Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
The deadliest mass shooting in American history happened because of Islamophobia.
Islamophobia killed 49 people in Orlando. It didn’t kill 49 Muslims. Instead it allowed Omar Mateen, a Muslim terrorist, to kill 49 people in the name of his Islamic ideology and the Islamic State.
Omar, like so many other Muslim killers, could have been stopped. He talked about killing people when he worked at G4S Security, a Federal contractor that provided services to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. But, according to one of the co-workers he stalked, a former police officer, his employers refused to do anything about it because he was a Muslim.
The FBI conducted an investigation of Omar Mateen. They put him on a watch list and sent informants. They interviewed him and concluded that his claims of Al Qaeda ties and terrorist threats were reactions to “being marginalized because of his Muslim faith.” Omar told the agents that he said those things because “his co-workers were discriminating against him and teasing him because he was Muslim.”
And they believed him.
Poor Omar wasn’t a potential terrorist. He was just a victim of Islamophobia.
Omar got away with homophobic comments that would have gotten Americans fired because he was Muslim. He weathered an “extensive” FBI investigation because he was Muslim.
Anyone who says that there is no such thing as Muslim Privilege ought to look at Omar Mateen.
There is a direct line between Omar’s Muslim privilege and the Pulse massacre. Omar Mateen’s Muslim privilege protected him from consequences. While the media studiously paints the image of a beleaguered population of American Muslims suffering the stigma of constant suspicion, Omar’s Muslim background actually served as a shield and excused behavior that would have been unacceptable for anyone else. Omar Mateen’s Muslim privilege shielded him until he was actually murdering non-Muslims.
And Omar’s case is not unique. The Fort Hood killer, Nidal Hasan, handed out business cards announcing that he was a Jihadist. He delivered a presentation justifying suicide bombings, but no action was taken. Like Omar, the FBI was aware of Hasan. It knew that he was talking to Al Qaeda bigwig Anwar Al-Awlaki, yet nothing was done. Instead of worrying about his future victims, the FBI was concerned that investigating him and interviewing him would “harm Hasan’s career”.
One of his classmates later said that the military authorities, “Don't want to say anything because it would be considered questioning somebody's religious belief, or they're afraid of an equal opportunity lawsuit.”
Would the FBI have been as sensitive if Nidal Hasan had been named Frank Wright? No more than Omar Mateen would have kept his security job if his name had been Joe Johnson.
It’s an increasingly familiar story.
The neighbors of San Bernardino killers Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik noticed that something strange was going on, but they were afraid of profiling Muslims. If they had done the right thing, the 14 victims of the two Muslim killers would still be alive. If the FBI had done the right thing with Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood victims would still be alive and whole. If the FBI had done the right thing with Omar Mateen, his 49 victims would still be alive and those he wounded would still be whole.
We have some basic choices to make. We can empathize with Muslims or with their victims.
We cannot however do both.
After 9/11, Muslims somehow became the biggest victim group in America. And even if you contend that most Muslims are not responsible for the actions of Islamic fundamentalist groups, even if you believe that most Muslims are being wrongly blamed for the actions of a smaller group of radicals, the pernicious myth of Muslim victimhood has become a distorting force that protects terrorists.
Muslim victimhood has elevated Islamist groups such as CAIR to the front row of political discourse alongside legitimate civil rights organizations, despite their terror links and history of obstructing law enforcement efforts to fight Islamic terrorism, while mainstreaming their Islamist agendas.
Muslim victimhood has silenced the victims of Muslim terrorism. Every Muslim terror attack is swiftly diverted to the inevitable “backlash” narrative in which the media turns away from the bodies in the latest terror attack to bring us the stories of the real Muslim victims who fear being blamed for it.
This obscene act of media distraction silences the victims of Muslim terrorism and rewards the enablers and accomplices of Muslim terrorism instead. It is every bit as terrible as claiming that the real victims of a serial killer are his family members who are being blamed for not turning him in, instead of the people he killed and the loved ones they left behind.
Muslim victimhood protects Muslim terrorists like Omar Mateen. It shields them from scrutiny. It invents excuses for them. While Omar made his preparations, while the FBI investigation of him was botched, the media leaped nimbly from a thousand petty claims of Muslim victimhood. And the worst of them may have been Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim woman who claimed she was discriminated against when a flight attendant poured her soda in a cup instead of being given a can. This insane nonsense received days of media coverage. That’s more airtime than any American victim of Islamic terrorism has received.
The media will wait as short a period as it can and turn away from Orlando to some manufactured viral media claim of Muslim discrimination that will be unbearably petty. Meanwhile the next Omar Mateen will be plotting his next act of terror.
It’s time to tell the truth.
Islamic terrorism is caused by Muslim privilege. These acts of violence are motivated by racism and supremacism in Islam. Allahu Akbar, the Islamic battle cry often associated with acts of terror and ethnic cleansing since its origin in Mohammed’s persecution of the Jews, is a statement of Muslim superiority to non-Muslims.
Muslim terrorism is not the groan of an oppressed minority. Its roots run back to racist and supremacist Islamic societies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt where non-Muslims have few if any civil rights. Muslims are a global majority. Islamic terrorism is their way of imposing their religious system on everyone.
Standing in solidarity with Muslims after Orlando makes as much sense as standing in solidarity with Klansmen after the Charleston massacre. No one should be standing in solidarity with hate groups.
Omar wasn’t radicalized by the “internet”. He got his ideas from Islamic clerics who got their ideas from Islam. He was “radicalized” by the holiest texts of Islam. Just like every other Muslim terrorist. His actions weren’t “senseless” or “nihilistic”, he was acting out the Muslim privilege of a bigoted ideology.
Even in this country, the majority of hate crimes are not directed at Muslims. Instead Muslims have disproportionately contributed to persecuting various minority groups. Orlando is only the latest example of this trend. In Europe, Jews are fleeing Sweden and France because of Muslim persecution. In Germany, gay refugees have to be housed separately from Muslim migrants. So do Christian refugees.
This isn’t the behavior of victims. These are the actions of oppressors.
Muslims are not part of the coalition of the oppressed, but of the oppressors. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can deal stop Islamic terrorism and protect the victims of Muslim terrorists.
Muslim privilege killed 49 people in Orlando. How many people will it kill next week or next month? How many will it kill in the next decade or the next century?
The Muslim genocide of non-Muslims is already happening in Syria and Iraq. Islam has a long genocidal history. And if we continue to confuse the oppressors and the oppressed, the next genocide we fail to stop may be our own.