THE BLOG
07/20/2015 03:26 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2016

Franklin Graham Should Worry About Radicalizing Right-Wing Christians, Not Muslims

Stephen Chernin via Getty Images

In his July 17 Facebook post, Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, spewed unhinged hatred and bigotry against American Muslims. Writing his response to the Chattanooga shooting, Graham used language that can only succeed in radicalizing Americans:

We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized--and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn't allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we've got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates.

Consider if a major Muslim cleric in Pakistan wrote, "We are under attack by Christians at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Christians to our land until this threat with Christianity has been settled. Every Christian that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized--and they do their killing to honor their religion and Jesus." Such language would, and does, radicalize ignorant youth. It fosters terrorism. Graham's language has the potential to foster similar terrorism--indeed such language has done just when used to justify oppression of minorities in American history.

For example, during World War II, racists and bigots argued that all Japanese immigrants and natural born Japanese Americans are a threat and must be treated as such without exception. Graham compares the act of one deranged individual, Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, to the Nazi and Japanese world war on all of humanity. He demonizes all Muslims in virtually the same language used 70 years ago to demonize all Japanese. Notwithstanding the ensuing horrific concentration camps Japanese Americans suffered through, Graham insinuates a similar solution to Muslims and encourages his millions of followers to "let your Congressman know we've got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates." Even today, Japanese Americans recall the barbarity of having gates closed around them as they were stripped of their fundamental human rights and civil liberties.

The above horrific proposal notwithstanding, none of the Islamophobic bigotry Graham spews is even remotely accurate.

For example, the New York Times reports that:

The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police." And they back it up with hard facts, adding that in America, "...the 20 plots that were carried out [by Muslim extremists] accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years. In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

In short, in the time Muslim extremists have committed 20 plots, right-wing terrorists--most of whom are ostensibly white and Christian--have committed roughly 4,000 acts of terror. Frighteningly, neo-Nazi terrorist organizations report a rise in recruits since the Charleston shooting. But surely Graham condemned right-wing terrorism just last month when Dylann Roof murdered nine innocent black Americans, right? Not in the least, and his hypocrisy is shameful at best.

For example, as of July 18 Graham's above Islamophobic Facebook post has 161,000 likes. Meanwhile over a month later Graham's soft condemnation of the Charleston shooting has 1,600 likes. Why the massive disparity? Graham didn't bother posting a condemnation of the Charleston terrorist attack on his own Facebook page. He resorted to a side page that receives hardly the same level of attention--almost as if he was trying to hide that a white supremacist who might have a Christian background committed terrorism. This hypothesis is further validated when we consider that Graham's comments on the Charleston attack doesn't mention terrorism, white supremacy or racism.

His hypocrisy is further perplexing when we compare the Chattanooga shooting with the Charleston shooting. Abdulazeez has a confirmed history of drug and alcohol abuse, was off his anti-depressant medication, had illegal access to guns, and so far no evidence indicates any link to terrorist organizations. Every sign indicates that he was a deranged, high, and confused individual. We don't even know his state of mind when he committed his act of terrorism--was he high or drunk again?

Meanwhile Dylann Roof has no such history of drug and alcohol abuse, received a gun for his birthday, and was radicalized by a white supremacist Christian terrorist organization. He specifically targeted the Charleston church due to its iconic role in black history, and sat with the congregants for an hour before finally consciously deciding to murder them one by one.

In contrast to his anti-Muslim crusade, Graham is comparatively silent to all of this terrorism done by a white racist with ties to a Christian terrorist organization. And as racists set fire to black churches in the weeks after the Charleston shooting, Graham remained silent. And as thousands of Muslim Americans raised over $100,000 (of which I was fortunate to contribute) to re-build those black churches just as the Qur'an 22:40 teaches, Graham has remained silent. And as an American Muslim Marine wrote a passionate op-ed in USA Today (that has since gone viral) to honor his fallen Marine brothers, Graham has remained silent.

But where Graham hasn't remained silent is in exercising every opportunity (for example see here and here) to demonize Muslim Americans. Recall earlier this year Duke University was forced to cancel its Muslim call to prayer due to a "credible and serious security threat," received after Graham commanded his followers to protest the event.

American Muslims detest terrorism and are working actively to combat all radicalization. At nearly one attack a day, however, right-wing terrorism is a growing epidemic. Graham must stop his crusade to radicalize Americans.

Because right now he's taking the lead in making America a more dangerous and intolerant place.

Qasim Rashid is an attorney and author. His next book #TalkToMe, which shows how dialogue can overcome radicalism, is due out in December. Follow him on Twitter @MuslimIQ.