Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

A Teachable Moment

I wanted to draw attention to Spencer Ackerman’s article in the Washington Independent

Especially after the Boston Globe’s newest photo essay from Afghanistan

I want to bring attention to it, because we have seen the Wing Nut Brigade do their level best to turn a tragedy into their own talking point about the terrible Muslims. The terrorists in our midst. The inhuman, bloodthirsty, and the insane Muslims in our midst, who serve our nation, and fight and bleed for this nation. Who have businesses in our communities. Many of whom faced privation and danger to get to our shores, with dreams of a better life, without the strife and the bitterness that engulfs the lands of their birth. Who sweat  and labor for their families.

I recall the vibrant Persian communities that I left in Massachusetts. They call themselves Persians in this country, because that they came to this country from Iran reminds far too many of the bitterness that many of their fellow citizens hold against the government and nation that they left behind. And in an effort to leave it behind, they leave even the name of the nation out of memory.

I recall the pitfalls that Europe faces now with their own Muslim constituents. The fear. The racism. The skins who look to boot Pakis upside the head late at night, and turn their businesses into rubble. The bitterness that Turks face as they have immigrated from their homeland.

I recall the fear and ignorance that confuses Sikhs, who have been a part of both the English and American population in waves of immigration that continue today, confused with Muslims, and the confusion of the Dharmic religions with one of the spiritual brothers to Christianity and Judaism.

I recall that of the of the 1.5 billion or so Muslims in the world, less than 40% live in the Middle East. More than 60% of the world’s Muslims live in Asia between China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan and India. In the US, it is estimated that there are nearly as many Muslims than the entire population of Israel.

The Cuban American community numbers a little over a 1.2 million just as a comparison to the power wielded by a voting bloc compared to American policy.

I recall that the heaviest casualties in the Middle East of terrorist attacks, are Muslims who are bombed and shot, and attacked by their fellow countrymen. That those who suffered under the Taliban most, were Muslims. That in Iraq, the heaviest and most persistent fighting beyond the initial bombardment and push that left thousands dead, was not with the American forces but against their fellow countrymen.

And then, there are these words, when I start to get my dander up:

Baadani declined to comment on developments in the Senate, saying he wanted to focus on engaging and educating those who distrust Arabs and Muslims, rather than appearing political. “I approach it from the perspective of tearing down a wall, and the only way to do that is to respect one another,” he said. “I just ask people [to] hear me out. That’s the approach I always take, and the example I set. You can’t change someone’s mindset by calling someone a racist – they get defensive, draw lines, dig their heels in.”

“The backlash towards our community is nowhere even close,” Baadani said. “I attribute that to the intellect and the resiliency of the American people. And that’s why I’m proud to be an American.”

And it is in those words that I take some measure of comfort, and take a measure of hope as well. Despite the Wing Nuts’ lather. Despite the rush to blame and the rush to castigate a community that has come to our shores, like so many others. Like Russians. Like the Japanese. Like the Chinese. Like the Germans. Like the many populations that have come to our big old melting pot, and added to it. And made us stronger and better and more vibrant for it.

I hope that our Muslim soldiers take heart, and I hope that we can all reach out to them, because they serve their nation with as much honor and courage as their brethren, and while the Wing Nuts here seem to forget that they face the same dangers and with the same oath that others serve under, I hope that we can help them see that their religion doesn’t separate us from them. They are Americans and deserve the respect that our soldiers and fellow citizens all do.  


  1. Shaun Appleby

    From a link associated with your post, emphasis mine:

    One of those testifying was Gen. Jack Keane, former Army Vice Chief of Staff, who was a commander at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in 1996, when a pair of racially motivated murders rocked the base and prompted a full review of the Army’s anti-extremist policies.

    An investigation found that skinheads and neo-Nazis had infiltrated the ranks. In the end, Keane recalled, 21 soldiers were kicked out of the service. New regulations now specifically address racially motivated behavior, he said. “We will find that our policies will need revision again, to account for specific behaviors and attitudes expressed by Islamic extremists,” he said.

    “This is not about Muslims and their religion… nor is it about the 10,000 Muslims in the military who are, quite frankly, not seen as Muslims but as soldiers, sailors and airmen,” Keane said, but then added: “This is fundamentally about jihadist extremism, which is at odds with the values of America.”

    Barbara Ferguson – Senate, Pentagon launch reviews into Fort Hood massacre Arab News 21 Nov 09

    So the Army’s response is building on their experience from dealing with white supremacist violence in the past.  I wonder if any Right wing polemicists have made that connection?

  2. when talking about ethnic groups is whether they are recent immigrants or one that has successfully integrated in this country in the past. For instance, no one would think twice about meeting an Irish immigrant. The Irish have become valuable members of our society. Today, we don’t have much in the way of anti-German or anti-Irish sentiment in the country. What we do have is resentment towards recent immigrant groups. Central and South Americans, Middle-eastern Muslims, and Central Asians, especially Muslims from Pakistan and India.

    Resentment fades as people become familiar with any racial or ethnic group. It is always thus. The area I live in, SE Michigan, is a good example. We seem to be more tolerant of Middle-easterners, mainly because they have been coming to this area for a long time. The first wave came early in this century. It consisted mostly of Christians from Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories. They have become valued citizens, like the Hamadys who owned a grocery chain in the Flint, MI area or Casey Kasem of music fame who was born in Detroit.

    In the last 30 years, most immigrants from the Middle-East were Muslims rather than Christians, but they benefited from the Christians that immigrated before them. We don’t ask people about their religion much around here so a Middle-easterner is a Middle-easterner.

    One last thing that I think gets overlooked far too much is that many immigrants from Muslim countries are coming here to get away from the oppressive nature of religion in their countries. They come here for our religious freedoms and then find themselves grouped with radical elements and movements they tried to leave behind.

    In the end, it comes down to the same thing that defeats discrimination against any group. People need to be taken as individuals and not as stereotypes.  

  3. Hollede

    I was astonished to return to the US and observe American perspectives of the Persian people. As much of that view was shaped by the 1979 revolution and hostage crisis, it is a shame that Americans have not been able to get to know the Iranian people. Iranians are generally friendly, passionate, and gentle in nature. The hostage crisis, in my honest opinion, was an anomaly for a basically peaceful nation. The revolution against the very corrupt Shah, was in fact co-opted by the fanatic religious right. That is a fairly consistent problem with revolutions. Prior to the revolution, people of all faiths lived safely and peacefully in Iran.

    In the 70’s, the population of Tehran was around 4 million, and it was probably the safest city in the world in which to live. At age 12, I was able to travel around the city, on my own, with very little trouble. I suspect that the people have not changed much over the last 30 years. Let us not judge them by their leaders.

    While I am too lazy to look up the statistics, I am fairly certain that Islam has no higher rate of extremism than does Christianity. Let us not judge the followers of Islam or Christianity by those who pervert these faiths with hate.

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