Conservatives and Conservatarians’ Principles Run Scared in the Face of Islam


Editor’s Note: This was coauthored by Gina Luttrell (Editor-in-Chief) and Rachel Burger (Associate Editor). 

As details emerge about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers — one of whom is dead — who are the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing, I’m beginning to see a bit of a pattern in how some people are choosing to report on them:



As my friend put it:

The Daily Caller wants to make sure everyone knows that the dead suspect was a Muslim. Just for the record. Only trying to be objective. Just so we are clear. In case you missed it.

Where did this fine piece of stellar reporting come from, you ask? Well, instead of asking Tsarnaev’s friends and family, his neighbors, or his teachers, they decided to use some captions in pictures that a photographer took during his Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City.

They take a quote from one picture that says, “Tamerlan says he doesn’t usually take his shirt off so girls don’t get bad ideas: “I’m very religious.” The picture you ask? Him. Without a shirt. In front of his girlfriend (picture has since been removed). Another caption they take?

Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: “God said no alcohol.” A muslim, he says: “There are no values anymore,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”

Boy, when I was at CPAC 2013 this year, I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I heard that phrase, that sentiment, or those words spoken to me, by participants and by speakers over the weekend. Apparently thinking that America has no values and being very religious is completely okay — as long as you’re not a Muslim.

In contrast, reporters who, you know, actually went and talked to people that this man knew, got a completely different picture. From The Washington Post:

[Ty] Barros, who graduated in 2009, two years earlier than he said Jahar graduated, said he was not a close friend. But everybody knew everybody through the neighborhood and the high school, and they hung out casually. He said he has not seen Jahar for about a year.

“He was really easy going,” said Barros, a student at Bunker Hill Community College. “He didn’t seem like an angry kid.”

He said Jahar never talked politics or said much about the U.S., nor discussed the marathon.

Color me shocked.

It’s not just news outlets who are pulling this either. We’ve seen great sweeping generalizations about Islam popping up all over our news feeds from our friends — people we respect and some of whom claim to advocate for liberty.

Conservatives and conservatarians claim to be the great defenders of individualism. In vehement opposition to collectivism, Sarah Palin declared that American leadership should be “ending the poisonous practice of treating members of different social, ethnic and religious groups as different electorates, pandered to with different promises.” If all men are created equal, as the Declaration of Independence states, Palin said, then there are “no Hispanic issues or African-American issues or women’s issues — there are only American issues.”

But if there is one group that conservatives frequently collectivize, it’s the people of the Muslim faith.

We would like to remind conservatives—and any member of the social media witch hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—that this boy has not seen his day in court. The evidence is based on his location at the time of the bombing, and a backpack. If you were a jury, would you be so ready to condemn him?

We are concerned that the added fact that he is Muslim (and we don’t even know if he is) is being used as some form of misplaced evidence that he was involved in the Boston Bombings.

If Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are responsible for the bombings, they did a terrible thing, but they are spokesmen for no one but themselves. They are outliers in the generally peaceful and charitable Islamic religion. The fact that they might have been violent and might have been religious Islamists may not even correlate.

The mighty conservatives and libertarians who so champion individualism utterly fail, here, to consistently apply the principles they claim to espouse: due process under law, innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to be judged by the content of one’s character and not by some group identity placed upon you.

And all because the suspects may be Muslim. Seriously? What these folks are doing is discrimination, plain and simple, and it’s the most un-individualistic thing that they could possibly do. Where are your principles now?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Is it really surprising that conservatives respond this way though? That they choose to focus on the fact that these young men are of the Muslim faith? You say yourself in the article that Muslims are the most often collectivized by conservatives, so I don’t find it particularly noteworthy that a conservative news outlet chose to react in such a way upon discovering that one or both of these boys practiced Islam. I do agree that it is a form of discrimination though and the suspects’ faith should really be a non factor in this whole situation. Criminals who are not Muslim never get their faith broadcast to the world on a news report. I can’t remember a newscaster stopping to note when a wanted man was Christian or Jewish. It only seems to happen when suspected criminals are Muslim and it should not be that way. What people seem to be forgetting in this case is that it has been confirmed that these men, regardless of religion and ethnicity, were legal American citizens.

    I also appreciate your point about these men being simply suspects at this point and not having been tried, however I think it’s also important to remember in this situation that there is surely a lot of information that we as the public are not yet privy to about these men and the bombings that occurred. I also seriously hazard to say that these men may be innocent – why else would they have led police on this firefight and manhunt if they were not guilty or in some way involved? Actions speak quite loudly and I think in this case the actions of these men are quite damning. Are the 12 people that will be on the jury of the second suspect (assuming he is captured alive) supposed to ignore what has been on the news for the past 12 hours now?

    • KhartoumHero

      You do know that criminals are motivated by completely different set of impulses, right? We don’t broadcast the religion of common criminals because that isn’t generally among those impulses motivating them. But that doesn’t mean we can’t identify their underlying impulses.

      • Concerned Citizen

        It’s a fair point to say that criminals operate on and are motivated by different impulses than law abiding citizens. But I think it is a generalization to say that religion doesn’t motivate the “common” criminal. What defines a common criminal? Someone who shoplifts, murders, rapes? You cannot say with any more certainty than I can that those types of crimes are not motivated by religion – it’s just assumed that American criminals (ie – criminals born and raised in America, not naturalized immigrants) aren’t committing those crimes because of religious beliefs. But we can’t know that for certain because no one bothers to ask those questions for more common, dare I say every day, crimes.

        Only when a criminal is Muslim or has ties to Islam or even looks like they come from the Middle East / Eastern Europe do we say that religion must have motivated their actions. We don’t know if religion had anything at all to do with the Boston bombings; all we know is that the suspects appear to have ties to Islamic faith. It may turn out that religion was a motivating factor, but you cannot say that with certainty at the moment and to do so is to discriminate against the suspects because of their religion.

        Furthermore, it is unfair to lump all Muslims together and assume that they are all capable of terroristic actions, which is what is happening now. Like any religion, there is a spectrum of view points that ranges from conservative to liberal to radical. Take Christianity for example – there are liberal Christians and there is the Westboro Baptist Church. Not all Christians are like the WBC and most people don’t lump all Christians into the category of extremely conservative and hateful based solely on the general information that a person is a Christian. If all you knew about someone was that they were a Christian – nothing else – would you automatically assume that they shared the same views and prejudices as the WBC? That type of assumption is exactly what Muslims are facing. Based on simply the information that someone is Muslim, they are being discriminated against and are assumed to be America hating terrorists, which is a damaging and dangerous way of thinking.

        • KhartoumHero

          This is all sounding like a quibble over knowledge, statistical probabilities, and a pathological, irrational fear of anything that looks like discrimination, no matter how rational.

          The contortions needed to avoid “discrimination” are headache-inducing.

          Let’s put this in different terms. A black man is found hanged from a tree in the woods. It is found that a white supremacist is the one who killed him.

          Now, we can take your approach and say that his ideology might not have been his motive. You can’t discriminate against white supremacists. After all, most of them don’t go around murdering black folks. So it’s unfair to lump them in all together.

          Is it possible that the white supremacist was just being a criminal? Sure. Is it possible that his choice of victim and method of execution had nothing at all to do with his ideology? Sure. But in a world where the victim, the method, and the ideology are strongly correlated, it would be stupid to place equal weight on the “he’s just a criminal not motivated by ideology” with the ideological motivation.

          This is what this anti-discrimination nonsense gets us. Non-thinking stupidity with absurd demands like that. If Muslims were not responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts around the world, if they weren’t following the religion founded by a man who was himself a terrorist, if these were Buddhists we were talking about, you might have a point. But no. When a Muslim sets off a bomb in a public place, the first thing we are going to assume – given limited knowledge – is that he was acting on his religion. Not that he just wanted to blow people. Oh, and by the way, happened to be a Muslim.

  • KhartoumHero

    Is this really that difficult to understand? We aren’t the ones “collectivizing” Muslims. We are merely taking them at their word that to be Muslim means to believe in all the tenets of Islam. We aren’t the ones collectivizing them. To claim adherence to well-defined set of beliefs is a kind of self-collectivization. If one self-identifies as a Muslim, then it is implied that one believes the faith should be spread through violence, as commanded by the Quran. It is implied that one follows the command by Mohammad himself that anyone who leaves the faith must suffer the punishment of death. To be a Muslim is to believe that Mohammad is the perfect man, and that his method should be followed precisely when spreading the faith. This includes violent jihad.

    You can’t criticize us for treating people collectively who collectively follow a set of beliefs that influence their actions. All we’re doing is pointing out the rules that come with membership in that collective.

  • Madfoot713

    You can acknowledge Islamic extremism is a serious problem without generalizing all Muslims. Political correctness on the left is as bad as racism on the right when it comes to these kinds of things. Both make it impossible for us to deal with the issues productively, and enable demagogues.

  • Anand Venigalla

    My opinion on this is that Islam could have been a motivating factor for the Boston bombers. While there is indeed a peaceful element in Islam, this only lasted for a while. Remember, Mohammed started out as a peace-loving merchant, but later when people refused to accept it, Mohammed began to turn into a warmongering, proto-neocon figure who advocated militarism and violence. While most Muslims are not warmongerers like the terrorists are, they seem to fall under the illusion that there should be such a thing as “hate crimes” when something is said that offends them.

    As an evangelical conservative Christian and political libertarian myself, I can understand why some might focus on Islam when a supposed Muslim male extremist perpetrates such a violent act. There is substantial evidence that the Koran has pro-violence passages (see here: However, as a libertarian, I recognize that does not justify interventionism and a government war against Islam; the war against Islam shouldn’t be fought with by murderous, immoral, illegal wars, but rather with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    For a libertarian Christian perspective on this issue, see these two articles:


  • Anand Venigalla

    Actually, for the two articles I linked, if those links don’t work, here are more accurate links: and