Islamic Fundamentalism is to Islam as ________________ is to Christianity.
If you’re a fan of West Wing, then you may remember the thought-provoking episode that aired shortly after the 9/11 attacks (portion embedded below my signature). In that particular episode, the character Josh Lyman explains to students that it is wrong to judge an entire religion based on a handful of lunatics that use their religion as an excuse for inhumane acts. We don’t think of the KKK as Christians and we don’t attribute the KKK’s actions to the Church. So why would we attribute the horrific acts of Islamic fundamentalists to the entire Muslim religion? As a shell-shocked nation searching for blame, we needed to learn that lesson. Nine years later, many are still struggling with that task.
Between the debate over acceptable locations for a Muslim Community Center, physical violence against Muslims, and the burning of Quran’s, the persecution against Muslims seems to have only worsened.
When does it end?
Americans need to be careful to make sure that the freedom of which we boast is a freedom consonant with American values, and not an America premised on euphemism, bumper sticker mentalities, and flat-out hypocrisy. Americans cannot claim to believe in and stand for American values — values that stand for pluralism, equality, tolerance, and coexistence — while demonizing an entire religious group. We claim to be better than repressive governments that are intolerant of difference. So let’s either be better or abandon the pretense.
Don’t fly the flag of tolerance while extolling bigotry. Don’t claim to believe in freedom of religion while protesting the construction of an Islamic Community Center. If we’re really for freedom of religion, then any street in this country should be able to peacefully house Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques.
This nation has a long history of persecuting various religious, racial, and ethnic groups, something that goes against the very core of the origin of the United States. It is constitutionally and ethically wrong and unjust to persecute the Muslim people. Muslims are not responsible for 9/11 and they should not be held accountable for the Islamic fundamentalists responsible for terrorizing our nation. We need to stop protesting their community centers and Mosques. Instead, we need to help build them.
As we take the time to observe September 11th, we need to work harder to eradicate the ignorance and fear that lurks behind outward hateful discrimination. We need to counter the hate-mongers and the political and religious leaders and media outlets that ignite these firestorms of hate and fear. Apathy will not work here anymore. If we want to coexist more peacefully, we need to act like it.