This is the first time I’ve written on this subject because frankly I’m having problems wrapping my mind around it. What I do know is that America and Americans are faced with a conundrum that must be resolved and the sooner the better. I think that many of us have conflicts in our minds on the subject of Islam in part because it is not a classic problem of religious conflict. It is much more.
We are told that the terrorist or radical Islamics are but a small part of the Muslim world. That may be but their influence is not at all small. The Islamic terrorist have had a profound impact on our country and on other countries as well. It is not clear to me whether our enemies are just those that organize, plan, and carry out acts of terrorism or is it Islam itself. how can I, a staunch believer in religious tolerance, suggest that our enemy may be Islam itself? Bare with me as I try to explain what is worrying me.
It has bothered me for a long time that the so-called moderate Muslims don’t speak out more frequently and more forcefully against those Muslims that promote hatred and terrorism. What I think I have come to understand is that it is in part due to fear of reprisal. In other words, the radicals have not only succeeded in instilling fear in the infidels of america and the world but also in the moderate Muslims.
Another question is how do we identify radical Muslims from peaceful Muslims? A couple of months back when the Ground Zero Mosque was in the news every day I remember reading a comment to a blog post by a school teacher. She related how she like to invite people from different cultures to come and speak to her class. among her invitees was an Islamic couple who had in fact spoken to her class several times. She said that they were alway well received by her students. One time, the last time that she invited them to her class was shortly after the death threats to Salman Rushdie. She asked the couple what they tought about Rushdie death threats and the man replied quite calmly that as good Muslims they would be obliged to kill Mr. Rushdie should their paths cross. I don’t know about you but I find that response chilling.
So, we have to wonder what would happen if an otherwise moderate Muslim in America was approached by a radical Iman and asked or told to carry out some kind of terrorist act. How would they respond? Would they carry out the act because they are good Muslims, or would they carry out the act for fear of reprisals against their family, or would they abide by the laws of their adopted country?
The questions raised above are the kind of questions that led the United States to put Japanese American citizens in concentration camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. A shameful part of American history but one can understand that the question of loyalties in time of war is a valid question. Surely we can find better answers to our current conundrum.
Apart from the issue of terrorism there is another issue with Islam that is worrisome. There is the desire by many Islamic to want to spread sharia law wherever they can. Many people laughed when Oklahoma’s passed a referendum to prohibit the implementation of sharia law in their state. I was not among those laughing. I read recently that if current trends continue, Muslims could become a majority of the population of Franc in a few decades. Can you imagine France loosing its culture in this manner? Could something similar happen in the US? what if Muslims became a majority in a town or city. Would our constitution prevent the implementation of sharia law in that case? Remember, there really is nothing in the constitution that talks about the separation of church and state.
This is a conundrum like no other we have ever faced. I certainly don’t have the answers. I do, however, believe that this is something needs to be debated openly and hopefully such debate will lead to resolutions that are compateble with American ideals. What do you think?