As the terrorist attack against Paris unfolded Friday, a moment that Americans experienced in the strange semi-togetherness of social media, something prompted the prominent conservative commentator Erick Erickson to declare on Twitter, “If your biggest concern is anti-Muslim backlash you aren’t a serious person.”
88 people retweeted that thought, and over one hundred “liked” it.
My biggest concern that night was that the active shooters be stopped; that the wounded be saved; and that French security services mobilize to prevent any followup attacks. But for those of us thousands of miles away, powerless to help police or paramedics or French intelligence, an anti-Muslim backlash ought to have been among our biggest concerns, insofar as we could plausibly affect the likelihood of a backlash. So I don’t just want to persuade Erick Erickson to stop stigmatizing those who worry aloud that innocent members of a minority group might be victimized. I’d like him to join the chorus of voices declaring that a backlash would be abhorrent.
This is neither a call for political correctness nor an overblown fear.
After terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims, lots of individuals who are entirely innocent get attacked through no fault of their own. Hate crimes against American Muslims spiked tremendously after 9/11. Hate crimes against Sikhs increased too. In Britain, hate crimes soared after the London bombing. And after the attack on Charlie Hebdo earlier this year, The Independent reported that “twenty-six mosques around France have been subject to attack by firebombs, gunfire, pig heads, and grenades as Muslims are targeted with violence.”