Brace for more stupid, unwarranted Islamophobia

Mark my words: Mainstream media pundits will make a big deal out of the fact that the gunman in Ottowa today was a Muslim. In fact, they usually only use the word “terrorist” when the perpetrator was a Muslim.

That’s sad, because most terrorists aren’t actually Muslim. In fact, between 9/11 and 2012, only 33 of the more than 300 Americans killed by terrorist acts died at the hands of Muslims. I don’t want to downplay that number, but consider that more than 180,000 Americans were murdered during this time for reasons unrelated to terrorism, or that the Virginia Tech shooter alone killed 32—just one less person.

I also notice a tendency among media pundits to blame Islam when a criminal is Muslim like they blame guns when a criminal is either insane or has no obvious motive. Many accept the first tendency yet decry the second by pointing out that only a minuscule fraction of guns are used to kill innocent people. But we can’t have our cake and eat it, too. If blaming guns is wrong because guns are almost always used responsibly, then blaming Islam must also be wrong because Muslims are almost always not terrorists.

No matter what anyone tells you about the “inherent violence of Islam” or Muslims’ tendency toward terrorism against Western targets, remember that more than seven million Muslims live in the United States today who have never committed a terrorist act. These people live in our neighborhoods. Their children go to our schools. They work at our banks, our pools, our grocery stores, our city halls. Saying Islam is inherently violent is like saying driving is safer than flying–it’s simply false, based entirely on ‘gut feeling’ and not on real-world data.

I don’t want to defend Islam. I’m not a Muslim. I think Muslims are wrong. I hate the way many of them treat women. But I also hate false information–especially when it leads to unwarranted fear.