Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Response to Art Hobson

On December 6, 2008, Art Hobson, a columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Times, penned this piece decrying Islam. Below is a reproduction of my response, submitted to the Northwest Arkansas Times on December 24, 2008, and left unpublished.

I was saddened to read Prof. Hobson’s piece which appeared in these pages on December 6. He is a man of some regard whose views are afforded much respect in this community. Unfortunately, his December 6 piece was rife with errors, poorly researched, and revealed disdain for Muslims, persons of religions, and even the members of this community that look to Prof. Hobson’s insights on matters of all stripes.

Prof. Hobson errantly conflates suicide terrorism with Islam. He does this obliquely, seemingly discussing the two as separate matters but leaving no doubt in any reader’s mind that Prof. Hobson believes that Islam manufactures suicide bombers. He comes to this by first discussing the recent attacks in Mumbai–an attack that, interestingly, did not involve suicide bombers.

While Hobson, like many of us, relies on his impression that “nearly every recent terrorist attack comes from Muslims,” the group singularly responsible for the most acts of suicide terrorism over the last 30 years is the Marxists Tamil Tigers–a predominately Hindu group! In fact, Prof. Robert Pape, a political scientist from the University of Chicago, demonstrated in 2005 that suicide terrorism is motivated not by religion but by politics.

Hobson is correct that in combating the groups that employ terrorism we should ask: What are their aims and why have they attacked? It is unfortunate for Prof. Hobson – and potentially disastrous for us as a nation – to lump disparate groups with varied goals together and wrongly attribute their actions solely to their religion. Muslims, like Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, come in many varieties and for as many that believe “Paradise is in the shadow of swords” there are those that heed the Koran 2:62: “Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.”