Last week, Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, used his blog "What Would Muhammad Do" at the Religion News Service to claim a moral equivalency between Ft. Hood jihadist Major Nidal Malik Hasan and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. "When Americans Kill vs. When Muslims Kill" is a morally repugnant attempt to claim a double standard in the way Americans react to mass murder. In this, Safi echoes the party line of the Middle East studies establishment, which blames the West for the region's political and technological backwardness while largely ignoring its systemic social problems, from the subservient roles of women to the glorification of terrorism.
Rather than proving his claim, however, Safi highlights what he attempts to deny -- that the double standard in Americans' treatment of Muslims leads Americans to turn a blind eye toward Islamic radicals while condemning non-Muslims harshly. Willful blindness, not bigotry, is the hallmark of the contemporary West's treatment of Islamic radicalism.
When Americans kill, it is portrayed as an aberration, an act of a tormented and troubled individual. When Muslims kill, it is covered as a signal of a communal, global genocidal tendency.
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