Congressman Joe Walsh, you have dishonored your office. You said "radical" Muslims are trying to "kill Americans every week ... there is a radical strain of Islam in this country. It is a real threat. ... It's in Elk Grove. It's in Addison. It's in Elgin. It's here."
You ignore the facts. A recent study connected to the University of North Carolina found that only 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots in 2011, down from 26 in 2010. The study also reported that while there were about 14,000 murders in the U.S. last year, none resulted from Islamic extremism. Another recent study by the Muslim Public Affairs Council found that since 9/11 there have been 135 terrorist plots in the U.S. by non-Muslims, as compared to 60 similar plots by U.S. and foreign Muslims.
There is no radical "strain" of Islam in this country. There are isolated, disaffected extremists who hate in the name of Islam. But the facts show they are few. Americans have more to fear from ordinary crime and right-wing extremist groups.
Your words are part of an old, ugly tune. The same tune spread hatred of Japanese Americans in World War II, leading to their unjustified detention. Congressman, your words add to a climate of fear that makes all Muslims suspect, a climate that has resulted recently in the suspected arson of a mosque in Missouri and acts of violence at mosques in Morton Grove and Lombard.
Although a Catholic priest, I have studied Islam extensively. I've been honored to work with suburban Muslims as part of a local interfaith coalition. Your words smear a great religion whose values are shared by my faith. They also put at risk holy Muslim men and women. Our nation deserves better from a leader.
Fr. Corey Brost
Clerics of St. Viator
Children of Abraham Coalition