BY REUVEN FIRESTONE – USC Annenberg
"I know that not all Christians are right-wing extremist terrorists, but why are all right-wing extremist terrorists Christians?"
This is the question I'm never asked. But as somebody who actually knows something about Islam and about the complex history of Muslim relations with Jews and Christians, I am often asked the following: "I know that not all Muslims are terrorists, but why are all terrorists Muslim?"
Last week, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Columbia, walked into a study session at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. After sitting for an hour he shot nearly everybody at the meeting. That was an act of terror. He was not a Muslim. As far as we know he was acting alone, like the Tsarnaev brothers, though both were undoubtedly influenced by organized groups through social media and other electronic sources. Was Christianity the motivation for Roof's brutal violence?
One could make the case. The Christian Crusades were a violent European military movement directed not only against infidels, but against people of color living outside the boundaries of Europe. That's a parallel to the argument that I often hear among non-Muslims that Muslims were bent on a violent conquest against all infidels. But more to the point, many of the white supremacist groups in the US are united under the banner of "Christian Unity," while the Ku Klux Klan websiteclaims that its "better way" is "the Christian way."