Will John McCain have the decency to apologize?
Mike Ghouse, Dallas
I turned the TV off on McCain this afternoon.
Every TV appearance I have watched in the last two months, even if it was for two minutes, Senator McCain unfailingly delivered his vitriol, "The greatest danger facing the world is Islamic Terrorism" and Governor Romney, who is off the radar now, used "Islamic Jihaad" to appease the right wing of the Republican party.
Senator McCain in his lust for power looses the basic American decency and courtesy to show respect for his fellow Americans who number 6 Million and I am one. It is an ironic number to remember.
When I turned the TV off, the words of Edmund Burke's quote came alive as a sad image, which was pointed out by a speaker at the Holocaust Museum recently. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Well my friends, I am doing my part. Indeed the world needs to be informed again and again about the Holocaust and how it began. Martin Niemöller's poem (first they came for the Jews…) resonates with me every day, when I see the eerie silence on the part of Media when a linguistic atrocity is committed right in front of their eyes.
When our President claimed they hate us for our freedom, not one media person asked for the proof or the polls, they consumed it gullibly. They, whoever they might be, do not hate America or Americans. Just as we do not hate any people but their governments, others do the same.
Manufacturing hate and fear to earn the support is shameful, but unfortunately that is the reality concocted by the Bush administration and the rightwing Republicans have imbibed it.
I am a Muslim and I am for America like 6 million other Muslims. We are Republicans and Democrats, we are religious as well as not religious, we are conservatives and liberals but mostly moderate just like most of the Americans.
Each one of us is contributing towards the peace and prosperity of our nation. We are taking the initiatives and putting in our efforts for one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.
On 9/11, I manned a Radio station for eight hours getting the Dallas community on the air, grieving with fellow Americans, organizing blood drives, wrote articles to prove to the enemies like Osama Bin Laden that all Americans are on the same side, irrespective of personal faith.
Since then every year, with the support of the Muslim community, I have dedicated my time on 9/11 to unite people, to bring people of all faiths, races and ethnicities to come together and pray for the safety and security of America, and rededicate our pledge to one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. To call Islam or Muslims as terrorists is offensive to me; I am not one, neither the six million of us are. If there is one, we are going to turn them over to the FBI, safety and security of our nation is as important to the 6 millions of as it is to the 294 Million others.
The fear mongers manufacture enemies to polarize the electorate for crass political advantage; Native Indians, African Americans, Jews, Wicca, Atheists and now Muslims are being targeted by them. Such short term gains are deleterious to peace and long term prosperity. As Americans, we need to stand up for each other for the good of every American.
Our leaders should demonstrate their leadership in building goodwill among all Americans and make America a model nation for coexistence and harmony. We need to make peace and prosperity as our goal and our leaders should take that pledge to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill. Every one will win at the end.
I expect Senator McCain to drop the hate rhetoric and apologize to Muslims in America, or at least have the decency not to use the words "Islamic Terrorism" or "Muslims Terrorism". Call Terrorism for what it is, do not suffix or prefix or hang my religion to the evil acts; fear mongering is also evil. I am a Muslim and all the Muslims that I know in America are working hard to keep us safe and secure. If you do not have moral courage to apologize, the least you can do is restore decency in your language.
Two decades ago, when I chose to become an American, I found myself in tune with the Republican party; liberty, less government, fiscal responsibility, capitalism, security and peace through strength. Today, the party is not the same and it does not reflect those values any more. When the Presidential candidate and a few (or more) Republicans resort to this divisive rhetoric, it puts many Republicans like me to re-evaluate being Republicans.
I have received a ton of emails today from several clergy men and women who have undertaken it upon themselves to forward this article to many of their friends. However, I have received the following concern from a dear friend "Indeed, Islamic terrorism is one of the greatest dangers facing the world today. I'm mystified if you don't see that and agree with that. You are usually a strong campaigner against Islamic terrorism. You did not suggest that McCain said that Muslims or Islam is the greatest threat. You quote him as saying Islamic extremists are the greatest danger."
Here is the idea behind writing this piece.
My contention is that we must call Terrorism for what it is; a disgraceful evil. Let's not dilute it by suffixing or prefixing with another word like religion, in this case Islam or Muslim. This mistake leads to development of attitudes that are detrimental to peace and co-existence in our nation. A criminal father kills his daughter for not being able to have the animalistic control on them... on the same day there were other similar incidents in the paper... but one becomes Muslim Fascism or Islamic terrorism and others didn't even hit the radar. It is building of these attitudes that we need to guard the public from. This was a malignant attitude and it is not good for social health of our society.
Osama Bin Laden is not only an enemy of America, he is a bigger threat to Islam and Muslims around the world as he has put so many lives on jeopardy and gone completely against the principles of Islam, where saving one life is like saving the whole humanity. His followers or those who subscribe to his criminal mind set are terrorists.
By giving a label of Islam to a criminal like him, we are diluting the strength of the purpose in getting that criminal. Osama is our target and we need to go after him and his gang Al-Qaeda, the specific group. By adding the word Islam or Muslim, we are wrongly implicating the religion and its followers, and impotenting our ability to hit the target, we are not focused any more.
It is our President's escapism and gutlessness to deal with the terrorist that he jumped from Afghanistan to Iraq, and then he wanted to yet jump on Iran. He wanted to get some success some where, by God, go get him. And now, John McCain shamelessly claims that he will get Osama, the question is why did he not get him or put the plan to the President and push for it and save our nation a trillion dollars and 4000 lives and a Million Iraqi lives on our conscience? If you have the time understand our failures in dealing with the terrorism, here is an essay for you. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/05/laser-barking-at-terrorists.html
Let our words mitigate conflicts be it within the family, friends, community or the society at large and that is what it takes to gradually build sustainable peace and attitudes of co-existence.
Additional Articles on the subject added on 2/9/08 below:
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@aol.com or (214) 325-1916
Islam’s Role in the Elections
Islam’s Role in the Elections
By Sadia Ahsanuddin and Dilshoda Yergasheva
January 14, 2008
Throughout the 2008 presidential elections, several candidates have sought to utilize anti-Islam prejudices to their advantage.
In January of 2007, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign team deliberately turned the public’s attention to Senator Barack Hussein Obama’s Muslim heritage in order to harm his popularity. Obama, in turn, worked very hard to distance himself from any past or present affiliation with Muslims and Islam, citing the Bible in his speeches and emphasizing his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Republicans, for their part, haven’t been much better. Formulaic prefaces from candidates about how “the enemy” is radical Islam hardly veil more broad based, antagonistic sentiments they harbor against Muslims generally. The Christian Science Monitor, for example, reported that Mitt Romney discounted out-of-hand the possibility of appointing a Muslim to his cabinet, were he to take office. In a recent speech to Republicans in New Hampshire, Mike Huckabee, speaking about energy reform and US reliance on foreign oil, stated, “We [will] no longer let the Middle Eastern people hold us hostage, wrecking our economy as well our environment.” More to the point, John Deady, co-chair of Veterans for Rudy, said: “[Rudy Giuliani] has got, I believe, the knowledge and the judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history, and that is the rise of the Muslims.
“Make no mistake about it,” he continued, “This hasn’t happened for a thousand years. These people are very, very dedicated. They’re also very smart in their own way, and we need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat them or chase them back to their caves, or, in other words, get rid of them.”
Islam is not antithetical to all things American. Yet, rather than try to build bridges and work towards engagement and understanding, since September 11, 2001 politicians have preferred to exploit people’s insecurities and biases in order to stoke fears about the supposed threat that Muslims pose to free and democratic societies. The ubiquity of anti-Muslim attitudes in American political rhetoric, even if it is only implicit, not only alienates Muslims around the world, but emboldens intolerant sects of American society. So far, this strategy has sadly shown itself to be politically successful. Being perceived as sympathetic towards Islam and Muslims is taken as evidence of spineless foreign policy where intolerance and fiery diatribes are to a candidate’s credit.
Is this the sort of America we want to live in? How can a nation founded on the precepts of equality and tolerance elect leaders in part based on their perceived ability to malign a religion that over one-sixth of the world’s population subscribes to?
Many Americans, as a result, have developed the false sense that Islam and the West are destined to clash. This misconception of a binary opposition that hawkish politicians use to paint the picture of the current balance of world power allows politicians to sell an overly simplistic picture of America’s interaction with the Muslim world. By reducing America’s relationship to the rest of the world to such black and white terms, politicians are able to derive power as crusaders against a perceived sinister force.
One only needs to watch the recent campaign ads to see these themes pandered to the masses. One such ad, approved by Giuliani, depicts a violent, irrational, out of control Muslim world. The voiceover forebodingly declares, “an enemy without borders,” and, “a people perverted,” in sync with footage of crowds of Muslims, fire, and explosions .This is all set to unearthly, frightening background music. The message is quite clear: Muslims are evil and they’re coming to get you. The ad ends with a case for Giuliani as the strong and capable defender of America: “In a world when the next crisis is a moment away, America needs a leader who’s ready.”
Such dramatic presentations create an artificial sense of unquestioned moral authority, where America and its interests constitute the “good guys” and everyone else is the “bad guys,” resulting in a populace that desires leaders who will take strong action against an evil force.
This sort of demonizing, hate-filled rhetoric is discrimination at its worst. Pitting voters against an illusory common enemy both abroad and at home, campaigners are jeopardizing the safety of six to seven million Muslim, who live among other Americans who are increasingly likely to perceive them as a threat. In doing so, campaigners are compromising the values upon which this nation was founded. Wasn’t this country established by individuals who sought refuge from the religious oppression that pervaded their homelands? Are we not a nation that takes pride in its diversity and inclusiveness? By allowing presidential campaigns to antagonize a minority group within our population, we as Americans are not fulfilling our duty to safeguard the values of equality and tolerance our predecessors fought for.
Sadia Ahsanuddin ’09 is administrative editor of “Ascent Magazine: Harvard and MIT Students on Islam and Society,” and is a history concentrator in Dunster House. Dilshoda Yergasheva ’09 is internal chair of the Harvard Islamic Society and is an applied mathematics concentrator in Cabot House.