Islamophobia: It appears to be alive and well in America
In all of my 70 years, I have never seen such hatred in the past several months against Islam in general! I grew up during WW II when the Japanese were referred to less than human and American Japanese were interred in concentration camps during the War. After WW II, Sen. Joseph McCarthy had us looking for Communists everywhere, while many innocent people had their lives crushed. During the Vietnam War, anti-war protesters were beaten in the streets and called traitors. President George W. Bush gave probably the best speech in his life to the nation on the night of September 11th. When addressing the world’s Muslim people,When addressing the world’s Muslim people, “I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.” Have we forgotten that night and how it united the nation, as well as the World! It appears that we have!
Islam is one of the three great monotheistic religions of the Modern World. It acknowledges that both Judaism and Christianity are brothers and that the final truth from God was delivered to the Prophet Mohammed and written in the Koran. Unfortunately, history has shown us that both Christianity and Islam have had their share of war and torture in the name of God. What was fought for under the name of Allah or Christ had more to do with territorial expansion and economics than religion. We can prepare long lists where both religions have attempted to dominate each other. During the Ottoman Empire, Fundamental Islam was limited to the Arabian peninsula as a sect called Wahhabism. founded by Muhammad Abd al Wahhab in the late Eighteenth Century. When active, it was dealt with severely at the order of the Caliph back in Istanbul. It appeared again after the First World War and the secularization of the Ottoman Empire into the modern state of Turkey, the differences of both may have been laid to rest, at least for the present time. It only took a few years for the Muslim Brotherhood to be organized in Egypt, allowing the fringe group of Fundamental Muslims to begin to organize their attempt to destroy secular Islam. It remained a local problem for Islam, Israel and the Middle East, until the end of the 20th Century, when Fundamental Islam decided to return the world to a “caliphate system of government.” Al Qaeda was one of many organizations, but it was the first to target the United States. The USS Cole, and the US embassy bombings were but a prelude to September 11th.
Is it surprising to see a move in the American psyche towards Islamophobia? Probably not. Most Americans have little or no knowledge of Islam, as we are a Christian nation. In fact, we are a strongly Christian nation primarily due to the settlement of America. In many cases, we were the Christian extremists who settled here from Europe as unwanted citizens of Western Europe. As each new group of immigrants came to our shores, they were persecuted. The Know Nothing Party of the 1850s was organized to stop the immigration of Irish and Germans from this country, primarily due to their Catholic beliefs. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was designed to exclude the immigration of Chinese to this country and it lasted into the 1920s. During WW I, my grandfather, who was German, was accosted on the train as he was reading an American-German newspaper. He ended up carrying a $1,000.00 War Bond with him and waved it in the face of the idiots who were attacking “The Hun,” It now appears that we may be heading towards that direction again, out of fear and ignorance. American Muslims, unfortunately, have not helped matters, as some have remained passive and reluctant to separate themselves from the Fundamentalist minority. Although they have fought and died in our military, paid their taxes, voted as citizens, and have supported the American effort to fight Fundamental Islam, they have not been able to provide a united front. This is partially due to the nature of Islam, as they live quiet and somewhat secluded lives. They are, however, just as American as those who now prepare to persecute them.
So what’s happened? The Economy is playing a major role in this movement, just as it did in the 1030s, when Father Coughlin took to the airways to rant against President Roosevelt’s reforms and later promoting anti-Semitism during the Great Depression. Millions of Americans sat in front of their radios to listen to him, but it wasn’t until 1940 when the Catholic Church finally shut him up! We’re heading in the same direction? The obsession of those who believe that President Obama is a Muslim makes one ponder. The emergence of organizations which promote anti-Muslim sentiment, such as Stop Islamization of America, the Freedom Defense Initiative and Faith Freedom International are but a few, organized to stop the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City, also known as the Cordoba House, which will sponsor the Cordoba Initiative. The name was chosen to represent a time in history when Muslims, Christian and Jews lived together in harmony. However, it was relative harmony at best. Officially, it is not a mosque, nor was it attended to be one. It is an Islamic cultural center, with a 500 seat auditorium, a performing arts center, a fitness center with a swimming pool, a bookstore, not unlike a YMCA. I’m not going to get into the argument as to whether or not its location is appropriate to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, except to say that it has every right to be located there and has been approved by the City of New York. It is a local issue and should remain as such. The fact is that it has become the “poster child” of anti-Islamic attacks is enough. Most recently, the Dove World Outreach Center, under the leadership of Pastor Terry Jones in Gainesville FL will hold a Koran burning ceremony on September 10th, the eve of the ninth anniversary of September 11th. The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment is rising at an alarming rate, some have ventured that it is up 38% over the past year. This is a far cry from what was said by President Bush on the eve of September 11, 2001. We consider ourselves as the pinnacle of freedom and democracy. Let’s act as such so the world will look at America as a place where everyone is accepted as equal. Otherwise, you or I may be among the next group of individuals chosen to be persecuted. We don’t have to look back very far in history to remember what happened in Germany, once Adolph Hitler came to power in 1933!
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