Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By: Thomas Pritchett, Professor of Chemical and Physical Sciences.
Over the past few years I have been watching more and more anti-Muslim posts on Facebook and attacks by politicians and have been more and more sickened by them, especially since we are a supposedly “Christian” nation. Now with the Paris attacks, the situation has gotten even worse and I can no longer remain silent.
Before I get started, this is not a defense for ISIS nor is this a dissertation on why we should just ignore them. Personally, I would love to see squadrons of A-10s let loose on every ISIS convoy our surveillance detects, B-52 saturation bombing runs on every military base ISIS has, and precision bombs on every government office ISIS operates. I do object at this time to a full military invasion of ISIS held territory These objections have nothing to do with ISIS itself but rather to 1) no one seems to be willing to discuss our end plan for when ISIS is destroyed, the war damage needs to be repaired, and new government services established to maintain services and law and order. Second, and to me more importantly, if we do commit to an invasion, we need to fully commit to pay for the costs of the war (wars are not cheap) and, more importantly, commit to properly support the troops when they come back and the families of the troops who either come back disabled physically and/or mentally disabled. However, the current GOP, the party most clamoring for military action against ISIS, has shown a consistent failure to propose an end plan and, worse, to financially commit to support our veterans from our last two wars. It was the failure of an end plan that first led to the quagmire we ended up in Iraq and the situation that helped ISIS get started in the first place and it could be argued that a similar lack of an end plan by the Reagan Administration that led to the emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. As far as lack of GOP support for our veterans, one only needs to look at last week’s defeat of the Veteran’s Benefits bill in the Senate.
Now getting back to anti-Muslim rants on Facebook and by the current GOP Presidential hopefuls since Paris – ISIS is not all Islam. It is a small fundamentalist sect in only one branch of Islam. This sect also considers all other followers of Islam to have fallen from the “true way”. In fact, they are killing as many, if not more, fellow Muslims, than they are non-Muslims. Just, because someone is a Muslim does not make them a follower of ISIS. Even being a devout Muslim wearing the tradition hajib, does not make them ISIS. I teach and several of my students are Muslim including two of the sweetest young women you could ever imagine who also wear hajibs. They were born in the U.S. from parents, who emigrated from Syria before the current trouble, but they still have relatives in the war-torn areas of Syria. It sickens me when I hear some of the comments that have been made to them here in the Lehihg Valley. In the past while in the EPA I have also worked side by side with Muslims in Kuwait before the Saddam’s invasion. Except for the afternoon prayer break when they all took their prayer matts outside and prayed towards Mecca, it was just like working with any group of non-Muslims I have worked with.
This brings me back to my point for writing this – just because someone is Muslim does not justify the hate that we all justifiably feel towards ISIS. America claims to be a “Christian” nation. But Christ taught love – even for your enemies. In fact, his greatest praise in regards to a man’s faith was actually reserved for a Roman Centurion, an officer in the hated Roman occupation army. Look beyond the label and see the person. If you do, you will find that the vast majority of the Muslims you encounter are no different than you or me. Yes, there will be a very few radicals and these you can report to the appropriate authorities and otherwise avoid dealing with. Is there a chance that some Muslim fanatic will set off a bomb somewhere that may end up hurting you or someone you love? There will always be that chance – just as there is a chance that you or your loved ones can be killed by a drunk driver (notice that we do not automatically hate everyone who sits in bars where everyone has to drive to nor want to kill people we know who habitually drink and drive even after their licenses have been suspended), or a chance that you or they may be killed in a random mugging, etc. Rather many of us will allow others to play on our fears in order to convince you that they know what is best for you and our country so that you will support them at the ballot box. Multiple studies and historical examples have shown that it is much easier to appeal to people emotionally than using rational reasoning (and fear is probably our most basic emotion) so that is tactic most often used when appealing to the masses for political purposes.
So the next time someone tries to manipulate by attempting to stoke your fears about Muslims and Muslim terrorists, remember 1) that person is indeed trying to manipulate you and 2) the vast majority of Muslims are people just like you and me.