Terrorist Fear Emerges as Biggest Threat to Diversity on Campus and Our Nation

Updated Dec 9, 2015
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has encouraged students on campus to get permits to carry concealed guns to counter any possible armed attack in the wake of the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks.Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has encouraged students on campus to get permits to carry concealed guns to counter any possible armed attack in the wake of the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks.

If campuses were as politically correct as some people want us to believe, you’d think after the San Bernardino shootings there’d be a lot more warm and fuzzy talk about freedom, community and what it means to be American.

Rally time, right?

Nope.

America is getting even crazier than you thought. It’s gripped by an irrational fear.

It’s acting terrorized, if you will. And at least one college is acting on it in a downright un-American way.

The oddly named Liberty University in Virginia may be the most Islamophobic college in the nation.

Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., yes the son of that Jerry Falwell, wants its students to really be prepared for the future.

Falwell’s advice is simple: Start carrying concealed weapons.

I guess you could read up on different cultures and try to understand other people. That would be giving it the old college try. But why use brain power when a bullet can simply end the argument?

And why stop with students? Staff and faculty at Liberty are being encouraged to gun-up as well. If the boss is packing heat, why not?

In his way of setting a good example, Falwell himself has added a bulge to his back pocket. Not that a .25 caliber pistol stands a chance against an assault rifle. But I guess he feels the need for something greater than a cross. And it’s all in the name of getting those Muslims before they get us.

“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell Jr. reportedly said at a Friday convocation before 10,000 people at the Christian college.

“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell added.

He’s such a true believer; Liberty even offers a free class on how to legally carry a gun.

I hope most of you are in very non-Falwell type schools. Because even if Falwell is an extreme case, it’s a bit scary and important to note.

But first, in the name of “tolerance,” let’s try for a moment to entertain Falwell’s idea.

Is there anything positive about your student body packing heat?

Maybe a school could cut back on security since the policy has created a vigilante war zone?

But then what happens after the first argument over something as inane as a parking space or who gets to pick the class party music?

Maybe it would lead to dropping expensive athletics like Liberty’s football team the Flames, because fake violence just doesn’t compare to the constant potential of real gun violence?

No, there is nothing positive about a campus where everybody is armed.

It’s the wrong answer to the problem.

But it is an example of Islamophobia as bad as anything I’ve seen. It’s irrational. It’s uncalled for. It’s un-American.

It’s the reason we needed the president’s talk scheduled for Sunday night.

It’s not enough to say, “Go about your business. Don’t let the terrorists win.” The country needs reassurances that something concrete is being done, especially against the “terrorist-next-door,” whom no one knows about yet, not even the suspected next door neighbor.

But extreme reactions like Falwells’ and pronouncements from people who would be president to register Muslims or investigate mosques do exactly what we don’t want.

This is the stuff that angers and radicalizes Muslims all over the world.

That’s the way terrorists win, by leveraging our fear.

How do you stop that?

Well, you start by not stereotyping and scapegoating an entire culture or religion.

Every Islamic leader in America has condemned the San Bernardino shootings. And that’s even before there is any definitive evidence connecting the shooters to an active terrorist cell or organization.

All we have is fear. And fear is working.

And the most violent example of Islamophobia comes from a campus leader.

Funny how Falwell and many others are quick to generalize against Islam.

After the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert L. Dear Jr. was arrested recently, I didn’t hear many people taking a hardline against bible-thumping White Baptists who live in RVs and are armed to the hilt.

We could have, but that would have seemed ridiculous.

But not when it comes to Americans of South Asian descent who are Muslims. The racists spew their hate and hide behind their anti-terrorist fears.

That’s a real threat to our sense of a diverse nation.

Let’s hope the president’s Sunday talk was enough to save America from its own fears.

The alternative is unbecoming.

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes at http://www.aaldef.org/blog  and reports for NBCNews.com.