Finally, finally, we have heard a Muslim voice that does not come from both sides of the speaker’s mouth! In today’s Wall Street Journal (9/10/10) Zuhdi Jasser speaks from the heart, with intelligence, and without ignoring relevant facts. Dr Jasser, a former naval officer, is unambiguously against the idea of developing an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. In his “Questions for Imam Rauf From an American Muslim,” he also denounces terrorists -violent jihadists- and their more quiet moderate Muslim facilitators. Unambiguously, he calls Imam Rauf of the “Cordoba Project,” a facilitator, a false man with Islamist allegiance rather than the moderate man of dialog he pretends to be.
This happy event happened just in time for Eid, the end of the Ramadan period. I hope some American Muslims will remember brave Dr Jasser in their festivities. I salute the Wall Street Journal for publishing that honest man’s statements on the eve of 9/11.
This single letter comes just in time to put the brakes on my descent into “Islamophobia.” (I have expressed myself several times recently on the topic. See: “Islamophobia, Part 1 of 2,” posted 9/29/10, “Islamophobia, Part 2 of 2,” 8/30/10, and “Muslim Moderates Speak Up,” 10/9/10. There are others if you search my blog.)
It was a curious thing. Right after 9/11, the very first thought I expressed aloud was for Muslims in America. I thought something ought to be done locally to protect them from what I suspected were going to be blind spontaneous reprisals by angry ordinary Americans. Frankly, I thought there would be lynchings. I was wrong, dead wrong about my fellow Americans’ fairness and I am glad I was wrong. There were no retaliation except for one Sikh – a non-Muslim- who was murdered by mistake in Texas by some low-life.
Later, as violent jihadist crimes and failed attempts, multiplied world-wide, I watched ordinary Muslims’ reactions with disbelief. The authorities of Muslim countries usually responded forcefully and effectively. Yet, it was difficult to discover spontaneous condemnations from Muslim civil society anywhere. The negative reactions I did spot were muted, and they seemed half-hearted and pro-forma. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop: “Yes, but….” This was true even among American Muslim organizations. This was true among my Muslim friends and even, largely (not completely) among Muslims to whom I was close and among Muslims I care for.
I was puzzled and increasingly disenchanted because I did not see how it could be difficult to declare that it’s wrong to murder purposefully hundreds of commuters (Madrid, London, the failed attempt on Christmas Day, the “shoe-bomber”), or thousands of tourists and passers-by (the failed Time Square attempt) or, the thousands of ordinary people of 9/11. The Muslims’ callousness was ever more difficult for me to comprehend because I knew that the Prophet Mohamed had condemned the killing of non-combatants. Had I not known this, my Muslim acquaintance would have reminded me ad nauseam, their only, ineffective, unrealistic, contribution.
I came progressively to see ordinary Muslims in this country and elsewhere in the same light as I saw white Southern Baptist racists in the sixties: Discriminate against blacks, restrict and ruin their lives; murder them occasionally but if you play cards, you will surely go to Hell. Muslims in their overwhelming numbers seemed quick to press for their rights regarding the formal observation of their faith, including ritual ablutions, frequent prayers, the Ramadan month-long fast and, mistakenly, the right to cover women’s faces in contradiction to normal crime-deterrence requirements. (I say “mistakenly” because one would be hard-pressed to locate a single Islamic religious authority to declare that face covering is a requirement of Muslim morality.) Muslims however were silent or overly discrete about atrocities committed on a large scale in the name of Islam. I will say again here that such atrocities have made more Muslim victims than non-Muslim. This fact does not make the conspiracy of quietness better, it makes it worse: Even beasts defend their own.
One single intervention by a rational Muslim, one who does not deny the obvious, is enough to engage me in a u-turn. I am telling myself that if there is one, there are two and if there are two, there must be many more. I hope Dr Jasser’s forthright and courageous statements in today’s WSJ will prompt many others to come out and testify aloud: “I, too am human; I too condemn crimes committed in the name of religion, “ even perhaps, “Killing the innocent is worse than burning holy books.”
About the apparently postponed or canceled Koran burning: I am angry at the intervention of the Secretary of Defense and even of the President to lean on a citizen to not exercise his constitutionally protected right. I don’t care what the Florida pastor’s motivations were. Frankly, they are none of my business. Our Federal Government just communicated to the whole world that we are collectively unwilling to allow anything that might piss off anyone, anywhere. Next: No more naked men in magazines and movies; next, no more naked women, next no racy comments on television; next no public disapproval of foreign tyrants; next, expressions of profound respect for the insane, blood-thirsty, murderous, anti-Semitic leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran; next, heart-felt congratulations for the just stoning to death of an evil adulterous woman.
PS At this point, no one in our liberal intellectual elite has mentioned that the reasonable retaliation for the burning of Korans is the burning of Christian Bibles, even of the American Bill of Rights. How many Christians world-wide would die in riots of this happened? This is a legitimate question from which cultural relativists hide carefully.