Yesterday, Neil Steinberg at the Sun Times took Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) to task for his ravening paranoia concerning Muslims. Rep. King paints with such a broad, decaying, brush that one would hope that his – to use the term inaccurately – “logic” would get turned around by someone. If all Muslims are to be held accountable for the actions of a psychotic minority then why aren’t all white people held liable for the actions of Timothy McVeigh or all Poles held responsible for the Unabomber?
Neil makes the argument that the current paranoia is comparable to centuries of abuse heaped on various minorities by “right thinking Americans.” He even opens his article with a quote by, former Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft.
‘The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another,” George Bancroft wrote in 1834.
He wrote that in his A History of the United States, discussing 1650s oppression of Quakers in Massachusetts. The colony had a law that those practicing “the accursed sect” have one ear cut off, on first offense, then the other, then their tongues pierced by a hot poker.
“It was but for a very short time, that the menace of these enormities found place in the statute-book,” Bancroft wrote. “The colony was so ashamed of the order for mutilation, that it was soon repealed.”
Shame at abuses the Land of the Free instigates against the innocent-though-different is a recurrent theme in American history.
Despite being a tolerant nation, in theory, there is always push-back, as the intolerant among us react to perceived threats, stretching from persecution of Quakers 350 years ago, to Thursday, when Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and the House of Representatives took a hard look at American Muslims to ask if they are living up to our purported standards.
Unfortunately, by making the point that this sort of thing keeps happening, he inadvertently seems to condone it. Almost as if there’s nothing to be done but wait for it to pass. I sincerely doubt that was his intention.
In the abstract, Neil’s article is 100% correct. The persecution of perceived threats has never protected us, or anyone else, from real ones. But we do not live in an abstract world. We live in a world where a dear friend of mine asked his Imam to say a prayer for me when I was going through a tough time. We live on a world which is round. It allows the actions we push forth here to come around and meet us in the back.
If Osama bin Laden was just another nut case with an ax to grind this article would need not be written. But, unlike many terrorists before him, he was wealthy as well as crazy. Sadly money will buy you followers as well as weapons. While he may not lead anything most people would call a conventional army, there is no doubt that he has wreaked havoc the world over. Even in his current country of Afghanistan he is not widely loved, despite what you may see on the news. One only need read The Kite Runner to understand that being terrified of someone is not the same as supporting him.
No matter what Osama and his followers have done, it still does not give anyone the right to use the phrase “all Muslims” in any sentence. It is no more realistic than saying “all Irish are drunks” or “all Italians are in the mob.” It is simply racist and untrue.
Worse yet is the fact that some of Rep. King’s followers are tossing out that rancid chestnut about the 72 virgins every terrorist is supposed to get upon entering heaven. That is a vile distortion of something that was never actually attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.
First, the actual verse in question;
The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: “The smallest reward for the people of Paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana’a [Yemen].“
That is from a Hadith by Sunan al-Tirmidhi. Unlike all of the quotes in the Holy Qur’an, this one is not noted by multiple witnesses. It’s as though he was hanging out with the Prophet in a bar and heard something no one else did.
Yes, I am aware the Prophet Muhammad didn’t drink alcohol. It’s a metaphor.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing in there that would support the idea of suicide = heaven + virgins.
In fact the Holy Qur’an is pretty clear on the subject of suicide.
But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily God hath been to you Most Merciful!
If any do that in rancour and injustice,- soon shall We cast them into the Fire: And easy it is for God.
Qur’an 4:29 – 4:30
See? Suicide = eternal damnation, not heaven.
That may seem a minor point to some, but it does seem salient.
It’s also not the only time the Prophet brought the subject up.
Narrated Jundab the Prophet said, “A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him.” (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23, Number 445)
Narrated Thabit bin Ad-Dahhak:”And if somebody commits suicide with anything in this world, he will be tortured with that very thing on the Day of Resurrection. (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 73)
Being blown up over and over for all eternity doesn’t sound like anything resembling any Nirvana I’ve ever heard of. Yet that is the proscribed fate for suicide bombers.
The simplest way for you to quell any misguided concerns you may have about Muslims is to go and meet some. You’ll find that they want the same things you want; a roof over their heads, food on the table and a family to love.
Or, to put it more bluntly, you’ll discover that if they had a clue where the heck Osama is hiding they’d happily draw you a map and help you present it to the nearest team of commandos you could find.
Now, sit back and enjoy a Zoroastrian singing about Allah in France with lots of Christians singing along.
I guess we all really can get along after all.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!