We've already noted that denying Syrian refugees entry into the U.S. based solely on their religion only serves to further the terrorists' cause. The same holds true for hate crimes against innocent Muslims.
Since last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, there has been a surge in violence against Muslims who had absolutely nothing to do with those attacks. Two mosques in Florida received threatening phone messages, one of which involved talk of a firebombing. At the University of Connecticut on Saturday, someone scrawled the phrase, "killed Paris," on the door of a Muslim student's dorm room. And in an Austin, Texas suburb, leaders of a local Islamic center on Monday found a Quran torn up and covered in feces at the door of the mosque.
Some actually shrug off these incidents as no big deal compared to the atrocities committed by the terrorists. With an obviously sarcastic tone, RedState.com says anti-Muslim backlash "includes unverified reports of such horrors as the Eiffel Tower being spray painted on a Mosque, along with 'threatening phone calls' being placed to a mosque in Florida.
"Meanwhile, no actual acts of violence whatsoever against Muslims in either Europe or America have been reported since the Paris attacks," the website claims.
Except that's not true. The Associated Press reports that in Connecticut, the FBI and local police are investigating reports of multiple gunshots fired at a mosque in Meriden hours after the attack. A mosque in Peterborough, Ontario was set ablaze on Saturday, and on Monday a Muslim woman in Toronto was beaten up by two men who called her a terrorist.
The fact is, a recent FBI report shows that while the total number of religion-based hate crimes dipped by about a third between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of anti-Islamic offenses rose by about 5 percent during the same period.
And here's another interesting fact reported by the Washington-based think tank New America: Data released in June shows that since 9/11, white extremists have perpetrated more than twice as many acts of domestic terrorism than jihadists.
We've all heard the adage that violence begets more violence, hatred begets more hatred. And that is exactly what the terrorists want.
"Hatred is political currency, coveted by Al Qaeda and ISIL ... it plays into the hands of the terrorists, who assiduously nurture the false narrative that all non-Muslims hate Islam," wrote Bobby Ghosh for Quartz.com.
Such an environment takes a toll on individual Muslims as well as their communities, reports Christian Science Monitor,
"We are always then placed on the defensive, trying to protect ourselves, defend ourselves, and get through the day, instead of focusing on our work and what we love, instead of building our homes and communities," Zeinab Khalil, a graduate student at Yale University, told the Monitor.
It doesn't help that the current political climate is one that fosters divisions, the Monitor notes. Even before the largely partisan debate about the Syrian refugees, presidential candidates and others had already made headlines with remarks that painted Muslims and Islam in broad, negative strokes.
"Muslim identity has been so politicized," said Catherine Orsborn, campaign director for Shoulder to Shoulder, an initiative that promotes interfaith dialogue to end anti-Muslim sentiment. "That politicization has created this climate where people resist learning about Islam and Muslims."
That is exactly what terrorist groups such as the Islamic State seek to encourage.
"Terrorism as a strategy rests on the use of symbolic violence, particularly violence that provokes," said Randall Law, associate professor of history at Birmingham-Southern College, and the author of "Terrorism: A History," to the Monitor's Husna Haq. "And one of the most effective ways to do this is by using provocative violence that destroys the middle ground, that destroys the possibility of compromise, condominium, and negotiated settlement – the very backbone of life in a modern, multiethnic, multifaith liberal democracy."
He added, "This has become the essence of modern terrorism. And it has become a staple of radical Islamist and jihadist violence."
Just consider the fact that Americans' hatred toward Muslims after 9/11 opened the door for President Bush and his cronies to sell us on an illegal war against Iraq. And that war is what created the power vacuum and fostered the hatred that allowed ISIS to take root and flourish.
So stop doing the terrorists a favor and stop the hate.