Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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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