Ever since the "war on terrorism" morphed into the "war on Islam" or "the war on Muslims" or "the war on radical Muslims," I have warned people who subscribe to this notion: Do not go out and start killing Muslims in this so-called war because U.S. authorities at the state level will charge you with murder.
Unfortunately, there have been those who haven't gotten the message. One of those is a Londoner, who just ran a vehicle into a group of people leaving a mosque. Another is a 22-year-old Virginia man who just killed a teenage Muslim girl.
While we still do not know the exact motive for the killings, it is likely that they were motivated, at least in part, in both cases by the "we are at war with Islam" or the "we are at war with Muslims" mindset.
Under the law, it is a criminal offense to kill someone without legal justification. If you do so, you will be charged and prosecuted for murder. If you're found guilty, you will be punished with incarceration, fine, and possibly even execution.
The law recognizes that killing the enemy in wartime is one of those legal justifications that immunize a soldier from criminal prosecution. When someone kills the enemy on the battlefield, he cannot be prosecuted and punished for murder. (It's different if a soldier kills an enemy soldier in captivity or commits other war crimes.)
After the Cold War ended in 1989, which caused the U.S. government to lose its official Cold War enemies, the Soviet Union and communism, the U.S. government went into the Middle East and began killing people, including hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with 11 years of brutal sanctions that caused deadly illnesses among the Iraqi populace.
Most of the victims were Muslims. Therefore, it should have surprised no one that when retaliatory attacks ultimately came, both before and after 9/11, they came from Muslims.
Rather than focus on the U.S. government's actions in the Middle East as the motivating factor behind the attacks, a segment of Americans decided to focus instead on Islam and Muslims as the root of the problem. Steadfastly refusing to criticize the U.S. government and especially the Pentagon and the CIA, they convinced themselves that the problem lay in a supposed centuries-old quest of Muslims to take over the world, including the United States.
Before long, Islam and Muslims had replaced the Soviet Union and the communism as America's official bugaboo. The Muslims are coming to get us, the sentiment went, just as the Russians and communists were supposedly coming to get us during the Cold War.
The people who subscribed to this line failed to notice one glaring fact: That their overarching fear of Islam and Muslims was entirely new — that is, that it took control over their minds after the 9/11 attacks. Before that, their minds were consumed with fear of Russia and the Reds.
When it was the Soviet Union, rather than the United States, doing the occupying of Afghanistan, the U.S. government partnered with and supported the extremist Muslims who were trying to rid Afghanistan of the Soviet occupiers. Ironically, the people today who say that the problem is with Islam and Muslims cheered the U.S. government's partnership with and support of those extremist Muslims in Afghanistan. That's because there was no concern about Islam or Muslims during the Cold War. The fear that people had during that time, again, was with the Soviets and the commies.
Another fascinating aspect of this phenomenon is that the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 succeeded in installing official Islamic regimes in both countries. Just look at their constitutions (here and here). The constitution of Afghanistan states: "Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic." The constitution of Iraq states: "Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation."