Imam Zaid Shakir came to speak at my school, Claremont McKenna, on December 9th to respond to the “tragedy of Ft. Hood.” Rather than respond to the massacre of American servicemen, Shakir spent the evening indicting the United States – saying “we were born in genocide.” The reason for the Ft. Hood Massacre, according to Shakir? Not jihad or Islamic fundamentalism, but the “pervasiveness of violence in our society” and because of Americans’ “easy access to guns.”
For those wondering who Mr. Shakir is, he’s the go-to expert on Islamic issues for the mainstream media. The New York Times describes him as a “leading intellectual light,” while rap scholar, Cornel West says “he is one of the towering principle [sic] voices not only in contemporary Islam, but in American society,” according to this biography. Most recently, he was described by John Esposito as one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims.”
After comparing the massacres at Ft. Hood by Major Nidal Hassan to the Columbine killers and Maurice Clemmons, of Mike Huckabee pardon fame, Shakir said that the violence we have seen was not a “Muslim problem,” but a problem for everyone. You never quite know when someone will “snap.” [The following is extracted from a transcript from audio I took of the public lecture at my college.]
There is not a Muslim problem. Especially based on the number of Muslims who have done this particular act. It’s not a Korean problem because the kid in Virginia tech was a Korean American. It’s not a white American problem because the kids in Columbine or several other places were white Americans. That’s not the common denominator, race is not the common denominator, religion is not the common denominator, gender–maybe, I would say they should just chill out. What is the common denominator. The common denominator is easy access to guns. The common denominator is that there are more guns in America than there are human beings. There are more guns in America than human beings, and they are easily had. And if someone tries to limit their accessibility, they’re going to be challenged by the NRA, the National Rifle Association–one of the most powerful lobbies in this country. That’s the common denominator. So if we are serious as a society about stopping this violence, it doesn’t behoove us to demonize Muslims. We’re here to talk about Muslims, I’m not trying to dodge that, but if behooves us to make it far, far, far more difficult for people to get their hands on a gun. And if we’re not willing to do that, it’s easy to go blame the Muslims. That’s easy and that’s why so many people do–it’s a national sport. Vilify the Muslims, they’re weak, they can’t fight back.
Of course left unsaid is why we should ban guns on a military base. Shouldn’t Major Hassan, a U.S. Army officer, be carrying a gun on such a military base? And what of the quick thinking of the law enforcement personnel on the scene who were well armed?
But “the violence that permeates our society spills over to other shores,” Zaid said. To prove his point, Shakir totally misrepresented history, claiming for instance that “the last time any Muslim country encroached upon a Christian country” was “300 years ago, the second Ottoman siege of Vienna,” and utterly ignoring the Armenian genocide or the civil war in Lebanon, to name just two quick examples.
He claimed, among other things that the American invasion and occupation was to blame for the hostility between Shiites and Sunnis – ignoring that the Battle of Karbala between Sunnis and Shiites, occurred in Iraq some centuries ago. And while violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq was rare before 1991, that was only because Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated Baath party kept its hands tightly on the reigns of power.
In addition, Zaid referenced the infiltration by the FBI of a Muslim mosque in Irvine, CA – trying to “whip up people.” He advised Muslims to resist those “agent provocateurs” “infiltrating our community and our mosques, try to provoke us to harm our fellow citizens in any way,” but left out that the FBI uncovered a plot to bomb buildings and arrested one man, Ahmadullah Niaza, for concealing his connections to al-Qaeda on naturalization papers. Maybe the reason the FBI infiltrated the Irvine mosques was their jihadi connections?
But this narrative of being infiltrated fit in with his view that Muslims are the victims of an increasingly hateful American society. Incredibly and without evidence, he said, that if you “turn on the radio, there are people actually saying, ‘Go kill some Muslims. One of them killed some of us, go kill, you see a Muslim, just shoot him.’ On the radio!”
You can say things about Muslims you can’t say about any other group. [mimicking someone with objections ]”Oh, that’s not true.” You can’t go on the radio, public air space, regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and say “We should go out and kill group A, group B, group C.” You can say it to Muslims, no one will say anything. No one will say anything. You could print it, no one will say anything. Muslims are the enemy after all. So Muslims who are just minding their business, trying to make a good life, raise their children, go to work every day and hear that? What should you do? Well (inaudible), you should patiently persevere in doing the good things you are doing.
It’s an interesting narrative, but this “nation born in genocide,” didn’t go after Muslims after Fort Hood, despite the articles fearing a “backlash.” Maybe, just maybe, the land of the free is a good place for Muslims, after all, notwithstanding Shakir’s attempts to deflect the very real threat of Muslim violence against America.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Imam Shakir in his own words in the video above or read the transcript below.