Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Many Faces of Extremism

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, and what happened there today is a reminder that the victims of violent extremists acting in the name of Islam are often Muslims. Yet many here in this country would have us believe that simply calling these extremist groups “radical Islam” is somehow an important step in addressing the problem. But that will only marginalize those who identify as Muslim, and Muslims are the primary victims of these extremists. There are those who would have us drop bombs indiscriminately “over there” as if that will eradicate the extremists. That would only result in the deaths of innocent people, and we would become no better than the terrorists. Terrorizing and marginalizing innocent people pushes them toward extremism, thus exacerbating the problem, not helping it.

The primary proponents of this simplistic approach—let’s blame them, those people other there, those radical Islamists—want us to turn a blind eye toward the extremism in our own midst. It appears the killer in Orlando was only tangentially associated with ISIS. He was an American, he was born here, and he was raised by a father who taught him to be homophobic, just as many Christian parents teach their children. All across this country, Republican politicians propose one anti-LGBT bill after another. The massacre in Orlando followed a season in which Republican lawmakers never stopped spreading fear of trans people in bathrooms. And for decades, they have been courting the votes of Christian extremists who never stop claiming we are worthy of death and that LGBTs are out to harm and recruit children, destroy the family and civilization.

The problem isn’t “out there” or “over there.” It isn’t contained within one particular group of people, one religion or one region of the world. The problem is hate caused by fear and a lust for power. It is a human failing, and we are all subject to it.

Lucas Parisi

Lucky Blue Smith

Joe Martinez

Ambo Mendy

by Konrad Helbig


Bo Dixon and Others