I guess it depends on how you define a religion.
Did Nazism kill 6 million Jews? Did Communism kill countless numbers of Chinese? Did Islam kill 3,000 Americans on 9/11?
The people least likely to agree with these statements have some sympathy with the ideology of the perpetrators. These people either engage in some form of denial “The Holocaust was made up”, “People died of hunger because of American foreign policy”, “The CIA and Bush did 9/11”.
Or they’ll try to distance the “pure” ideology from the undeniable crimes of its believers while at the same time blaming the victims.
“The Nazis weren’t true fascists, but Germany was responding to real problems with the Jews.” “Stalinism hijacked the revolution, but it was responding to a campaign of sabotage from abroad and at home.”
And, the mainstream and popular, “Al Qaeda doesn’t represent real Islam, but American foreign policy helped cause the violence.”
Now on to Judy Woodruff at PBS pressing Bloomberg on the common sense response to 9/11.
Judy Woodruff: One other thing I want to ask you about, but just to clarify quickly on that, you’re saying it’s OK to target Muslim Americans, as a religion?
Michael Bloomberg: No, it’s OK to go where you think there might be information that would be useful in keeping us safe. And there were imams who publicly at that time were urging the terrorism. And, so of course that’s where you’re going to go.
Judy Woodruff: Last thing I want to ask you about, the…
Michael Bloomberg: It doesn’t, incidentally, mean that all Muslims are terrorists or all terrorists are Muslim. But there was — the people that flew those airplanes came from the Middle East. And some of the imams were urging more of the same. And so, of course, we sent the police officers in. And we were so super careful, because you knew people would look at it, and I didn’t want anybody to think we’re targeting an ethnicity. We were just targeting a group where it’s more likely, if you — we went to listen to the imams who reputedly were stirring things up. That’s what you — that’s what intelligence is all about. You have to keep the — you have to step back, Judy, and understand we had 3,000 people killed in one — a few minutes.
Judy Woodruff: But it wasn’t a religion that killed them.
Michael Bloomberg: No, but all of the people came from the same place. And all that came were from a place. They happened to be one religion. And if they had been another religion, we would have done the same thing.
Bloomberg is collapsing in the polls because he’s an inept speaker and an unpleasant person. And the debates were a mess. But here he’s reasonably articulate and generally sensible.
But, of course, there’s the larger question at the very end.
Did a religion kill them?
According to Woodruff and pretty much everyone in power, Islam had precisely zero to do with 9/11. According to Bloomberg, it’s an organizing data point. But not entirely definitive.
Did Nazism kill 6 million Jews? Did Communism kill 100 million people? Did Islam kill 3,000 people on 9/11?
It all depends on where your sympathies lie, with the perpetrators or the victims, with Nazism, Communism, or Islam.