…Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin (a Russian immigrant), 1918.
As I expected, I got strong, immediate reactions from Muslim friends, and friends of friends, to my 22 July post on domestic terrorism by Islamic jihadists you didn’t realize you were friends with until they were arrested.
The replies ranged from worried and angry to sad and frustrated. Many are too personal to print. All share the same sentiment: we need to rid our religion of these extreme and dangerous people (to us, too – notice the “infidels” they’re intent on destroying include other Muslims who don’t endorse their radical philosophy?). Clearly we’ve been unsuccessful in doing that so far, and keep paying and paying and paying for it.
A few people expressed concern that either I or one of my loved ones had been on that hit list. No, don’t worry. We’d have been under FBI protection long before now and I’m sure none of us are important enough to make even the top 15 million jihadist targets in the Lower 48, let alone a list of 15, which presumably includes people like President Obama.
However, I’m Jeanette, I have a blog, and I’m not afraid to use it. If the posts I write somehow get me added to a future list of jihadist targets, that just means I’m doing something right. Sheik whoever, if you’re intent on taking out every American blogger who’s against Islamic terrorism, that’s a really, really long list (in the 10s of millions). You’ll need more than a staff of 2 in bush Alaska!
A few other people commented that Paul and Nadia Rockwood seemed not very savvy to get caught like that. I agree. Maybe they were dufuses who didn’t happen to hurt anybody. THIS TIME. LUCKILY.
But look at every terrorist attack in the last decade, successful or not. What do they all have in common? Without exception, they depended on passionate but unsophisticated foot soldiers whose blind commitment was exploited by more sophisticated, more deadly masterminds with actionable plans and funding in place. How convenient to have the targets all picked out, and the most convenient ways to kill them carefully researched, handed off to you like a…user guide?!
More importantly: how would you feel if you got that phone call from the FBI saying you made the Rockwood Top 15 and had to leave town on a moment’s notice?
Having said all that, it’s good to remember in these situations that other major religions have also, during one era or another, been hijacked by radicals on a global scale. This post isn’t nearly long enough to address the Crusades, for example. For 200 years, 1095 to 1291, there were 9 major waves – plus a few minor ones − of religiously motivated and politically sanctioned invasions from Western Europe into the Middle East, primarily to rid the Holy Land of Muslim influence, but also as a bonus to bring a half-dozen other objectionable groups of people under control. I know of no Christians today who are proud of their faith having been the force behind that bloodbath, which also carried millions of Christian victims, who were “in the way,” along with it.
Here’s a sampling of replies to my post, with reprint permission from the authors, all but one of whom are US citizens. I’ve included names and countries of origin, with my notes in italics. Smart, sane people from all over the globe who love America – and in some cases made extreme sacrifices to immigrate that we wouldn’t consider making − and reject the hatred of fundamentalism.
Sam (Saddam), Iraq:
(Sam’s real name is Saddam, but because his last initial unfortunately is H, he got a lot of death threats to his work email during the first Gulf War. He took Sam as a nickname and became a citizen in 1992. He was arrested once, in Iraq, because his brother-in-law criticized the government.)
“I’ve been a Muslim on this earth for almost 50 years and never even once have I felt the need to make a list of people to kill. If I ever wrote a list like that and gave it to Sharon (his wife), she’d call the FBI herself!”
“What can I say, here we go again. It’s sad that our (3 American-born) kids are really good at explaining why it’s not us.”
(I’d seen Naeemah around, but didn’t know her at all until we met in the women’s restroom on 9/11. She was fixing her headscarf and crying. I put my arms around her and we held each other for a long time. I found out later that her citizenship ceremony had originally been scheduled for 9/11.)
“Pathetic criminals who need to stop calling themselves Muslims right now and find another religion in jail, which they deserve. WE REJECT VIOLENCE and want no part of this.”
Mohammed, United Arab Emirates:
“You don’t know me, but I work with Tom and he forwarded me your blog. WTF??????”
Another guy named Mohammed wrote me: “Do you remember when I came over to your team and moved into the building with my boxes and my prayer rug? Do you remember the sign you made for my door? Closed For Prayer.” I’d forgotten about that. Glad to hear, Mohammed, that you’re still praying 5 times a day and making your mama proud, although I’m sure she’s still not thrilled with that Southern Baptist girl you married. Can’t win ‘em all.
Zeytoona, Palestinian from Jordan:
(I met Zeytoona, which means “olive,” through our mutual humanitarian work.)
“So the FBI is just now realizing they should be looking for terrorists called Paul, not normal people called Ahmed (her husband)?”
Ahmed (a different Ahmed), Nigeria:
“Those people are TRAITORS. Deport them to Yemen (Anwar al-Awlaki’s headquarters)! They’ll love it there (NOT)!”
…and Hanan, Iraq, who I met in Barcelona and is the subject of my 9 June post The National Cookie of Iraq:
“I’m sorry. Please still come to Iraq.”
Hanan, you have nothing to be sorry about.