What’s Islam Got to Do With It?

From the D.C. sniper to Ft. Hood, it’s un-American to blame black people or Muslims for what crazy people do.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I can’t disagree more. One of the great things about being American is this clichéd notion of rugged individuality. We are not an old society like Europe or India, where your class and identity were established before your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother was born. This idea of personal responsibility and the self-made individual organizes the way we think about ourselves as Americans.

So this idea that blacks/gays/Latinos/insert religious persuasion must take responsibility for whatever evil other blacks/gays/Latinos/insert religious persuasion do is frankly un-American.

With far more nuance than exhibited by our nation’s most prominent pundits, in his Ft. Hood speech last night, President Obama drew a sharp line between religion and individual crazy: “It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know—no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice—in this world, and the next.”

I am all for straight-talk on religion and everything else. But sometimes you just have to call these arguments about the need for the Muslim community to take responsibility what they are: illogical and wrong.

It is particularly patronizing when these kinds of admonishments come from someone outside said persecuted group. I am not going around wagging my finger at my white neighbors, demanding they convene a White People Summit to dialogue about how they can avoid producing another Timothy McVeigh/Unabomber/Charles Manson—or even a George W. Bush. That would be an unfair attack on all decent white people.