Muslims Go Home!
“Muslims Go Home” was the chant that echoed through the canyons of Park Place in NYC. “If you hate us so much why don’t you leave” quickly followed. That was the rhetoric that escalated the protests outside the proposed mosque located two blocks from the World Trade Center site from just noisy to dangerous. Dangerous because the focus of the protest has now changed from anti mosque to anti Muslim.
Proof of exactly how dangerous the mood is on Tuesday a taxi cab driver in New York was asked by his passenger if he was a Muslim. When he said “yes” the passenger attacked him with a knife. The driver survived the attack and his assailant was arrested and charged with a “Hate Crime” among other things. And hate is one of the watch words here. Others are fear and yes, ignorance. Truth be told hate cannot flourish without fear and ignorance and there is a lot of all three in this country today. The hatred of those we do not totally understand and the fear that what happened before could happen again.
But this kind of fear, hate and ignorance is not unique to our time. Unfortunately it has reared its ugly head quite frequently in World history. In early 64 A.D. Nero began a long running persecution of Christians; in the late 1860’s in America, it was the Native Americans who suffered the wave of hatred; the 17, 18 and 1900’s saw African Americans suffer the brunt of bigotry; the 1930’s in Germany it was the Jews, Poles anyone who wasn’t a member of the Aryan race; the 1940’s in the United States it was the Japanese Americans who were forced out of their homes and placed in a concentration camp simply because they were of Japanese descent and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Today it’s the American Muslims, who have done nothing but quietly practice their religion and keep to themselves.
You see in this country, The United States of America, Muslims; as do all religions; have the “right” to worship any deity they wish on any day of the week they wish, WHEREVER THEY WISH. Also in this country people are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty of a crime. Just because someone is the same religion as most of the terrorist does NOT make them guilty of the same crime.
Every religion in the world has been used to justify mass violence sometime in human history. Those who are at the focal point of the violence usually twist and distort Holy Scriptures to fit their needs. Usually it’s simply “The Will of God” or “God is with us.” Since none of us were around when our holy books were written we have been left with the job of interpreting their meanings. Proof that this is not an easy job is all around us. Every religion has branches within themselves who interpret Holy Scriptures differently. So why is it so hard to understand the vast difference between the terrorists interpretation of the Quran from the majority of today’s American Muslims.
America is supposed to be the bastion of Freedom; a country the world looks up to for its democratic resolve and fairness. We are supposed to be better than what the late news has been showing to the world over the last few months. We are supposed to be better than the vile, hateful rhetoric that until now has been reserved to groups like the American Nazi Party and the KKK.
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.
Those words were written by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and spoken by Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepard in “An American President” released in 1995.
I used that quote in my article “America Rising” published on this website in January 2010. The article spoke of how American patriotism and citizen awareness was at a high not seen in decades. How “We the People” must work together to get this country up and running again and how the freedoms secured for us by the sacrifice of so many must apply to all Americans with no exceptions. The hateful tone of those recent demonstrations in NYC which have now managed to spread to other sections of our great country can only lead me to believe some of us have forgotten that message. These are The UNITED States of America and in that grand title I see no mention of exceptions or exclusions.
I think all of us need to step back and take a deep breath. We need to understand what is really happening here and we need to understand this is happening in America, not in Iran, not in Iraq, not in Saudi Arabia. And above all we need to understand those who are on the receiving end of this hateful rhetoric are as American as you or me.
“I feel very sad. I have been here more than 25 years. I have been driving a taxi more than 15 years. All my four kids were born here. I never felt this hopeless and insecure before.”
That was a statement by Ahmed Sharif, the taxi cab driver who was stabbed in New York. All of us should feel just as insecure as Mr. Sharif because what is happening in New York City today; if not stopped; can happen to you and me tomorrow. “Watch the skies” people.