Ask Michelle Bachman what her greatest concern is for our country, and she will likely say Islamic extremism. In fact, she even made sure to write to Charles Edwards, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, asking for an investigation into "the involvement of organizations and individuals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Department of Homeland Security activities and policies."
Wow, that sure seems frightening, especially coupled with former Prime Minister Tony Blair's declaration that "the West is asleep on the issue of Islamic extremism." Perhaps he forgot that decade-long war ... that's still going on.
Actually, even aside from Bachman's so-called witch-hunt and our record-breaking wars in the Middle East, it seems we can't get off the topic of Islam: Presidential candidate Rick Santorum called jihadism "evil"; Rep. Peter King held hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims; Sarah Palin sparked vicious protests against a proposed mosque and community center near Ground Zero.
Sure, most of these examples are blown widely out of proportion. But at least there is a recognition of something very dangerous -- something that has influenced several attacks against Americans.
But to act as though Islamic extremism presents some kind of unique threat is ignorant. According to a CNN report, right-wing extremists -- "white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and other right-wing militants" -- pose just as much, if not more, of a threat to the public as al Qaeda.
According to the report, militants linked to or inspired by al Qaeda have carried out four attacks in the United States since September 11, 2001. Right-wing extremists, on the other hand, have carried out at least eight.
I wish I could compile a list of congressional hearings, public outrage, and quotes from presidential candidates on the issue of right-wing extremism, but I can't. Absolutely nothing has been done to combat this form of terrorism even as we fight tirelessly against an equal threat.
In fact, the same individuals that are so concerned with Islamic extremism simultaneously perpetuate right-wing extremism: Mitt Romney, along with the Republican party, defends the right to hold concealed firearms, even after two massacres in the past month; Ms. Palin placed a cross-hair over Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's district, just before she was shot in the head.
So when people act so worried about the threat of Islam while at the same time neglecting an otherwise equal concern, you have to wonder what their goal is. It can't be to save lives, because then Bachmann would have written another letter on the issue of white supremacy and gun control.
If anything, at least we now know where our country stands. We don't fear Islamic extremism because it could take our lives; we fear it because we were taught to, because that's what everyone else seems to be afraid of. At the same time, when someone attacks in the name of something other than Islam, we claim it's an isolated incident, and look the other way.
Neglecting the real threats and blowing things out of proportion won't save lives or protect our country -- it will only breed ignorance and continue to divert our attention.