“Why don’t Muslims protest against ISIS?” and other idiotic questions

It’s exceedingly rare that I stray into politics here, or on any public forum, for that matter — you know what they say about sleeping with dogs — but a few comments I’ve seen online the last few days have caused my knee to jerk. Need to get this out of my system.

In the wake of the horrific attack in Orlando, Florida, the conversation looks much the same as it does every time there is a mass shooting. The same debate about guns. The same debate about rights. The same endless talking in circles. The same reductive, mindless repetition of the same thoughtless, meme-driven arguments by people on all sides. It’s incredibly tiresome, especially when the ground is stained with the blood of innocent people.

And since in this case the perpetrator was a Muslim man who allegedly sympathized with ISIS, we also see the same cries of, “Why don’t Muslims speak out against terrorism?” that accompany any violent act by a Muslim. For the purposes of this post, let’s set aside the fact that we don’t ask these same questions when a Christian shoots up a Planned Parenthood or when a man cites his Christian beliefs as he opens fire at a crowd of 200 or when a Christian kills 6 at a Sikh temple or when Christians commit terror attacks on abortion clinics, or any other instance when someone has used the Bible and their Christian beliefs as a basis for violence. The fact that when a pastor takes joy in the Orlando shootings he “doesn’t represent Christianity” but when a Muslim does something wrong he or she represents Muslims is another discussion.

That’s not what this post is about. Twisting a religious text to suit your own evil purposes is, alas, all too easy to do. And yes, that includes the Bible and its horrific body count.

Rather, this is about the oft-repeated notion that Muslims fail to denounce acts of terror from other Muslims. It’s a claim that is so full of shit, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Presumably, the people who make this claim want it to be true, facts be damned, because they could correct their ignorance with about two seconds on Google. That they don’t is telling.

The problem is, they spread this insidious perception despite the facts being against them, thus perpetuating an endless cycle of hate on both sides. It gets spread around in pithy little Facebook memes and repeated by people who like their “facts” simple and in fitting with their own biases.

Nevermind anti-ISIS rallies in D.C. held by Muslims or Muslims in France standing in harsh defiance against terror attacks there or widespread marches in London (which were largely ignored by the blood-hungry media) or Muslim scholars working against ISIS and countless other examples.

You can watch video of Muslims burning effigies of ISIS:

You can see Muslims repudiating the actions of groups like ISIS:

And view lengthy reports on how Muslims are speaking out against the violent minority among them:

This stuff is not difficult to find. Groups of Muslims in the U.S.denouncing ISIS as the enemies of mankind, for instance, or Muslims from multiple nations coming together to protest in favor of peace, the largest Muslim groups in huge nations like India organizing anti-ISIS protests, gatherings in Paris and at the Lincoln Memorial, some 70,000 Muslim clerics joining together to denounce terror … it goes on and on and on and on. There are many groups devoted to the cause, such as the Free Muslims Coalition. As the Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report both outline in excellent reports, moderate Muslims, i.e. almost all of them, ARE doing their part in the fight against terrorism — but no one is listening.

I could post verifiable, credible sources all day long. It’s easy. There are countless such stories out there. While armies of keyboard jockeys sit at home and gripe via tired old Facebook memes, Muslims are actively working both within their community and beyond to stem the tide of hate. Even top law enforcement officials in the federal government confirm that Muslims report on other Muslims all the time, despite what a certain presidential candidate claims.

“They do not want people committing violence, either in their community or in the name of their faith, and so some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim. It’s at the heart of the FBI’s effectiveness to have good relationships with these folks.” –FBI director James Comey

Some potential terrorists in Minnesota, for instance, were turned in by other Muslims.

Yet the sad truth is, when it comes to public perception in the U.S. their efforts don’t seem to matter. The people who insist that Muslims don’t do enough to denounce terror in their name will continue to insist as much no matter how badly the evidence is stacked against them. You do the math why. These are often the same people who cite passages from the Koran that seem to endorse violence as proof that it’s a violent religion, while 1) ignoring passages in the Bible that do the same, and 2) ignoring the many passages in the Koran that call for peace and understanding.

But I digress. My intention here isn’t to compare religions. That’s stupid. In fact, it’s the same sort of stupidity that helps breed violence in the first place.

Rather, it’s to say that the next time someone asks, “Why don’t Muslims ever say anything about this?” you should be sure to turn and walk in the other direction for as long as you can, because that person will never, ever have anything of value to say to you.

Because when it comes to acts of violence, the vast, vast majority of Muslims ARE SICK OF THIS SHIT – just like everyfarkin’one else.



PS – Bets on how many people argue with the headline without ever actually reading the piece?


  1. Charles

    Hi Eric. I may be able to answer this question for both you and your many Islamic readers in the United States and around the world:

    (1) The American people as a whole are emotionally and culturally numb to public acts of violence committed by our own people here at home and in other places. To understand this, you would need to walk in an American person’s shoes for a month.

    American society and culture are violent in nature. All you have to do is sit down and watch CNN for a day to realize that. Our own people kill off our own people on a grand scale. Most of the people who do that killing were probably raised as children in homes that were, to one degree or another, Christian. However, in most of those cases, the peaceful teachings of Jesus in the New Testament of the Christian Bible never sank into the heads of our homegrown killers enough that it encouraged them to be peaceful and nonviolent people. Therefore, every time an American kills a single American or a large group of Americans here at home, most of us pretty much expect that the person doing the killing was to some degree Christian when they were a child. This is an unconscious thing rather than a conscious thing, and so much killing occurs here that it becomes an unconscious and accepted reality in the American mind—like mindlessly brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes in the morning. So, if an American citizen, who was probably raised Christian, kills 5 people in Madrid or 10 in Algiers, the American unconscious mind automatically goes: “So what? Americans kill other Americans in just the same way here at home all the time. We are used to it. Our minds are numb to the reality of it, and we do not know how to fix it.”

    (2) Culturally, the vast majority of Americans are not like people in what we refer to as “foreign countries.” It would be a real mistake for foreigners to think that we are somehow “just like you.” For example, I have numerous friends and acquaintances who grew up in foreign nations. One thing I have noticed about nearly all of them is that they are “news hounds” who pride themselves on being up-to-date on every newsworthy thing (small or great) that is going on in their own hometowns and around the world each day. They tend to see the whole world as a single community, and they think of themselves as a responsible citizen in that world community. Some of them even have the BBC as their Internet homepage.

    Americans on the whole are not anything like that. Most Americans are concerned only with their own narrow little lives at home and what is going on at the moment in their own little social circle. The number of Americans who do not follow the daily news here at home and around the world would astound you good folks overseas!!! In many regions of the United States, including the one I live in here in the southeastern region of the United States, the rankest ignorance you can possibly imagine is held up as a high cultural value that has been passed down from one generation to another for hundreds of years. Therefore, if an American kills 10 people in India, most Americans will never hear about it or read about it—simply because they are not in the habit of hearing the news or reading it. I think our American news services know that and do not cover stories about American citizens killing people in faraway places—or if they do—the story is very tiny and tucked away in an interior newspaper page where readers are unlikely to ever see it. The Americans who do keep up with the news like foreigners do are usually the most highly educated Americans—but even they often miss the stories that might most concern people living overseas.

    (3) Why are Americans always saying that Muslims do not speak out publicly against radical Islamic terrorism? I think a great deal of this is attributable to the American “news ignorance” that I just described above. Most Americans may never see or read stories where Muslims speak out against terrorists, and quite frankly, I suspect that American news services do not cover such “speak outs” very well and make them front page news. And again, if you live in Mecca, such “speak outs” may be a front page story in your newspaper, but it will be a tiny article tucked into the back pages of an American newspaper—and most Americans will never see it. Therefore, because of this American ignorance and poor news coverage, Americans have the “perception” that Muslims do not care about terrorism on American or European soil and do not speak out against radical Islamic terrorism.

    (4) I am 63 years old now and have seen many things. One of the things I have seen over and over again across all my years has been the statement by foreign nations or foreign individuals: “We love the American people, but we do not like your government.” Therefore, I think people in foreign lands reflexively tend to think that Americans are saying to them: “We Americans love you people in foreign lands, but we do not love your governments.” Hold that thought for a moment because if you are living in a foreign land and are thinking this—you are dead wrong. I am about to say some things that will upset you. However, before doing that, I want you to understand that these ARE NOT my own personal feelings. I am just reporting on what I see happening in the lives of average, everyday Americans on American streets in their small towns and villages.

    (5) Most average American citizens are absolutely fed up with Middle Eastern Islamic peoples for four major reasons:

    A) The Middle Eastern Islamic commitment to the destruction of Israel.

    B) The Arab-led OPEC oil embargoes of the 1970s.

    C) The takeover of the American embassy in Iran in 1979.

    D) The Saudi-citizen-led terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001.

    Prior to these four events, the American people had good feelings about Middle Eastern peoples and about Islam—or at the very least they were just indifferent to them because they never heard or read about them—meaning they were not in the news. The terrorist event on 9/11 was the final outrage for the ordinary American. I sometimes feel that Middle Eastern Islamic peoples do not have a good understanding for the gravity of that event in the average American heart and mind—meaning there is very much of an Arab-Islamic attitude that says “so a few people were killed in some big buildings—so what—what does that have to do with me?” They cannot understand why Americans would be so angry and outraged about such a small thing and send armies to the Middle East to kill their people. I would like for Middle Eastern peoples and Middle Eastern Islamic peoples to be able to understand this American 9/11 event in terms familiar to your own culture—so you will finally understand why the average American is so upset and angry about that attack—and understand its true gravity. I can do that with a very simple statement:

    “Imagine if Mohammed himself were alive in human form and Allah himself had taken on vulnerable human form—and was walking with Mohammed in Mecca on September 11, 2001. On that day, 20 men from France took four large airplanes full of innocent people, intentionally crashed those airplanes into the location where Mohammed and Allah were having a loving chat and killed both of them—with no resurrection—Mohammed and Allah himself dead and gone forever.”

    Feel for a moment the depth of anger and outrage in your own Arab-Islamic heart if such an event had occurred. This is exactly and precisely what the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City did to the American heart and mind. Think on that deeply for a moment—and understand that this is how Americans view and understand the gravity of that one terrorist attack. American armies were sent to the Middle East because most average Americans believed—and still believe—that the attacks on 9/11 in New York City were a deliberate and premeditated attack by Arab peoples and Islam itself on our people—and on things as precious to us as Mohammed and Allah are precious to you. A matter loaded with that depth of gravity and emotion could not go unanswered. You would have answered such an attack. Americans know that you would have done so with an enormous, grief-fed viciousness. Americans do not understand why you cannot see that we were obligated to do the same.

    The American people (not our government) but OUR ORDINARY PEOPLE see every subsequent terrorist attack on our soil as a direct Arab-Pharsi-Islamic reiteration or replay of the 9/11 attack. The American people earnestly and honestly believe that the average Muslim shopping in the open air market in Mecca, Riyahd, Tehran, Damascus, or Cairo hates Americans and wants to kill Americans—and the 9/11 attack was the first open expression of that hatred. As a result, the American people feel as any people under attack and siege would feel. They are angry at Middle Eastern peoples, who they now perceive as being their enemies, and they are angry at Islam itself because they earnestly and honestly believe that ISLAM ITSELF is the key factor driving that hatred and the continuing terrorist attacks on the American people. Each time a terrorist attack is committed on American soil, the terrorists cry out that they have committed the attack in “the name of Islam.” Do you expect Americans to just ignore that? If your enemy is saying directly to you that you are being attacked in the name of Islam, the people being attacked are going to believe it—and they are not going to have any warm and fuzzy feelings for Islam or anything an Islamic person has to say. If you say that American Muslims are opposed to terrorism, they are not going to believe you because Muslims are committing the attacks. We have an old colloquial saying in the United States: “Talk is cheap. What you actually do is what counts.” Ordinary Americans see Islamic people killing our people in the name of Islam. Therefore, anything you have to say about Islam being a reasonable and loving religion is going to sound like “cheap talk.” Americans are looking at what Islamic people are actually doing, and all they see are their firearms, bullets, and bombs.

    (6) I have one closing thought. In my opinion, the American people—not our government—but just vast numbers of ordinary Americans—are reaching what is often referred to as a “tipping point.” If these terrorist attacks on American and European soil, all committed in the name of Islam, continue as they have been, the American people will soon demand and support government action against Arab-Islamic peoples in the Middle East. We know that ISIS itself would love nothing more because the angry young Middle Eastern men in ISIS, who cannot afford an airplane ticket to the United States, would see Americans “coming to them” as their most sought after prize “an opportunity to kill Americans.” The American people as a whole are so incredibly angry that the next time American and European armies go to the Middle East, it will not be to “stabilize the region, establish peace and brotherhood among Islamic nations, and do local nation building. Americans know now that will never work in a region with so much traditional religious, ethnic, and tribal strife. The next time Middle Eastern Islamic peoples see an enormous and combined American and European army coming into the Middle East, its sole purpose will be to punish, maim, kill, and destroy. And quite likely, it will result in a blood bath the likes of which have never been seen on planet Earth in human history—and it very well may involve the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Most of the blood in that bath will be the blood of ordinary Middle Eastern people.

    This next giant war in the Middle East can be avoided. It can be totally avoided, and ordinary Middle Eastern Islamic peoples have the power to stop it in their own hands—right now on their own streets. All they have to do is reach out in their families; sit down with the angry young Muslim men and women in their families; and tell them to quit killing Americans and Europeans with terrorist attacks. They are their sons and daughters—and they do have the power to control them and stop them. Ordinary Americans honestly believe that Middle Eastern families have no desire to stop their angry young men and women. Their failure to stop them will be a clear signal to ordinary Americans and Europeans that the ordinary peoples of the Middle East and Middle Eastern Islam itself hate ordinary Americans—and the next Middle Eastern blood bath will become inevitable—so sorry to say. Ordinary American people see the Islamist terrorist attacks on our soil in very much the same way that the Spartans saw the visit by the Persian messenger. Watch the movie clip:


    The rise of Donald Trump is a direct reflection of American anger at Arab-Islamist terrorist attacks on ordinary Americans. If he is elected President in November 2016, the peoples of the Middle East will know that the war I have mentioned above is near and coming. Yes. Donald Trump is crazy—but he is a crazy man that hears the anger of ordinary Americans about terrorist attacks.

    (7) One of the places I most see this loss of good feelings toward Muslims is in Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches, especially in the American South. I know that many Middle Eastern peoples like to mentally equate all Christians with the Medieval Crusades that devastated Islamic lands and peoples—and like to create a fantasy geopolitical perspective of Christianity vs. Islam. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Americans were never a part of any ancient Medieval Crusades and have no historical or cultural traditions supporting such ancient crusades—none whatsoever. Most American Christians do not have a Christianity vs. Islam viewpoint. I am speaking of the Roman Catholic Church and most mainline American Christian denominations such as the Episcopalians and United Methodists. From a purely religious perspective, these Christians love Islamic people and wish them no harm.

    The key problem here in the United States is that some fairly large sects of Christians, completely outside of the loving Christian denominations mentioned above, hate Islam and the followers of Islam with a perfect hatred. These people are what we call “Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals.” This is a severely legalistic and minority form of Christianity that, in my opinion, views Islam as a dangerous religious competitor for souls in the worldwide proselytization market. (Please look up “Christian Fundamentalist Churches” on Wikipedia to see which churches these are.) Christian fundamentalists believe that Islam is a false religion that serves Satan the Evil One. Many of them believe that the Allah of Islam is Satan himself—rather than the God of Abraham. They believe that Satan (in disguise) appeared to Mohammed and lied to Mohammed about being the God of Abraham. Mohammed believed the lie and became a minion of Satan. Therefore, Mohammed became evil like his Lord Satan (Allah), and Mohammed became a false prophet sent into the world to deceive mankind and make all men and women evil. The murders committed by Islamic terrorists on American and European soil are viewed as just one example of the many evils Islam has brought into the world. I think it would be fair to say that most Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical pastors would view the eradication of Islam from the face of the earth as a good and positive thing that would please the true God of Abraham. However, I would hasten to add that none of them are actively planning or engaged in any sort of plot to eradicate Islam. Most of them are just fat-bellied preachers with mouths that expel a lot of meaningless and militant-sounding hot air—with no real teeth behind it to back up what they say. And I would further add—just to reiterate— that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are a decided and not-well-liked minority within the whole of Christendom. In other words, most American Christians do not like them any more than the followers of Islam like them.

    (8) I would like to reiterate that the things I have said above that may have upset you are not my personal feelings and beliefs. Personally, I know that most Islamic citizens of the Middle East do not hate ordinary Americans and that Islam is a moderate religion that is not intrinsically violent. I also realize that most Islamic Middle Eastern citizens do not support radical Islamic terrorism against ordinary Americans. However, I do believe that people like me are becoming fewer and fewer in number here in the United States as these terrorist attacks on ordinary Americans continue. The people of the Middle East and the people of Islam are gradually losing the good feelings of the American people. I see it all around me in the region where I live—out on the streets—in the markets—in the restaurants—everywhere. All of us need to work against these terrorists before they so poison human feelings to a point from which none of us in the United States or the Middle East will be able to return and have peace.

    1. Dave Powell

      Strange, this reads as if it were written in reply to someone who wasn’t American. As much as we’d like to deny it, NJ is still America 🙂

    2. Eric San Juan

      Thank you for your comments, Charles. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to offer your thoughts.

      For what it’s worth, I’m just a dude from New Jersey. I AM an American, I’m not sure I have many Muslim readers outside a few Muslim friends, and I do want to state for the record that when you speak on behalf of the American people (especially in points #5 and 6), you do not speak for me.

      That aside, I’m glad that you’ve offered some thoughtful, intelligent commentary. Thoughtless rhetoric is harmful, simple-minded, and makes matters worse. Thoughtful dialogue, on the other hand, is an important part of coming together as a varied people.

  2. Rick LundeenRick Lundeen

    At least one gentleman left quite an impressive response.


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