Why is it that we don’t — or won’t — label non-Muslims “radical”?


Oh, I know, as soon as someone sees that I pulled a New York Times story, I (and perhaps the newspaper) will be accused of some kind of bias.


But at least consider addressing the question that the story offers: Why is the label “radical” used ONLY when Muslims do terrible things?

Radicalization seems to mean something, the gist of which is this: that there is a knowable and coherent process, like a kind of matriculation — that moves a once-normal human being along some grisly progression until he or she is killing people. It’s a sturdy box of a word filled with apparent meaning, yet when pressed upon to deliver the specifics, mostly collapses like cardboard. …

In current discourse, “radicalization” tends to limit unthinkable attacks to those carried out by anyone of Middle Eastern descent — but why? Micah Johnson, an African-American man in Dallas, murdered five police officers in the wake of new YouTube videos showing black citizens being fatally shot by the police — was he self-radicalized? Or Jerad and Amanda Miller, the white couple who joined the antigovernment protests at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in 2014 before being asked to leave and then fatally gunned down a civilian and two police officers in Las Vegas — were they radicalized?

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