Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Hole Islam Has Dug for Itself

For just about my entire life there has been a perennial reminder of the militant Muslim - throwing rocks at Israeli tanks, hijacking airliners and occasionally blowing them up, attacking crowded public spaces the world over. They often wore some sort of scarf, wrapping, or mask, obscuring their faces and making them appear menacing.

For much of my life these images would pop up periodically in the news when some splinter group of very angry militants - usually angry at Israel or American support for Israel - would do one of the above. Sometimes there was a pretty good reason for the anger, at least from what I could tell: occupation of Palestinian territory, invasion of Beirut in the 1980's, etc. Other times the nexus between the act and the anger did not really exist, like when Pan Am 103 was bombed over Scotland, or when the Achille Lauro was hijacked and Leon Klinghoffer was murdered.

Then September 11, 2001, changed many things. First, it was an attack upon the United States or America, which was something new. Sure, American targets had been hit in the past, and even recently prior to 9/11, but not U.S. soil.

Second, there had never been a terrorist attack of that magnitude. Never had such a terrible act been worked; never had so many people been killed; never had the disregard for innocent civilian life been greater; never had an open society ever been so taken advantage of. Even though Europe had experienced many terrorist attacks from Muslim, radical leftist Red Army Factions, Basque and Irish Republican groups, nothing could compare with the atrocity of September 11, even when piled upon one another.

The world was aghast, even those places where "they hate us," like Tehran, where there were small, brief and spontaneous demonstrations in support of the United States. In fact, even the then President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami came out and said: “My deep sympathy goes out to the American nation, particularly those who have suffered from the attacks and also the families of the victims,” he said. “Terrorism is doomed, and the international community should stem it and take effective measures in a bid to eradicate it.”

Eight years later where are the moderate Muslims?

In that time the United States and her allies, what former President George W. Bush called the "Coalition of the Willing" invaded and toppled the terrorist supporting regime in Afghanistan and the autocratic ruler of Iraq. Yet Muslim terror has not abated. See: the London Metro Attacks, the Madrid railway bombing, and the bombing of the nightclub in Bali, as well as recent military action taken by Saudi Arabia on her border with Yemen. There have also been various plots and/or attacks across the globe, including India, the United States, as well as continued strife in Israel/Palestine which were perpetrated by Muslims, though they may or may not have been part of a larger Muslim terrorist group or effort. The recent tragedy at Fort Hood I would classify under this latter category.

While I have waited, for years now, I have yet to hear the voice of the moderate Muslims who decry these acts in the name of their religion. Rather, their silence has, over this time, cast a pall upon their faith, permitting others - inside and outside Islam - to define them.

Let me be clear: I am wanting to hear these voices. I know that there are hundreds and hundreds of millions of Muslims across the globe that do not hate the United States, or our "freedom," that could not care a wit about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and only want to live their lives in peace and prosperity. Many of them are in India, Pakistan, Indonesia - the three largest Muslim populations in the world - and tens of millions of them are here in the United States.

But their silence - or perhaps their lack of exposure, to be fair - has resulted in institutionalized hatred against Islam out of fear of Islamic fundamentalism.

On November 30, 2009, The New York Times, among other news sources, reported that the Swiss have passed a popular referendum outlawing future building of minarets, aka prayer towers, on existing mosques. See the full article at:

My live and let live instincts are terribly disturbed by the Swiss and their very discriminatory referendum, which, in the case of Swiss Muslims, is pretty much baseless. On the other hand, Muslim communities, by their acts or omissions, have done a great deal to make their own bed. I cite the truly ridiculous controversy over the Muslim backlash a few years back to cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten:

According to the article, France is also considering its own anti-Muslim law, where full veils would be outlawed to stop the influence of more fundamentalist forms of Islam.

And while no such measures are being considered in the United States, I can attest that my I have experienced my fellow Americans expressing overt and unfettered religious and cultural bigotry toward Muslims and Islam. These explosions of vitriol have come from all quarters: friends, family members, politicians, in addition to the self appointed "culture warriors."
The time has long passed for the greater part of Islam to stand up for itself. Yes, there have been some who have stood up and said what needs to be said. But out of the billion Muslims in this world there have been only those few. I need, for my own self, to hear less equivocation about Israel and more words about those who stain the name of one of the great faiths.
There was once a time, up to a half a millenia ago, when the real civilizations on earth were Muslim. European Christendom was barely out of a self imposed stone age during that time [think 700's to 1500's]. Fast forward to today and much of the Muslim world is still stuck in those Medieval times, but without the former glory. Yet great cities rise in the Muslim world, in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, among others. All is not dark.
Christendom underwent a Renaissance, Reformation and then an Enlightenment. The time has come for Islam to do the same.