Well, quite a lot actually. After all, it is a form of bigotry. I served in Iraq, and (full disclosure) some Muslims did try to kill me. But, to be frank, if ALL Muslims had tried to kill me I would not be writing this blog post today. In fact, in Iraq, I worked with Muslim Americans who served as interpreters, and they were some darn good folks to know.
Bigotry is sustained by wilful ignorance. Sadly, bumper stickers reading, “All I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11,” are taken as doctrine by some people. That’s obviously horse crap, but they refuse to see it that way. I mean, just follow that logic and see where it leads. Do you know all you need to know about Germans based on World War II? Do you know all you need to know about the British from the Boston Massacre? Clearly not, so why the double standard?
The answer is fear.
Germany and Britain are no longer a threat but Islamic terrorists are, and they are afraid. And in that state of fear, they pull their blankets of ignorance up above their heads and refuse to hear anything else on the subject believing themselves safe so long as they stay under the covers. It is a sad state of affairs to be sure—because, in this day and age, ignorance is entirely optional, it has to be chosen, and many people are choosing. You keep your head under the covers to be safe, but this actually increases the danger, by not allowing you to see where any real threats are. And it endangers innocent people.
Heck, a quick Wikipedia check will teach you more about Islam than 9/11 ever could. Within the first paragraph, you’ll read that Islam is an Abrahamic religion, which means that it shares certain teachings with Judaism and Christianity. Islam first became a thing about in the year 600 CE when Mohammed is said to have received revelations from God. His revelations were subsequently written down in a book called the Quran, and Muslims are expected to turn to that book for lifelong guidance. Naturally, to get the full picture one must go a little deeper.
For one thing, the Quran is a fairly thick book that tends to ramble about (It seems that God’s revelation did not include a table of contents). Furthermore, some passages seem to contradict each other. For instance Surah 8:67 states, “It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land…” While Surah 2:208 states, “O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace…” Muslims scholars have great disagreements about how to best interpret the Quran. These disagreements have led to schisms within the Muslim community and even the occasional war.
Now, when you think about it, Christianity has a very similar history and a similarly thick book. And the Bible even seems to contradict itself just as often. For instance; 1 Samuel says, “…Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,” while Matthew 26:52 reads, “Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” No wonder Christians have split into so many denominations and have also occasionally gone to war with each other.
People are people.
Have you ever met a person who claims to be a Christian and is also a major jerk? I’m guessing the answer is “yes.” Travel amongst the Muslims long enough and I guarantee you’ll meet a major jerks just as often. Why? Because we are all human!
The truth is—it’s not so much our stated religion that affects how we behave as much as our own unique personality and moral choices. Regardless, most folks just want to take care of their families, keep their jobs, pursue a hobby or two and be left alone. Our religious beliefs are largely a result of our upbringing. More often than not, people claim the same religion that their parents did. After that, some people take great care to live devoutly in accordance with their faith and others not so much. In my life, I’ve eaten bacon with Muslims and drunk coffee with Mormons, and neither seemed to care that they were violating a religious rule. So, when people insist to me that all Muslims are a certain way, I roll my eyes every time.
So what’s up with radical Islamic terrorism?
I’m glad you asked. Many countries with large Muslim populations are in a bit of a pickle right now. Their economies are in bad shape, and most of the governments are dictatorships. Also, western nations always seem to be butting into their business politically and militarily. Naturally, people in these countries often feel powerless and frustrated. Since they cannot change their situation economically or politically they often turn to God for help. But although God might hear all prayers, he certainly doesn’t answer them on our schedule. So, in desperation, some take it upon themselves to do God’s job for him, and that’s where you get the radical Islamic terrorism.
Needless to say, the vast majority of every-day Muslims look at terrorists as bad apples. Like I said earlier, most folks just want to live their lives in peace and don’t appreciate the drama. But, like Christian groups such as the Klu Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church, Muslim terrorists are all about the drama and will not leave well enough alone. I’ve seen Klansmen interviewed on the news and heard them talk about wanting to separate the races. Islamic terrorists have a similar goal (because they’re a similar type of lowlife).
The terrorists want to separate the Muslim from the non-Muslim. Basically, they want to isolate the Muslim community from all outside influence so that they can be in complete control over their brethren, and in this terrorist goal the KKK has been very helpful to them.
In fact, the KKK has done its level best to help Islamic terrorists separate Christian from Muslim. After every attack, terrorists can count on a lift from bigots who drive Muslims from their neighborhoods, schools, and businesses. This puts your every-day Muslim in a bind; they don’t want to hang with the terrorists, but they are tired of being harassed whenever they hang with the non-Muslims. Thus the cycle of bigotry and hate continues to the advantage of the lowlifes of both Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
And that is where it is up to us to stop it!
After all, we are Americans, and we are better than this. Our First Amendment guarantees us the freedom to practice any religion we please. Our fellow citizens are Christians, Atheists, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and whatever (Unitarians). Religion in America has traditionally been viewed as someone’s personal business and not a matter for public input. Thus, we have lived in our diverse salad bowl of a nation for generations, and I see no reason why we should change our ways now. And I certainly do not intend to cave to the will of either the bigots or the terrorists.
What is it the Bible says in Matthew 7:1-6? “Judge not others, lest ye yourself be judged.” Whether the person sitting next to you on a train is wearing a yarmulke or a hijab makes no difference. Only a person’s behavior can tell you if they are a good person or not. And based on that behavior, I will decide how to interact with them. Because, at the end of the day, bigotry is cowardice, and I do not prize that trait.
By Clayton J. Callahan