Helping the Bad Guys Succeed
I’m sitting at my computer wearing a pendant that reads, in Arabic, “There is no God but God”. I‘m not a Muslim. I’m wearing it in sympathy for the many innocent Muslims who will suffer more hatred as a result of the Fort Hood killings by Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
Whether he was simply deranged or a terrorist doesn’t much matter. He’s a Muslim, and he killed a lot of people. He apparently, as do the mentally ill in crisis, gave many signals that something was very wrong, in advance of the attack. Whether out of misguided political correctness, lack of communication, apathy, or whatever, these signals were not communicated to anyone who could stop him. But changing that part is another story.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world, comprising 22.8% of the population. According to a recent Gallup finding from an ongoing, eight-year-long poll of the Muslim world, only 7% of Muslims worldwide thought the September 11 attack was completely justified. In their reasoning, none of them mentioned religion. Less than one percent are actual terrorists, yet these few are skewing world opinion as if they represented the mainstream of Islam.
They’re only a small group. There aren’t enough of them to win.
The only way they can beat us is to convince us that they count, that they’re bigger and more important than they are.
Nineteen men, using our airplanes, took down the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon and a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania. Did nineteen men cause us to start a war against a country that did not send them here?
Did these nineteen men cause us to change from a powerful melting pot of a free, inclusive country to a group of skittish little old ladies hiding behind blackout curtains, frying pans at the ready?
God forbid that it be so.
These little guys and their nasty, mean spirited cohorts are deviants, like Jim Jones or the Ayatollah Khomeni, or the Reverend Moon. They are small, wrong thinking rats in a world of good people. They have veered all the way out of any mainstream religion.
Rumi, the world-renowned Muslim poet of the 13th century, said: “Come, come again, whoever you are, come! Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are.”
That is exactly the founding refrain of the United States of America. “Come, you troubled and persecuted people from everywhere in the world. Come, Puritans and Pilgrims, prisoners, adventurers, Italians, Chinese railroad workers, gay people, and Hessian soldiers…come, be yourselves, and, with your work and your contribution, create the greatest society on earth.
Many people say the Koran promotes violence against unbelievers. I have not read the whole thing. I have, however, questioned scholars of the Koran at some length and read selected verses, looking up several that were said to call for violence and war against unbelievers. I have never been able to find a verse in the Koran that promotes violence, except in the case of self defense or crime. Even then, the fighters are commanded to stop if their attacker relents.
The Koran is filled with admonitions toward humility, mercy toward others, helping the unfortunate, partnership between men and women.
In Mohammad’s final sermon, he said: “Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another.”
The vast, vast majority of Muslims decry violence and terrorism. Most of the victims are Muslim.
It’s hard not to be filled with hate and fear in the face of secret, surprise terrorist attacks. It’s hard also for us, Americans living in geographical isolation from other societies, to really get that other people are perfectly happy thinking and living differently than we do. We can’t even imagine it.
Even if we do look deeply into other cultures, it’s hard to accept one that’s dramatically different. I’ve been blessed to live in a culture where facial expression was the only way you could tell whether the answer to a question was yes or no. I’ve been where people walk into the street without looking because they know, if they get hit by a car, it was their fate.
Still, I have problems understanding and accepting cultural differences at times, even such as women wearing head coverings, a practice of many Muslims and many orthodox Jews, and one that I grew up with in the Catholic Church. The only difference is that many of the orthodox Jewish women wear wigs as their head covering, so no one knows.
Their religious beliefs or cultural practices are none of my business, though, as long as they don’t cause danger, or violate my country’s laws, as long as these varied people are responsible members of society. It is my responsibility as an American to embrace diversity, knowing it is the root of our greatness.
I treasure my membership in a society that is rich, powerful and inclusive. If we don’t take a stand for our values, we’re helping the bad guys, the nasty, hateful little vermin, too few to beat us, succeed.