Apparently functioning as some sort of public relations firm, the Miami Commission passed a resolution last week intended to show “solidarity with Muslims and those targeted for their ethnicity, race, or religion.” The resolution officially condemned hate speech targeting Muslims as well as violence against practitioners of the faith.
After being praised by a local Council on American-Islamic Relations representative, Vice Chair Ken Russell said, “It’s not about courage as a politician; it’s simply heartfelt empathy for someone’s freedom to express their religion and not be persecuted for it.”
Russell continued: “And to recognize it as a religion of love. Not to judge a group of people by the minority few within their population that commit bad crimes.”
The resolution, of course, was strongly supported by Muslim groups in the Miami-Dade area. Shabbir Motorwala of the Council of South Florida Muslim Organizations said, “It’s a very strong message the city will be sending to the people preaching about the hate, not against Muslims, but against anybody.”
In addition to being an unsettling step towards cracking the First Amendment, this resolution is born out of a common misconception. That misconception is that the Donald Trumps and Ted Cruzes and Pamela Gellers of the world are inciting Islamophobia through their “hateful” rhetoric.
From an edition of the Washington Post last year, just after the San Bernardino shootings:
Hateful words have real life consequences: There have been two dozen attacks documented against Muslims in the U.S. since the Paris attacks, including a pig’s head being thrown at a mosque, according to USA Today. Indiana Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, one of two Muslims in Congress, announced that he received a death threat. He blames politicians for “fanning the flames of bigotry.”
Well, it wasn’t politicians who shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Politicians didn’t kill scores of people in Paris, Brussels, Orlando, NYC, and dozens of other cities around the world. Muslims carried out those attacks. Not just Muslims, by chance. Muslims who killed specifically in the name of their religion.
That – not rhetoric – is what drives Islamophobia. The words do not lead to the actions. The actions (of the terrorists) lead to the words. Solve the cause, and you’ll solve the effect. Ignore the cause and address only the effect? You won’t do a damn thing other than make things worse.