For the past couple of weeks an image has been popping up on my news feed every now and then – it’s a picture of the KKK and IS and it poses the question as to why it is people think IS represent the entire Islamic community but people don’t think the KKK represent the entirety of Christians. The question assumes that the two faces of Christian and Islamic extremism are the same – if you Google a definition for extremist you get this “a person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.”
The fact is that people do think that a small minority of Christian extremists represent the entirety of the religion – but it isn’t the KKK. It’s the people who pass out the leaflets urging redemption at markets on the weekends or the people who hold up banners with the slogan “God hates Fags.” Replace the picture of the KKK with Sarah Palin or in fact four out of the five politicians running in the Republican primary at the last general election in America and you’ll have hit the nail on the head. Politics, not necessarily in the UK but certainly in the US and in other countries, runs on religion.
The difference between Islamic extremism and Christian extremism, (I’m not closing the debate to these two) is that Christian’s elect their extremists. We put them in suits and give them stylists and support them when they argue that extremism should be wiped out. George W. Bush stood behind his presidential lectern and said we should fight terrorism with terrorism – he demanded the invasion of countries that have populations of innocent people, the same way that extremists kill innocent individuals. Islamic extremists, by virtue of the mess colonialisation and neo colonialisation has made of the Middle East, don’t really have the luxury of earning respectability via elections – the vote is often rigged so that a pro-West candidate is elected or so that the same people stay in power.
This is, by no means, a review of Middle Eastern politics or an analysis of religion. However, people calling for religious tolerance, and most likely those sharing this image, have forgotten that it is also thought that every Christian is represented by the banner carrying members of the Westboro Baptist church. It’s a very curious trait of the left to simultaneously extol the virtues of religious tolerance whilst also condemning the religious. So I’m just asking really that next time you’re calling for religious tolerance, when you’re criticising this culture of Islamophobia – look and see which people you condemned already. Religious tolerance does not belong to one religion, it should belong to all of them – and constantly being intolerant of Christianity, you allow for demonization of any religion. Do not judge an entire religion based on the actions of the few. It’s not okay to tar everyone with the same brush.