Different Perspectives: The West Is No Less Violent Than The Middle East

For years I used to try and convince people that Islam is not so bad at all, and that terrorists are just a few bad apples in an inherently good system. I was forced to admit that Islam did lead more people to become violent than Christianity or atheism did, but my point remained that Muslims should not be judged prematurely. It wasn’t until last week that I realised that that was an incredibly ignorant and Western way to think.

See, despite the fact that we like to think otherwise, we are all influenced by our environment and by what people around us believe and say. For example, we are told about the terrible events of 9/11 and we take that as an example of Islam gone wrong. However, at the same time, we get told about atrocities such as Abu Ghraib or an American soldier randomly shooting Afghan civilians, and our conclusion is that they are individuals gone wrong, rather than society or a religion.

But have you ever considered that those are actually two very similar situations interpreted in two very different ways? Have you ever considered that, quite likely, Muslims in the Middle East interpret 9/11 in the exact same way as we interpret Abu Ghraib, while they interpret mass killings of civilians by Westerners in the same way as we feel about terrorism? It is something that people never consider, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense and both sides are equally right/wrong.

After all, why do we think that terrorism is caused by an entire religion while we blame the killing and wounding of hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan on an individual? Is terrorism not also to blame on the individual who was insane enough to commit such terrible acts? Or is Abu Ghraib perhaps to blame on the Western system of Christianity and atheism? Perhaps atheism does make us lack the required morals to keep us from committing such awful crimes after all.

And this doesn’t just go for religion. Think of gay rights activism: generally we tend to think of ourselves as open-minded and the opposition as ignorant because we do have the required brain cells to understand that equal rights are supposed to be a given rather than something to be contested, but at the same time, when gay rights activists criticise a-sexuals for being weird and not belonging at a gay pride, we all immediately think “oh, those are just exceptions.” But are they really, or is a big part of the LGBT-community only in favour of equal rights because they happen to be affected by it themselves, and would they have been closed-minded homophobes if they had been straight as well?

Ultimately, it seems like we as humans are very good at shaping information in such a way that it fits our existing beliefs, especially positive beliefs about ourselves. Specifically, we are so good at it that we don’t even notice it anymore and that someone like me, who has been defending Islam for a long time, didn’t even realise that I myself was, and in all fairness still am, extremely ignorant of other people’s point of view. It’s a very sad characteristic of mankind, and the only way to at least diminish its effect is to keep it in mind and to constantly think about it. Because it really is about time we get rid of these destructive cultural barriers and become truly open-minded.

~

Hopefully that raises some questions, and I am very, very interested to hear what you think about it. Do you agree with what I said about the Middle East and Islam, or is Islam perhaps more destructive than Christianity and atheism after all? And how about gay rights activists? Are we really that open-minded or are we just lucky enough to lack ignorance on one specific subject, LGBT rights, while we are still just as ignorant as the rest of the world when it comes to any other issue?

Don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And if you’re new here? Feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates, or try having a look at the list of most popular posts!

More on this topic from Dean Richards:

Things You Shouldn’t Think You Know About Islam

We Are All Ignorant: Social Media and the News

Why The Qur’an Could Be Deceiving

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About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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4 Responses to Different Perspectives: The West Is No Less Violent Than The Middle East

  1. James says:

    I was in 7th grade when 9/11 happened. What I remember most clearly, besides the actual tower hits, was the news footage of different Middle Eastern countries before anyone really knew who was responsible. The streets were full of civilians celebrating. I don’t know what to make of your post, but I think that is at least one external evidence of real difference – not that any Western country is superior, but that you would not ever see Times Square filled with people celebrating the death of thousands of innocent people. The death of one terrorist leader (Bin Laden)? Apparently so. Who knows.

    • “The streets were full of civilians celebrating” is a very big exaggeration, though. Yes, there were small-scale celebrations in Palestine, but then again, the US was basically at war with Palestine. Of course, that doesn’t excuse those people, but when the enemy suffers a defeat, people often do get rather happy.

      Now, I don’t know what the news in your country was like at that time, but the “celebrations on the streets” might very, very well have been celebrations about something completely different at a completely different point in time. The media is good at that, and once footage like that is credited to a certain event, it will spread like a wildfire.

      I am not saying that there were no celebrations or that those people should be excused, but there definitely weren’t as many celebrations as people were led to believe.

      Also… the atom bombs on Japan were widely supported and cheered for in the US as well as in Europe. It seems like innocent victims don’t always matter much to the public when there’s a war on.

  2. I agree with what you are saying. And when you ask “But have you ever considered that those are actually two very similar situations interpreted in two very different ways?” I’d say YES.
    Also, it is very important for us to realize that it is not religion itself that generates violence. Religions, patriotism, homeland security etc… all those things are just a mask to incite the masses to gather together so world leaders will reach their aim. You can kick religions out this and that country, but as long as power and money will be the society’s main core, violence won’t be unrooted. But the majority doesn’t realize that and still blame the -isms; that’s why people love listening to “Imagine” by John Lennon. It’s about diversity, you can’t call diversity off and think the world will reach the nirvana.
    One last thing, isn’t muslim extremism a consequences of centuries of western cultural and economical imperialism?

    • It is yeah, especially considering the fact that Muslims are not allowed to kill anyone unless the other party started the war, meaning that without that imperialism and without the attacks on Iraq/Afghanistan etc, terrorism would never have been able to exist.

      Then again, that of course doesn’t excuse it and right now that is not something that can be reversed anymore.

      And yes, you’re absolutely right about the rest as well. In fact, I’d say violence and mass murder will never be unrooted, no matter how “perfect” society in general might become.

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