Orlando: Nothing to Do With Islam?

Orlando Skyline at night
Orlando Skyline at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When a Christian allegedly commits an act of violence and subsequently tells us that he or she was at least partially motivated by some aspect of his or her Christian faith, most of us have little difficulty accepting the possibility that Christianity may have been a relevant factor in this particular crime. This does not mean that we suddenly regard all Christians as dangerous; we do not even regard all Christian extremists as dangerous. It also does not mean that we begin to assume that most Christians would interpret their faith in the same way this one Christian did or that most Christians would view what this Christian did as being morally justified. All it means is that we are willing to consider the possibility that Christianity may have played some role in what this one person did.

When a Muslim allegedly commits an act of violence and cites some aspect of Islam as part of the motivation, many of us see no reason to treat the case differently. We conclude that this act of violence probably had at least something to do with Islam. Again, this does not mean that all Muslims are violent, that most Muslims interpret their faith in the same way as the killer, or that most Muslims would praise the violent act. It does not mean any of that. What it means that Islam may have been relevant in what this one person did.

Unfortunately, some on the left (i.e., the regressive left) seem to have a very difficult time with this. No act of violence, it appears, can ever have anything to do with Islam. They will ignore evidence of radicalization and/or the possibility that an alleged perpetrator may have been inspired by Muslim extremists. They have made up their minds in advance that it was not Islam because it could not have been Islam, and they are unwilling to consider any evidence to the contrary. Anyone who suggests that Islam might have played a part is "gross" and "racist." There is no debate to be had, as they have concluded that their narrative is the only one that can be correct.

I don't think we know enough yet about what happened in Orlando to definitively conclude that the murders would not have taken place but for Islam. At least, I'm not ready to draw such a conclusion. It is still early, and I suspect that some of the initial information that has been reported to us will prove to be incorrect. Perhaps we will learn that the alleged perpetrator was motivated by something else. At the same time, I think we'd be making a serious mistake if we concluded now that this couldn't possibly have had anything to do with Islam and dismissed all evidence to the contrary. Doing so might be an effective way to promote one particular narrative, but it is certainly no way to get at the truth.

What I am becoming increasingly sure of is that the regressive left is approaching an important crossroads where they are going to need to make a difficult choice. Either they are going to have to start coming to terms with the fact that some Muslims do horrible things that can sometimes be at least partially inspired by Islam or they are going to have to come to terms with the fact that their denial of this obvious reality is making it more likely that the U.S. will elect Donald Trump as our next president. Growing numbers of Americans on both sides of the left-right spectrum are fed up with being told that none of this is ever about Islam when it seems so obvious that it is sometimes about Islam. When the left reveals itself to be unwilling or incapable of accepting this reality, voters are going to migrate to the right, and we could very well end up with a President Trump.