by Jay Johansen | Sep 4, 2002
We're approaching the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9-11, and so of course we're seeing the usual media retrospectives.
The people who conducted the terrorist attacks of 9-11 were all members of one religious group: Moslems. And so, over and over in the media, I have seen two interesting points made about this fact:
1. Just because all the attackers were Moslems and claimed to be motivated by their religious beliefs, it would be unfair to blame all Moslems for these actions, or to conclude that this proves that Islam as a religion is responsible for the violence. We certainly should not single out Moslems for suspicion of future acts. That would be prejudice.
2. Because all the attackers were motivated by their religious beliefs, therefore it is fair to conclude that religion is responsible for violence, and all religious people -- including Moslems of course, but here in America we should be especially wary of right-wing Christians -- must share the blame for these actions. We should keep an eye on all religious people, as they are likely to commit similar acts in the future. This is not prejudice.
What is, perhaps, especially ironic about all this is that the Moslem terrorists made very clear that they hated Christians and attacked the United States precisely because it is overwhelmingly Christian. And now the media are telling us that this should lead us to be suspicious of the "Christian right". In other words, American Christians are to be blamed for the actions of their sworn enemies! That's a little like saying that you are so horrified by what the Nazis did that now you don't trust Jews, or that you are so concerned about the problem of environmental pollution that it has led you to hate the Sierra Club.
© 2002 by Jay Johansen