01.12.2016 09:28 AM

Killing in God’s name

The familiar refrain of the Right goes something like this: “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” It’s become ubiquitous enough that you can find it on T-shirts and bumper stickers.

A more intellectualized version of that is found in this Wall Street Journal column, by a member of that paper’s editorial board. Quote:

The mayor’s comments, so bizarre in their determined denial of the deluge of facts delivered by top police officials standing next to him, were, nonetheless, familiar enough. Americans have learned to expect, after every Islamist terror attack, lectures instructing them that such assaults should in no way be connected to Islamic faith of any kind.

If the writer was being fair, she would have acknowledged that there is a good reason for that: attributing every act of terror to an entire religion simply (a) angers and alienates adherents of that religion, the overwhelmingly majority of whom are obviously not terrorists and (b) drives some of those angry and alienated adherents into the arms of ISIS and al-Qaeda and the like, who are delighted that conservative xenophobes have volunteered to do their recruitment for them. Gratis.

Personally, I still find all of this astonishing. I find it amazing that so many have forgotten what they learned in History 101. That is, every religion always has within its ranks a few extremists or lunatics who will always pervert its scriptures to hateful and murderous ends.

I should know, I guess. I wrote two entire books about the subject. In one of them, Web of Hate, I chronicled the crimes of a gang of terrorists who carried out the biggest armed robbery in US history; who carried out multiple assassinations and bombings; who inspired the single biggest act of domestic terrorism in US history – the murder of nearly 170 men, women and children in Oklahoma City in 1994.

All of the members of that group, called The Order, belonged to a religion. It called itself Christian Identity.

After each of The Order’s crimes – and there were many – no newspaper editorialists called on all Christians to condemn Christian Identity. No politicians warned against the perils associated with admitting Christian refugees to America. No Christian babies were placed on no-fly lists because their name happened to be similar to someone else’s. No aspiring presidential candidates demanded that a wall be erected to prevent Christians from getting into North America.

The point, I guess, is that every religion has its assholes. Every religion has its killers. We Christians have ours, and the Muslims do, too.

All of this seems blindingly obvious to most people, of course. Most people are sensible and fair, and know that unfair generalizations almost always lead to trouble. All of this is common sense.

Unless they happen to write editorials for the Wall Street Journal, that is.


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    Joan says:

    Gee, Warren, I dunno. You are right about your central thesis, of course. There are nutters in not only all religions but in all demographics. But I disagree that that is blindingly obvious to most.

    And I’m not sure it doesn’t miss the point. Over the past couple of decades, we hear daily of atrocities committed in the name of Islam. Were we daily told stories about persecutions in the Central African Republic, we might see things differently but we aren’t. I think a lot of people, maybe even most, harbour suspicion toward Muslims they don’t know. Maybe even against Muslim neighbours with whom they are fairly well acquainted or against Muslims in their own families.

    I wish media would focus on the criminality of terrorist attacks instead of the oft-claimed religious motivation. I simply don’t believe religion motivates Islamic terrorists to drink and smoke on the mercenary terrorist front especially on the eve of attacks. They use religion as an excuse to commit atrocity, not an incentive. Many view the crime involved as a job. Just like the mob views its jobs.

    Bin Laden’s legacy is the increasingly co-ordinated “loose” global network of criminal organization. Street gangs work with bikers who contract for mob who do business with terrorists, corporations, families and governments. It is the global organization of crime that threatens humanity. And, tragically, humanity’s ignorance of that fact.

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    smelter rat says:

    You’re really going to like Wente’s latest screed, I imagine.

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    Peter says:

    The point, I guess, is that every religion has its assholes. Every religion has its killers. We Christians have ours, and the Muslims do, too.

    True, especially if your frame of reference is the grand sweep of history rather than the here and now. Through that lens, it’s true about pretty much all non-religious creeds too. But something tells me that if Islamist terrorism over the past twenty years was largely restricted to McVey-type losers committing sporadic, uncoordinated, poorly-funded, universally-condemned and quickly-sanctioned outrages, we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    I’ve learned to roll my eyes when politicians respond to terror attacks by proclaiming the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc. etc. etc. are all “cowards”. Not sure dismissing them as assholes advances things much.

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    Lyndon Dunkley says:

    Let’s go to 100 churches around the world and ask 1000 self-identified Christians if the actions of McVeigh, Roof or Breivik exemplify their understanding of Christianity and accurately represent the will of their God.

    Now let’s go to 100 mosques around the world and ask 1000 self identified Muslims if the events involving 9/11, Paris, or the USS Cole exemplify the understanding of Islam and accurately represent the will of their God.

    I would suggest one would struggle to get to 1% on the first question whereas similar polling for the second question points to a minimum support of 10% and likely a significantly higher percentage depending on the location of the mosque.

    And therein lies the problem – what to do when a minority percentage-wise but a relatively large number in actual people implicitly consent to the actions of the abhorrent few?

    (And before anyone replies Westboro Baptist, that may be one the best examples of the largely nonsensical phrase “the exception that proves the rule”.)

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      BillBC says:

      You are right. Warren says “The point, I guess, is that every religion has its assholes. Every religion has its killers. We Christians have ours, and the Muslims do, too.” And of course, Warren is right too, but the point you make is this: different religions seem to have different percentages of killers. With Christians, it’s vanishingly small, but with Muslims, it seems to be larger. Are there Christian armies currently slaughtering people in the name of God? Are there Muslim armies currently slaughtering people in the name of Allah? The questions answer themselves. This seems “blindingly obvious” to you and to me, but apparently it isn’t to liberal/progressives, and that’s a serious problem….

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    nobonus4nonis says:

    i’ve got a custom built rocket got it aimed at the moon
    cause i don’t understand the other kind
    that fall on the ground and go boom

    you’re welcome to come if you want to
    gonna be a hell of a ride
    as long as you understand
    ain’t no-one has God on their side


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    Steve T says:

    The only way in which the Christian-Muslim parallel makes sense is if (a) you ignore the total human death toll, or (b) you cast the lens back hundreds if not thousands of years. The latter is a bit of a fools game, given that you can always pick a range of dates that favors one group versus another. A better approach is to look at the current situation, in a reasonable measure of recent history, especially if the goal is to fix the problem. Talking about the Crusades doesn’t help much.

    The scale of murders (or attempted murders) in the past few decades by those who profess to be doing it in the name of Islam is hundreds (if not thousands) of times greater than those professing to do it in the name of Christianity. Furthermore, as others have noted, there is a significant amount of state-sponsored Islamic terrorism (or terrorism done in the name of Islam), and/or countries turning a blind eye to mosques in which the Imam is teaching radicalization and hatred.

    I think that is the main point of those who write editorials such as the WSJ article. It is frustrating when there seems to be far more interest in defending Islam (by Muslims and non-Muslims alike) than in identifying the root causes of radicalization and being honest about the central theme to much of it.

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    Ezra the Troll says:

    I wont say fuck you this time.
    I am not a hater. I see facts as their are.

    Yes every religion/race/culture has its killers… But proportion matters.
    For example, blacks who are 13% of USA population commit 50% of murder in USA. Sorry but this over-representation matters. Pointing that out can’t be racist.

    Same with Islam.

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      JamesHalifax says:

      I agree that blacks make up the disproportionate number of murderers and violent criminals in the United states……

      but they also make up a disproportionate number of the poor and disenfranchised as well.

      (that doesn’t mean I think they should be let off lightly if they commit crimes….throw them in jail…, I’m only pointing out that reducing the poverty in the inner city and increasing education would be very beneficial in reducing the chances kids would get into trouble. Oh, and changing the culture of out of control childbirth out of wedlock would help too)

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    Darren H says:

    None of these groups can hold a candle to Atheist mass-murderers. Stalin, Mao…

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    JamesHalifax says:


    there have been 452 suicide bomber attacks in the last year, and of these, 451 were committed by Muslim’s.

    You are correct that every religion has its “nutters” but it is also true that those Nutters of Islam, have a far greater body count than all others combined.

    Political correctness defined: “The ability to not notice the obvious”

    Warren, the RELIGION of ISLAM produces more terrorists tahn any other religion. Those who kill or commit terrorism in the name of religion, are almost exclusively of the Muslim variety. This is an undeniable fact, but apparently, in Liberal and progressive circles, it is also an unspeakable fact.

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      doconnor says:

      Does this justify discrimination against all Muslims?

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        Peter says:

        Nice deflection to a proposition no one is arguing. You know, I cannot imagine an anthropologist or sociologist arguing that all tribes or cultures or communities are equally violent or peaceful or whatever. Yet on this issue we hear the cultural equivalency line over and over. What it means is that progressives have to face the fact that reality is challenging one of your most cherished shibboleths and you will have to decide whether you’re going to go with your faith or reality.

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          doconnor says:

          I don’t deny the rate of terrorism is is higher among Muslims then Christians, but it is low percentage in both cases. We emphasize the fact Christians are no different in the long run because we are trying to resist the human tribalism instinct.

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            Peter says:

            I’m sure a public worried about security and women’s rights will take great comfort in knowing you are focused on “the long run”.

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            JamesHalifax says:


            YOu are exactly the type of person I was referring to when I described political correctness as the ability of not noticing the obvious.

            What is obvious, however, is your attempt to try and make yourself look “super fair minded” and “progressive” by comparing Christianity’s adherents on par with Islam’s adherents when it comes to the propensity to commit violence and terror.

            In case you missed it, the debate is not about the number of Muslim’s who commit terrorist acts (though, it is almost exclusively Muslim’s who commit terrorism), the debate is about the number of terrorist acts committed by Muslim’s.

            Try and find a comparison. Google Terrorism…and see how many cases of Muslim terrorism you can find, as opposed to Christian terrorism.

            You’re attempts to look holier than though, or more fair minded than the great unwashed, has failed miserably. You just look like a fool who can’t see the obvious. And guess what doconnor….most people see things my way; as I’m sure you are aware. In fact, I suspect you feel the same way I do…..but would never be able to admit it in public.

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    dean sherratt says:

    Well a fellow waiting outside an Anglican Church is going to be bored to death far earlier than he might be killed in a frenzy of violence.

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    MikeTO says:

    These theoretical musings are interesting in an abstract way, but ignore fundamentals of human nature – we are tribal. Now a country that has enjoyed 200 years or relative peace, inhabited by two cousin tribes (Anglos and French) decides to bring into the fold countless other unrelated tribes. Many blend in amicably, some pose a problem that is difficult to asses for what it is (see housing and Chinese enclaves in Vancouver area) some pose a visceral threat – violence and will to subjugate. As much as I enjoy the abstract thinking, we need to have perspectives on the tribal angle. History of tribes living in close quarters and pursuing the same resources usually ends in blood. How can we do it different this time?

    PS. Politicians that talk “tribal” currently have the numbers to show people’s receptiveness to this framing. This aspect of our nature can’t be swept aside as a retrograde vestige.

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    JamesHalifax says:

    It isn’t so much the “tribe” that is the danger, insomuch as it is the culture.

    countries which a predominately Muslim population are clearly not in tune with modern Western Values when it comes to women, gays, freedom, etc. If you import people who come from a culture that has not evolved beyond the 7th Century…you get things like what happened in cologne. Why are people acting surprised?

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      doconnor says:

      What is your alternative? Ban all Muslim immigration and leave them to die or get radicalized in Syria?

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        MikeTO says:

        During the French revolution, did the Ottomans fret about how they could help the masses suffering under Robespierre’s reign of terror? Imagine if they brought 1m French “refugees” into their lands. Would the new arrivals assimilate and bow to the Sultan and Mhmd? Or, would their identity as French and Catholic create an ever fractious sect, rejecting many local values and customs? I would bet on the latter, as people don’t easily abandon their core identity, nor should they. The end result would be conflict and blood. That said, many French refugees did find an easy fit in Quebec.

        We have to respect the lessons of history, even if they counter our optimistic thinking. People have to solve problems in their regions on their own. Importing large chunks of unrelated cultures creates problems for future generation. I am reluctant to leave my children a country rife with sectarian division and violence. See; Lebanon, Kosovo, Chechnya, Rwanda, Sudan etc…etc So I guess I support your proposed alternative.

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          doconnor says:

          Maybe you should look at the history of Canada where people from all over the world, many of them refugees, have been coming in continuously for 200 years.

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            MikeTO says:

            I think you are proving my point. In the first 160 of the last 200 years the people coming into Canada have been “brothers” (English, Irish, Scott and Welsh) and “cousins” (French and Germans). At the turn of the century more distant “cousins” (Poles, Ukrainians, Italians, Jews) came. All these people’s cultures are related and historically interwoven. I should point out the Chinese that arrived in the early 20th century were an exception, but they were often treated badly. Over the last 40 years tall foreheads decided to import large numbers of people unrelated to the existing stock, with less and sometimes little shared values, cultures and history. Many will assimilate, but many, I think, will not want to lose key aspects of their identity (religion and culture) even if it conflicts with the founding Canadian values. Will we be the exception to history, and competing tribes will manage to live in peace? Maybe. IMO; prepare, and be ready for the alternative as the sentimentalists in power will take this country to a point where the natural correction will likely NOT be a “soft landing”.

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        Peter says:

        doconnor, by repeatedly trying to pin those who disagree with you into an intolerant, nativist position in the face of things like Paris, Cologne and almost daily reports of this kind of thing, you are fueling that which you claim to oppose. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe this can all be blamed on something “inherent” in Islam or we should ban all immigration. I’m tired of the war of simplicities. What we appear to be faced with is a confluence of a very ascetic, violent, socially regressive sect that has attained political power backed by huge amounts of money in the context of a bloody and bitter schism. Unfortunately and inexplicably to Westerners, it’s appeal is growing, along with a gargantuan sense of grievance against all things Western. Self-reflection and self-criticism seem to be in short supply in the Middle East. I think there is an underlying shrewdness to Canada’s refugee policy, but Germany’s taking in a million, 70% of whom are apparently young single men, was crazy and the rise of the ugly right completely foreseeable.

        If you and the left are going to simply blow away legitimate fears and concerns in the face of real threats in real time, suggest blithely they are all born of racism, refuse to confront difficult choices and serve up predictable pabulum about this could all just as easily been the work of Christians or Buddhists or Baha’i (or it’s all the West’s fault–Abdul is just so upset about Western foreign policy he is driven to rape and behead), don’t be surprised if the public concludes you really aren’t interested in their safety and security and they should look elsewhere, leaving you (pl.) to celebrate your virtue and purity in declining numbers.

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          doconnor says:

          Peter and JamesHalifax posted comments many times to reemphasize that most terrorists are Muslim without presenting any actual solutions, it seemed to me you where implying that discrimination was your solution.

          A lot of innocent people will die in the fight against ISIS, most of them in Syria and Iraq where they won’t receive daily front page coverage. Helping as many as possible escape will save a lot more lives then it will cost us.

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            JamesHalifax says:


            You are truly a prime example of today’s “progressives”

            surrounded by evidence, and yet maintaining the ability to completely ignore it.

            Stating the obvious is not discrimination….it is being discriminating. If muslims are causing a problem, then perhaps the best solution is the most obvious. Stop letting most of them in. Focus on the most persecutred from Muslim naitons (namely the Christians or secular). there are enough Muslim nations in the middle east…let them look after their neighbours.

            It is not the politically correct solution, but cleary it is the best one. Which is also why I’m sure you will not recognize the logic of it; but simply insist on calling those you disagree with as bigots, or heartless..yadda..yadda….

            by the way..I’m sure many of the women of Cologne would now agree with me, whereas a month ago they would have agreed with you. It is amazing how quickly reality can change one’s mind.

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            doconnor says:

            “If muslims are causing a problem”

            Some people who are Muslim are causing a problem.

            If the women of Cologne went visited the refugees in Jordan or toured an ISIS occupied town in Iraq, maybe they would change their minds again.

            I’ll leave it to readers to judge how racist JamesHalfax’s proposed solutions are.

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            JamesHalifax says:


            the very fact you can still manage to ignore the obvious is a testament to your “Liberal” credentials.

            Please ensure that if you ever travel anywhere that is not a Western country……you don’t take your wife. I say this out of concern for her safety, as I am positive you wouldn’t have the sense to consider the risk to her safety…being all progressive and such

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    brownie says:

    These are some garbage replies you have here on this post my friend. My thoughts are with you.

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