“ISIS is to Islam what the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity.” When my sister said this phrase yesterday, something clicked–a key in the lock of my mind, where I had been trying unsuccessfully to find the perfect way to say: ISIS is not Islam.
It’s a shame that I need to say it at all, because it seems so obvious. But I live in an area where folks, especially older folks, are open-hearted and kind to a fault–right up until people start getting blown up.
Then the proverbial wagons are circled, and tongues start wagging against anyone who looks like the bomber on CNN. As my friend of Indian descent recently told me: “It’s getting harder and harder to be a brown person in this country.”
SO. Let’s do a little truth-telling:
KKK: Toxic, vile, violent truth-twisting in the name of God, and not at all what I mean when I say “Christian”.
ISIS: Toxic, vile, violent truth-twisting in the name of Allah, and not at all what Muslims mean when they say “Islam”.
*Both groups have roots in religion; both have bent their respective Scriptures beyond recognition; both believe they have the One True Truth; both have committed acts of terror on “God’s behalf”.
Muslims around the world are being treated as suspect, as though they very well might be running around instilling fear after dark like the KKK– except with guns instead of white sheets and suicide bombs in lieu of burning crosses.
Now–my sister can’t take credit for the KKK comparison; she heard it on the West Wing years ago. (Hardly surprising, given the quality of the show’s writing.) Regardless of where it came from, the KKK/ISIS metaphor is just what we need to help many Americans understand that ISIS does not equal Islam.
“[Islamic fundamentalists are] the Klan gone medieval, global. It couldn’t have less to do with Islamic men and women of faith of whom there are millions upon millions. Muslims defend this country in the army, navy, air force, marine corps, national guard, police and fire departments…” –West Wing wisdom
What if, almost overnight, a person with fair skin was thought of as “dangerous”?
What if, almost overnight, Christianity became synonymous with hate?
What if, almost overnight, “Jesus follower” meant “KKK”?
This is the plight of many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, who are no more ISIS than Christians are the Klan.
*This comparison might not shut down Thanksgiving Crazy exactly like Adele on SNL, but here’s to hoping that it helps.
Reba Riley is an interfaith advocate and the author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.