no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us.” They all say that any of them — Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Ben Carson — would be better able to lead the world than Obama or any of the Democrats running to replace him. Even Jeb Bush, who appears to despise Trump, said Sunday he would support him in the general election “because anybody is better than Hillary Clinton. Let me just be clear about that.”
Here’s the thing: On just about every major topic in world affairs, Obama is more closely aligned with America’s major allies than any of the Republican candidates. Either the Republicans are in denial about this inconvenient truth or they have a plan to work around it. If they do, I for one would love to hear it.
Let’s start with climate change, since all major world leaders — America’s friends, foes, and those the U.S. has a complicated relationship with — gathered in Paris last week to discuss not whether climate change is real but what hard decisions need to be made to address it. Obama worked toward this summit, which ends later this week, for years, talking with world leaders one-on-one and setting up the U.S. emissions cuts. It’s frankly hard to imagine any of the Republican presidential candidates even attending COP21.
Frontrunner Trump has called climate change a “hoax,” and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), rapidly rising to runner-up status, accuses U.S. climate scientists of “cooking the books” and espousing “pseudoscientific” theories on human-influenced global warming. Even the GOP candidates who do believe that humanity is adversely affecting the climate say they don’t think that’s a big deal or don’t believe the government can or should do much about it. And even if one of those candidate open to the idea of addressing climate change is elected, he will still lead a party that is opposed to any such action.
There are different ideas on how to best reduce carbon emissions, but the GOP’s indifference to or denial of climate change would put it on the lunatic fringe in America’s closest allied nations. In a recent study, Sondre Båtstrand at Norway’s University of Bergen examined the policy platforms of the main conservative party in nine countries — the U.S., U.K., Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany — and found that “the U.S. Republican Party is an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.” (The article is behind a paywall, but you can read a summary at The Guardian, or Jonathan Chait’s more opinionated synopsis at New York.)
The GOP is so out-of-step with the rest of the world on climate change that one of the big hurdles to a global climate agreement is the expectation that the Republican-controlled Congress won’t ratify a legally binding treaty. Obama insists that parts of the deal will be binding under international law, but proponents of an effective climate pact are concerned that GOP opposition will leave it toothless. Other countries, The Associated Press reports, are annoyed that the world is “expected to adjust the agreement to the political situation in one country.”
Let’s turn to Syria, a country where the world only really agrees on one thing: The Islamic State must be defeated. This is one area, broadly, where Obama and the GOP candidates agree, though they differ on the best way to defeat ISIS. Jeb Bush, like Turkey, wants a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, and Trump wants Russia to wipe out ISIS for everyone else. But most countries, and certainly most U.S. allies, favor bombing ISIS in Syria and helping local militias fight them on the ground, something Obama was the first to initiate.
Russia has committed ground troops (as has the U.S., to a very limited degree, just recently), but Russian forces are mainly propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A few of the Republicans, like Cruz, support leaving Assad in power, a position held mostly by Russia and Iran. European allies, Israel, the Gulf Arab states, and Turkey agree with Obama that Assad must go.
When it comes to refugees from the Syrian mess, the GOP field is unified against accepting any in the U.S. Among U.S. allies, Obama is on the stingy side, but his pledge to take in 10,000 refugees in 2016 still puts him closer to Canada, taking in 10,000 this month alone; France — the site of the terrorist attack that prompted the Republican refugee retreat — which has vowed to take in 30,000 over the next two years; and Germany, signed on to accept 500,000 asylum-seekers.
On Cuba, the U.S. diplomatic freeze and economic embargo has put the U.S. at odds with Europe and the overwhelming majority of Latin America for years. All but two Republican candidates — Trump and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — oppose Obama’s Cuba thaw. Only three of the 14 candidates — Bush, Paul, and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) — aren’t totally against the Iran nuclear deal Obama’s team negotiated with not just U.S. allies Britain, France, and Germany, but also China, Russia, and Iran.
For what its worth, the world thinks highly of Obama’s leadership, according to a Gallup poll of 134 countries — the U.S. got top leadership marks in 2014, as it has every year since a low point in 2008. Still, the Iran deal is a good prompt to note that not every U.S. ally hews closer to Obama than the GOP on foreign policy.
Israel and Saudi Arabia, for example, oppose the Iran accord, and Israel’s conservative government neither likes nor trusts Obama. But here again, Obama’s hard line against new Israeli settlements is closer to the world consensus than the GOP’s unwavering allegiance — as is evident from every United Nations vote in favor of the Palestinians and every lone U.S. veto in U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning some Israeli military action in the Palestinian territories.
And Obama has certainly made mistakes, which Republicans are right to call him out on. Drawing a figurative “red line” in Syria and then failing to enforce it, even when it became clear Congress wouldn’t support him? Obama would probably take that back if he could. Libya? The U.S. followed France, Britain, and the Arab League into that intervention, but it was Obama’s decision to commit U.S. air and sea assets to the fight and wrangle U.N. approval. “Leading from behind” — the most enduring phrase (coined by an anonymous Obama adviser) from the Libya campaign — is a questionable idea of leadership.
The Republican presidential candidates may talk about the U.S. leading with its freedom beacon, or its values, or the example of its raw exceptionalism, but when they get down to specifics, they really only talk about raw power, usually of the military or theatrical variety. A president has to make tough calls, and when you’re the leader of the world’s sole superpower, those decisions have very real, potentially catastrophic consequences.
Most of Obama’s big foreign policy victories — the Russian nuke-reduction treaty, the Iran nuclear deal, the Cuba thaw, perhaps a COP21 accord — have been off the battlefield, and he’s probably not unhappy about it. All of those have involved finding common ground with at least one hostile country, and Obama has been the driving force behind all of them. “Your credibility and America’s ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about,” Obama told reporters in Paris on Tuesday. He was talking about climate change, but it could just as well be a guiding policy.
That may not be the kind of global stewardship Republicans are talking about when they talk about leadership. But if they want to win the right to lead the United States, they should explain how their White House would lead a world in which, on just about every major issue, the U.S. president is the odd man out.
By: Peter Weber, The Week, December 7, 2015
Just over a year after giving Middle Eastern Christians advice that could have put them in danger, Sen. Ted Cruz has announced Syrian Christian refugees are not a threat and should be first in line to enter the U.S.
And some of his old critics say that’s a long-overdue change in tone.
On Sept. 10, 2014, Cruz headed to the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington to speak at the gala for a conference called “In Defense of Christians,” which brought together Christian leaders from throughout the Middle East to highlight the brutal persecution their congregants faced at the hands of the Islamic State.
The fact Cruz was speaking there at all caused waves in the conservative Beltway press. It started when the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier that day that some of the conference’s speakers and attendees had controversial affiliations; one speaker had previously defended Hezbollah, and another—years earlier—had touted a conspiracy theory about “Christians with Zionist orientations.”
Despite the bad press, Cruz took the stage that evening and launched into a speech, saying that everyone present was united by their commitment to defending persecuted Christians and Jews. He criticized ISIS, Hamas, al Qaeda, and Hezbollah, all to applause. But then he started talking about Israel.
“Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish state,” he said, to a mixture of boos and applause. “Let me say this, those who hate Israel, hates America.”
A mixture of boos and applause followed.
“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, I will not stand with you,” he concluded, exiting the stage.
The next day, Cruz doubled down, defending his decision to walk out on the group. He even gave a statement to Breitbart saying the evening “deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred.”
“[B]igotry and hatred have no place in this discussion,” he continued in that statement. “Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight.”
Breitbart’s initial headline of one story even implied the event’s attendees weren’t really Christians.
The event’s organizers—who brought together a historic group of Christian leaders at a moment when their communities faced (and still face) genocide—weren’t impressed.
“He came to a summit in defense of Christians and actually endangered Christian lives,” said the group’s executive director, Andrew Doran, according to the National Catholic Register.
Doran noted to the paper that “standing with Israel”—as Cruz demanded that event attendees do—can make already-vulnerable Christians top targets for Islamist extremists. And in the case of the Syrian civil war, Christian bishops have pushed for their flocks to stay neutral. Middle Eastern geopolitics make for happy hour chit-chat in Washington; for Christians in that region, though, those stances are sometimes matters of life or death.
“People had come here trusting us not to put their lives in danger,” Doran continued to the paper. “People had come here for the sake of unity, and for politicians to take advantage of this for their own agenda is absolutely disgraceful.”
So while Cruz has apologized to conservative political pundits, he has never expressed remorse for demanding that attendees applaud Israel or for characterizing them as hateful bigots.
Since launching his presidential campaign, though, event organizers say Cruz’s tone has changed. In particular, they point to comments he made on Sunday about Syrian Christians.
“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz said at a recent campaign stop in South Carolina, arguing that the U.S. should admit Christian refugees but not Muslim ones.
That particular debate arose in the wake of the terror attacks on Paris, as one of the shooters entered France by pretending to be a refugee.
“If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation,” he continued. “But it is precisely the Obama administration’s unwillingness to recognize that or ask those questions that makes them so unable to fight this enemy. Because they pretend as if there is no religious aspect to this.”
An adviser to the In Defense of Christians group told The Daily Beast that this new approach represents a change in tone for the senator, and a welcome one at that.
“Senator Cruz took an unfortunate posture at last year’s IDC Summit considering the lives of some in the room were imperiled by what he said, and since some of the attendees were recent survivors of the invasion by Daesh, and others had lost family members to Daesh,” the advisor said.
“That said, we are pleased to now see Senator Cruz offer more thoughtful and constructive comments to improve, rather than imperil the Christians of the Middle East who seem to be forgotten when it comes to the soundness of the strategies and tactics to defeat Daesh, on the matters of refugee status, and qualifying Middle East Christians as victims of a genocide,” he continued.
Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Cruz’s campaign, strongly disagreed that the senator’s tone on Middle Eastern Christians has changed.
“Cruz rightly spoke against those who loudly booed his support for Israel,” she said. “The entire purpose of the dinner, of which he was a keynote, was to support persecuted Christians in the Middle East, a cause for which he has consistently and strongly supported. I completely disagree with any assertion that he has changed his ‘tone.’”
Does Ted Cruz talk differently about marginalized populations depending on who’s listening—defending their integrity when it’s convenient and characterizing them as hateful bigots when needed? You decide.
By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, November 18, 2015