Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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