Michael Graham, who is described as a “Political humorist and radio talk host”, was sacked from his job on a US radio station for this article headed “The tragedy of Islam”. His claim? “Islam is a terror organization.” Here’s a brief quote.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is outraged that I would dare to connect the worldwide epidemic of terrorism with Islam. They put it down to bigotry, asserting that a lifetime of disinterest in Islam has suddenly become blind hatred. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Not to be mean to the folks at CAIR, but I don’t: Care, that is. I simply don’t care about Islam, its theology, its history â€” I have no interest in it at all. All I care about is not getting blown to smithereens when I board a bus or ride a plane. I care about living in a world where terrorism and murder/suicide bombings are rejected by all.
Apparently he has lots of supporters stateside. I gather that thousands of emails have been sent to the radio station concerned and it is pretty clear that whatever else happens, Mr Graham is unlikely to suffer financially because of this. In fact, I imagine that he’ll do rather well out of it. His cynical article was nothing but carefully calculated to cause controversy (“I take no pleasure in saying it. It pains me to think it. I could very well lose my job in talk radio over admitting it” indeed) and while he concludes with a few words pretending friendship with Islam (‘I have great sympathy for those Muslims of good will who want their faith to be a true “religion of peace”‘) he has succeeded in producing what he undoubtedly intended: an anti-Islam banner to which fellow right-wingers can flock.
I’m not saying that there is not some truth in what he says. There are many problems within Islam and I hope and believe that Muslims will address them. But the fact of those problems, and the presence of violent extremists within Islam, hardly discredits the whole religion.
Mr Graham is deeply shocked that a group of Imams were unable to give an unequivocal “yes” to the question “Are suicide bombings always a violation of Islam?” but even a moment’s reflection will show that many Christians would be forced to be equally equivocal if they were honest. The simple but unpleasant fact is that people of the world faiths have always found it possible to justify terrorism when the political case has been compelling enough.* You could argue that the state of Israel would never have been established had it not been for Jewish terrorism. The horrid Muslim terrorists of Chechenya were widely regarded as “freedom fighters” pre-9/11. Republican terrorists in Northern Ireland received considerable support from Catholics (and socialists) in Britain and Ireland, as well as from “Irish Americans”. How many convicted terrorists were excommunicated by the Pope? Does that make the Roman Catholic Church a “terrorist organization”? Of course not!
“I care about living in a world where terrorism and murder/suicide bombings are rejected by all” sounds fine. In fact, I agree completely and without reservation. But our governments have used terror as a tool of their policy on many occasions - the French secret service escapade in New Zealand, US operations in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the British in Northern Ireland all leap to mind - and my credulity won’t stretch so far as to believe that they’ll never do it again.
That alone should give us pause when evaluating Michael Graham’s ridiculous diatribe, and everything else that bears the same stamp.
* No, of course I don’t believe that any terrorist violence is justified by any political case. But, of course, others do. And they aren’t all Muslim.