I hope all of us will try to find opportunities to reassure Muslims in this country that we are ashamed of and completely disavow the recent widely publicized statements proposing that Muslims should be treated differently from other people.
My friend who lives next door is from Bosnia. He was among the Bosnians who became encircled by the Serbian army in 1995 and fled for their lives. For six days, from Srebrenica to Tuzla the Serbian army tried to kill them by virtually all means available as they desperately tried to walk the 70 miles to a refugee camp in a safe area guarded by UN forces, including U.S. Marines. Of the 15,000 men who set off back then, only 3,500 made it through Serb lines
At times, with difficulty, my friend has talked with me some about that horrible ordeal. After recounting some of the horrors of their desperate flight, and the anguish of the people unavoidably left behind to face certain death, my friend, with a mixture of tears and joy on his face, looked up at me and said, “At last, when we saw a U.S. Marine, we knew we were safe.”
Earlier this year, my friend worked hard to pass the written test to become a U.S. citizen.
My friend loves this country passionately. He works hard. He is a wonderful friend and neighbor, a good man. He embraces and adheres to “American values” more fully than lots of folks I know who were born in this country.
My friend is a Muslim.
I keep hearing the anti-Muslim talk on the news, and every time I hear it I cringe, I wonder and worry, What do people like my friend think? How is this affecting them?
From time to time, I raise these questions with him.
Last night I stopped by, and my friend said for the most part, he ignores such talk and he knows that is not what most people in this country think.
At one point, though, he said, “The only thing, though, is when they talk about Islamic terrorists, that hurts me. Because these killers are not Islamic. That’s not Islam. That’s not my faith. These people are crazy killers. They are not Islam.”
Right after he said that, right after I decried and condemned the kinds of things that are being said by some folks and said how much I wish those things were not being said, I got a Lesson in Democracy and American Values.
My friend looked at me and said, “But Roger, you have to accept that people can say these things. This is America. We have freedom of speech here in our country.”
It was a wonderful and profound Lesson in Democracy and American Values.
Nevertheless, I am deeply saddened by the hurt and damage that is being caused by the recent comments and proposals that would single out Muslims for different treatment.
Not only do I regret the hurt and damage these anti-Muslim comments are causing, I worry that those comments and proposals actually serve the goals of the terrorists–which is to divide us and eliminate the “gray zone” in society. [This was recently discussed in a column in the W Post].
The gray zone is the area where all of us, including Muslims, can peacefully live together even though we are of different faiths, backgrounds, etc. The terrorists want to pit us against each other, and thereby eliminate the “middle ground” where we can peacefully live together, and instead force devout Muslims to choose between virtually giving up their faith and/or concealing it and their background, or increasingly sympathizing with the extremists and radicals.
One of the impacts of anti-Muslim talk is to make Muslims less able and less inclined to assimilate as part of the broader community of many faiths, many backgrounds, etc. There was an NPR story just yesterday on a study that confirmed this. And of course it is common sense.
My prayer is that all of us and each of us will try to find opportunities to reassure Muslims that we do not share the views being expressed that Muslims should be treated differently–we disavow and decry and reject those views.
My prayer is that all of us and each of us will ask Muslims in our communities to immediately call us and tell us if they experience any anti-Muslim treatment (vandalism of their mosques, threats, insults, etc.) so that we can join with them in addressing any such problems.
My prayer is that all of us and each of us will become and be good friends to Muslims in our communities. We have much to offer them. And I think we will find that they have as much, if not more, to offer us. Among other things, they can help us in our journey to a more complete understanding and embracing of the values and principles we hope this country will stand for.
Roger T. Creager
Blogger’s Note: Creager is an excellent trial and appellate lawyer, very thorough and capable and I am proud to know him as a good colleague. We are fellow members of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. This is reprinted here with his permission.
Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders