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Ever met a Muslim?

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Hate mail on the ol’ I-net keeps hitting new highs. Or lows. For several years, the target was Pres. Obama, his wife, kids and any non-white person supporting the President. Told a number of my friends to knock it off. Lost several.

Now the target I see most is Muslims. Any Muslim. Since the Paris terrorism, there’s been a sharp increase. Hardly a day goes I don’t get a couple hate mails. Some are supposed to be “joles” but many are filled with lengthy quotes from speeches or writings of some “noted authority” here or abroad on the dangers of the Muslim way of life. Checking the background of some writers, I found several hated somebody else before they got around to Muslims. Hate and racism du jour, I guess.

Just speculation on my part but I doubt many who circulate this mental garbage have ever met a Muslim much less had one as a friend. They’re a distinct minority in our Northwestern back yard. Had it not been for the military and living in Washington, D.C. as a reporter for a few years, I probably would’ve lived my entire life Muslim-less.

But I ‘ve gotten to know a few. And, while not being an authority on all things Muslim, I can say my experiences were interesting, mind-broadening and I found not a whole lot of difference from anyone else with a strong religious base in their history. Orthodox Jews are a good example. Some practice faithfully; some don’t. Baptists, Catholics and we Presbyterian/Methodists, too. Sometimes.

“But what about their supposed violence against all things not Muslim?” you ask. “And Sharria law and ‘death to the infidels’?’” Yes, there is that. Sometimes. “Course we non-Muslims had our crusades and some witch burnings. But we don’t talk much about those.

As a Presby/Methodist hybrid, I’ve attended a lot of Bible study classes trying to stay protestantly multilingual. One of the things that’s struck me repeatedly was how much violence and death there is in our own religious teachings. Lots of it. Moses, for example, wiping out whole villages and thousands of families from elderly to children during the trek from Egypt to the Promised Land. Wholesale slaughter! Before leaving Egypt, there was all that Passover killing. And all the murders of babies after Christ’s birth. Crucifixions, stoning, stabbing, poisonings, etc.

Then there were the instructions from God and/or his spokesmen on earth to kill certain people, punish family members, exact deadly vengeance on misdoers, run people out of town, confiscate property and on and on and on. Not to mention famines, plagues, drought and drowning everybody. Or those stake burnings.

Yep, Christianity is pretty blood-thirsty. Kind of like that Sharria law thing. Except nobody in our town has sacrificed a virgin or stoned a prostitute or cut the hands off a thief for… damn … I can’t remember when. But it’s been a long, long time.

I suppose if I lived in a Muslim country and ignorantly hated the Christians -as some ignorant “christians” hate Muslims – I could come up with hundreds of examples of biblical “teachings” to fill up some hate e-mails for friends. Lord knows, the Bible is a treasure trove of murder and retribution for enemies of God. There are some doozies!

In case my point isn’t clear here, it’s this: if we insist on developing our thinking and feelings based on someone else’s selective information – if we go around talking about or warning about some stranger’s murderous intent using some other nut’s phobia’s and hate-mongering as our sources of information – we’re going to show a lot of ignorance that really doesn’t become you. Or me. Are there bad guys? Yep. Muslim? Maybe. Maybe not. Do they live next door? Not likely.

More than anything else, that’s the basis for most hate e-mails I’ve seen lately. Ignorance. Fear. Wanting to believe the worst. A susceptibility to the voices of hate that relentlessly fill our national airwaves and in-boxes. A need to feel superior to someone else by making them villains. Used to be Blacks. Then Hispanics. Now it’s Muslims. Or all of the above.

But being a Muslim and practicing the tenets of your faith doesn’t automatically make you a bad guy. No matter how hard ignorant individuals and ignorant countries try to make it so. Universally banning certain styles of clothing does more to inflame than build a bridge to understanding. Burnings copies of the Koran – or threatening to – won’t improve cultural relationships. Burning Mosques says more about the mental vacuum of the match-holders.

I’m treating the forwarded anti-Muslim e-mails exactly as I did the ones about our President. Heavy use of the “delete” key. I’m just one. But, if you do it too, maybe we can make a dent.

Wiping out a hateful electronic lie and striking a small blow for world peace. Now that’s a good day’s work.

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