On Tuesday, an apparent Islamist terrorist rammed a truck into dozens of Americans on a bike path in New York City, killing eight and injuring over ten. He popped out of the truck shouting “Allahu Akhbar” before being captured by police.
Imagine that a white supremacist had driven a truck onto a bike path filled with minority innocents, killing eight of them. Imagine that the white supremacist had emerged from his truck carrying aloft a Confederate flag.
Imagine that the media had leapt to the defense of those flying the Confederate flag, explaining that only a tiny minority of those who did so had engaged in any sort of racist violence. Imagine that all of America’s major political leaders said the same, and told those who connected the terrorism with the Confederate flag that their viewpoints represented bigotry. Imagine, too, that CNN ran a chyron reading “WITNESSES: SUSPECT WAS CARRYING SOUTHERN VERSION OF AMERICAN FLAG,” and then hosted panels assuring audiences that the Confederate flag was simply a symbol of Southern pride.
Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Yet that was precisely the chain of events that took place after yet another Islamist terror attack on American soil. Leftist media darling and terrorist-sympathizer Linda Sarsour tweeted, “Every believing Muslim says Allahu Akbar every day during prayers. We cannot criminalize ‘God is great.’ Prosecute the criminal not a faith.” The media did its typical rush to prevent cruel Americans from engaging in “Islamophobia,” expressing that radical Islamic terrorism had no connection to actual Islam. Most of America’s political leaders quickly agreed. CNN ran a chyron reading, “WITNESSES: SUSPECT WAS YELLING ‘GOD IS GREAT’ IN ARABIC.”
Precisely the reverse takes place after white supremacist terror attacks, of course. When white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof committed a massive terror attack on a black church, the media quickly uncovered photos of him with a Confederate flag, and led a month-long discussion on whether the Confederate flag ought to be banned from public places. When a white supremacist in Charlottesville murdered an innocent woman, the media held a month-long discussion on whether Confederate statues ought to be removed. This week, a Latino interest group ran an ad attempting to connect a Republican gubernatorial candidate with a white supremacist march he had openly condemned, and created an ad showing a Confederate flag-flying white supremacist with that candidate’s bumper sticker attempting to run down minority children.
Now, we can have solid discussions about Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag. Those discussions are worthwhile. But why is that we leap to discuss those issues when a white supremacist terrorist kills innocents, but we leap to defend Islam when an Islamist kills innocents? Why the difference? Isn’t radical Islam just as horrifying as white supremacism? And isn’t white supremacism just as statistically non-representative of Confederate flag-owners throughout the South as radical Islam is of observant Muslims across the country?
The answer lies in a serious problem of bias. The media believe that Americans, by and large, are racist Islamophobes. They are the problem. They’re the problem if perpetrators are Muslim, in which case the backlash from non-Muslim Americans must be pre-emptively curbed; they’re the problem if the perpetrators are white supremacists, in which case Americans must answer for their supposed connections to white supremacism.
That’s nonsense. If we’re going to start attributing terrorist ideologies to broader movements, we’re going to have to abide by that rule across the board; if, by contrast, we’re going to distinguish terrorist ideologies from other ideologies, let’s do that across the board. But you can’t connect white supremacism to Ed Gillespie and Confederate flag-owners while adamantly disconnecting Islamism from Islam. That’s intellectually dishonest. Actually, it's disparaging of non-Muslim Americans more generally, unless there’s a deeper connection between white supremacism and Confederate flag-owning or conservative voting than there is between Islamism and Islam. Which there isn’t.