Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Losing our religion
. . . .

Losing our religion

Robert Downes - September 13th, 2010
Losing our Religion
Maybe it’s just a wild coincidence, but most of the Muslim people I’ve
ever met have been remarkably gentle and considerate.
Not a terrorist among them.
There was Darla, a college friend of Arabic descent from Dearborn who
aspired to a career in journalism. A mysterious beauty with a sense of
dignity and style, I can’t imagine she ever thought of a side career
in bomb-making.
There were the Chaldean shop-owners along Woodward Avenue in Detroit
who always had a smile and time to talk, even though they were being
driven out of business by urban blight.
There’s Esam, an Egyptian guide and scuba instructor who radiates good
vibes with a smile to match. He remains a Facebook friend, sharing
news from the Nile.
I also have a friend of Syrian descent. Don’t know if he’s a Muslim,
but you never can tell, because his kindness, smile and friendly ways
indicate that he just might be from a culture where such things are
valued.
And there were scores of people who welcomed me as a lone American
walking down their streets in Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain, India and
Malaysia -- Muslims all, sharing smiles and their equivalent of “how
ya doin’?”
Islamaphobes, get a clue. Muslims are people just like us whose
primary concerns are their families, friends and making a living.
One of the things I’ve found in common with the Muslims I’ve met is
that none of us would ever dream of bothering anyone with our
religious views, much less the idea of converting an “infidel” or
launching a global jihad.
Can you imagine, for instance, declaring yourself a militant
Presbyterian to all comers and demanding that non-believers bow to the
16th century teachings of Scotsman John Knox or burn at the stake?
That’s sort of the wacky idea some of us have about Muslims, with the
“proof” being citations of world conquest found written in the Koran
by camel-riding Arabs 1,300 years ago. The reality is that the average
Muslim citizen of the world grasps the Koran in the same way that
half-hearted Christians understand the Bible: as a dusty collection of
tribal folk lore and fairy tales that doesn’t have a whole lot to do
with what’s going on here in the 21st century.
If anything, I’ve gotten the sense from Muslim people I’ve met in
foreign lands that they are rather irritated and imprisoned by the
religious police and demands of their theocratic countries and would
just as soon be free of the burden of religion; especially the
month-long dawn-to-dusk fast of Ramadan, which many will tell you is a
huge pain in the ass.
What we lack in America is perspective on people from other countries,
be they Mexicans, Muslims, Slovakians, Mongolians or Lapplanders. Most
of what we know of the world comes to us through a television screen,
and our media is obsessed with demonizing foreigners.
Do we get a well-rounded view of the world from watching shows such as
24, Die Hard or Hostel, where every foreigner is a lunatic in the mode
of Snidely Whiplash?
Our nightly news is also prone to presenting only the scariest images
of countries beyond America’s horizon. What we get from the “news” is
that there are car bombs going off everywhere, along with hordes of
machete-waving maniacs. What we don’t get from CNN, FOX, ABC or MSNBC
is that most of the world is about as dangerous as downtown Petoskey
and that you can travel for tens of thousands of miles without the
hope of glimpsing even a single maniac with a machete.
What we do have, however, is a few bad apples who tend to have one
thing in common: religious extremism.
The lunatic plan to burn the Koran on 9/11, stirring up their
extremist counterparts overseas come to mind, as do the so-called
patriots in our country who want to replace the U.S. Constitution with
the Bible.
Isn’t it unfortunate that these are the “typical Americans” that
Muslim people see on their own biased news networks, or in the
propaganda efforts of groups such as al Qaeda or the Taliban?
Isn’t it unfortunate that the next terrorist attack on America will be
courtesy of religious extremists, yet it will be ordinary Christians,
Muslims, Jews and people who don‘t give a rip about religion at all
who will pay the price?

 
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