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Don't Denigrate, Integrate: Comments to Jay Esbee, GB Gaskin, Nadeem, et al.

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by R.T.M (United States), Apr 17, 2003 at 05:11

Unfortunately, despite my many degrees, I have never been a very articulate person, but I would like the chance to comment on some remarks I have read in the commentaries, which not only offend my sensibilities but bewilder me in their intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

In a society like America, where free speech and love for one's fellow man is cherished, how can so many of its citizens (such as some of our commentators) belittle Dr. Pipes for expressing his opinions and urging a kind of solution to animosities between Muslims and America? Isn't this going against the grain of what it is to be American or to live in any country that is democratic and free? Aren't "The Free" supposed to have differing opinions and discuss these opinions? And aren't these opinions likewise to be respected, even if they are not shared? Well, as an American, I was taught that discussion and difference in ideas were the bread and butter of my society and that it was not my right to force someone to think like me, but it was my right to understand and respect those who did not think like me. That, in essence, was the difference in living in a country that promoted freedoms than one that repressed freedoms; the difference between Democracy and Fascism.

Now, let's talk about religious freedom and discriminate between religion and culture. First of all, like any religion and all religions, Islam is not perfect and is subjugated to human fallibility. There is no monotheistic religion that has NOT condemned or killed others for not being like them. Did we forget the Spanish Inquisition that used religion to kill, torture, and boot Jews and Muslims from Spain? Don't the Irish to this day segregate themselves based on whether they are Protestant or Catholic? Didn't Hitler, a Christian, murder millions of Jews for not being like him? What about the Holy Crusades--Christians and Muslims fighting over the same land that Jews and Arab Muslims and Arab Christians are killing over now? Incidentally, weren't the Crusades initiated by the Pope of that time-- the religious leader of millions of Catholics? Don't the Crusades have a "jihad" quality to them? Aren't they both holy wars? Can we really say that one religion is better or more evil than another? Can we really say that one religion is not to be honored more or less than another? Again, doesn't this go against another right that is so important to a true democracy--freedom of religion and from religious persecution? Why do some of the commentators insist that Islam is inherently evil and militant while simultaneously insisting that only Jesus and Christianity promote love of humanity and peace? What were the Archangels--weren't they militaristic? Again, did the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition promote peace and love for others? Didn't the Bible condemn the Jews for killing Christ? Why do Hasidic Jews choose to separate themselves from the gentiles? Doesn't the Old Testament encourage revenge (i.e., "an Eye for an Eye...")? My point is that one can not simply take quotes from any holy book or scripture and denounce the religion that book supports. In addition, one cannot look at a religion without looking at the people that religion involves, nor at how those people have influenced that religion through their culture.

Like any religion, Islam is affected by how it is interpreted, and like any religion, Islam may be interpreted loosely or strictly and myopically. Islam is not the only religion that suffers from extremist fundamentalism, and it is not the only religion that has had fundamentalists twist its mores, ideals, precepts. We have Jewish fundamentalist organizations like the JDL, whose former leader tried to kill an American official for simply being an Arab-American. We have Christian fundamentalists like Timothy McVeigh, who like the Muslim fundamentalist Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda, killed innocents because he and his group hated the American government. These extremists hate.

They hate because they feel that they have been wronged or denied something. They hate because they have never learned to really understand what their religions are promoting (love, peace, brotherhood). They hate because they feel that no one cares for their people or their ideologies. They hate because no one cares if their children go hungry or if their place of worship is destroyed. They hate because they feel that they cannot do anything else. They hate because they feel small. They hate because no one has taught them to love, to understand, and to tolerate others.

Hate is our enemy!! Hate is not limited to one race, sex, country, or religion. Arabs, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Afghanistan, USA, Israel, Iraq, Korea, etc., are not the enemies; human nature guides us. People decide who or what they will be or believe. To fight hate, we need to learn about each other and to learn to live with each other. Intolerance and lack of basic human rights are to be battled. Wars only work for a short time. The real catalyst starts by compassion and help; by learning how to communicate with others without judgement; by building nations that respect people of all creeds, all beliefs, all genders, and all colors; by going to other countries not to fight but to rebuild; and by putting humanity before money and materialism.

Well, that's basically all I wanted to say. I know that to many I may sound too idealistic and even naive, but it's what I believe. In conclusion, I ask you out there to stop denigrating others for their beliefs, and instead try to learn about others and integrate those good things you've learned into your own ideals and teach them to your own children. Then maybe one day, we'll have that great Utopian society that every person dreams of, that paradise that we believe only exists in the after life. Make life Heaven.

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