The question came from a public defender in a quiet voice, scarcely audible above the sound of the judge advising a defendant of something. We were sitting in the well of the court, misbehaving.
“I don’t think so,” I giggled. “But these days, you just can’t be sure.”
You see, I’ve become an Islamophobe, and, as with most things related to opinions, I discuss it openly. A friend of mine who writes an opinion column under a pseudonym tells me he worries I’ve become unhinged; he hopes I find my way back. If this is error, I prefer the dark woods.
It’s not the attack on Parisians that brought about this turn. Neither is it the attack in San Bernardino.
Why this turn? Why now?
In the wake of 9/11, I was quick to worry, and to write, about the threat to civil liberties the destruction of the World Trade Center posed. I was all ablaze to protect the accused, to stand next to my Muslim brother wrongfully, or even justly, accused.
Today I am wondering whether I can represent Muslims at all.
I think it is a sense of futility. For decades, radical Islam has talked about wanting to kill folks just like me. We’re apostates, infidels, evil itself. For the most part, I ignore the chatter as dark noise.
But the chatter never goes away. It cannot be erased by military or economic action. Like a cancer, it seems to grow. I hear Allahu Akbar less as a call to the faithful, than as a signal to duck and seek cover.
From the left come facile comparisons, the easy currency of moral equivalency: Where’s your outrage over killing by Christians? Dylan Roof tried to start a race war in Charleston by shooting up a black church – why aren’t you suspicious of white men?
I asked one such interlocutor the following:
“Have you heard about the Baptist suicide bomber?”
“No,” she said, doubtless excited to hear about it, and hopeful that this news would signal a softening of my rising suspicion of all things, and people, Muslim.
“That’s because there aren’t any,” I told her. “That’s the point.”
To a Muslim friend who chided me for discrimination, I said, curtly: “Don’t waste your breath policing my attitude, police your co-religionists.”
I know it’s horribly unpolitically correct to say these things aloud. I just don’t care anymore.
Has ISIS won the battle for my mind? That’s another accusation I’ve heard. “ISIS wants you to be suspicious of Islam. You’re letting them win.”
Well, not quite. ISIS wants me dead. They’ll settle for my hatred as a sloppy second.
I don’t mind giving ISIS its due. It has hitched a ride under the tent of an old faith that has for centuries had a warring attitude toward the West. I’m not going to take the time to give the benefit of the doubt to the Muslim world after decades of recent terror. If that’s a win for ISIS, fine.
So will I be voting for Donald Trump?
I doubt it, but I am glad I won’t have the option of voting once again for Barack Obama. His speech the other night was offensive. An Islamic state has declared war on the West; it kills people, and encourages others to kill. I really don’t need a lecture on tolerance of diverse faiths just now. What I am looking for is a leader with the starch to wage a war.
I’ve made my declaration. Islam is no religion of peace. It never has been. I’ve crossed a line. Call me a godless crusader, if there can be such a thing. Or just call me a bigot: I can bear the scorn; it’s the suicide bombers I worry about.
I don’t know where this new attitude leads, or how this fight with ISIS ends. But I have changed course.
So be it.