Saturday, July 08, 2006
The truth about Islam, and me...
I usually post a few entries a day, but given the solemnity of July 7th, the anniversary of the attack on London, I thought to focus my comments on what I believe is the most important issue of our time.
In reading the comments on yesterday's post I was appalled by the sympathy that has been expressed for Islam, a faith that, if applied to the letter, would call for all of us non-Muslims to be cast off the face of the earth. And yes, all religions are absolutist in their claims to sovereignty, but as one person wisely commented, Christians aren't boarding buses and planes to blow themselves up. Further, I made it very clear that fundamentalism in this country is a problem all its own that must also be dealt with. But seriously, people, if you're more scared of Christians than Muslims please pass me that crack you're smoking. It sounds real good.
What troubles me about the debate over Islam, over the debate on Iraq or any conflict for that matter, is that otherwise normal, compassionate people (I would like to include myself in that group) are forced to take sides and make absolute statements for the advancement of a particular ideal. I expressed my disappointment in the Islamic faith as I see so-called followers of God not only killing "infidels," but each other. The Shiites in Iraq are no better than the Somali fighters who opened fire on a group of young people watching the World Cup this past week. As current events clearly show, whatever vestige of temperance exists in the Islamic faith has yet to manifest itself. I expressed my sadness over this yesterday as I am a student of international affairs and despise sweeping generalizations -- however, I personally feel as if I have no choice but to feel the way I do about Islam.
Someone who commented on my post alluded to the caption under my photo that reads that I am fed up with the hateful rhetoric from the right as if to say that I am no better for my own "hateful" take on Islam. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Ladies and gentlemen, I grew up a Christian and hold the ideals of my faith close to my heart but have seen first hand how cold and uncaring one's brothers and sisters in the faith can be when you start to differ from them. In the midst of our country's culture war Americans are indeed turning on each other and that, too, saddens me. Believe me, the minute Christian fundamentalists start assailing gays with bullets I will be the first to blog about it, unless I'm at the front lines of battle myself.
It's been asked if I know anything about Islam, if I know any Muslims, and the answers to both questions is yes. Would you believe that I grew up in a six family brownstone in Brooklyn with three other Muslim families? They're lovely people, but I absolutely believe that no one in their Mosque is calling for fair treatment of gays, women and non-muslims. To use the right's rhetoric, an institution should be judged by its ideals and not the actions of its individuals -- so what ARE Islam's ideals? World events, people, look at world events for the answer.
Having lived in France I've also seen how Arabic immigrants are at a gross disadvantage when it comes to education and access to employment. However, would these people's situation be any better in the countries they left? They obviously moved to France for a reason. So why, then, would disgruntled youths decide to torch their own neighborhoods? How is THAT the fault of the French government? Youths were setting the elderly on fire, and somehow we have to look at "societal pressures" instead of calling this behavior criminal and fanatical?
As for the comment that Andrew Sullivan should be ashamed for linking to my blog I can only say that it certainly made my day that someone of his stature would direct readers to this site. I am not an expert on world events but rather an observer -- the intention behind this blog is to engage in dialogue with others and to entertain different points of view.
At any rate, this debate predates all of us and sadly, it looks like it will linger long after we're gone. If you're so irate, no matter what side you're on, do make it a point to make our legislative process, our democracy, work for you. Make your voice heard by the people in power to actually effect change and hope for the best.