Last week on Facebook I shared a snarky post from a comic who observed that toddlers have shot more Americans this year than Muslims have, then proceeded to suggest a crackdown on toddlers (well, I thought it was kinda funny).
One of the responses I got was from my friend Joe (not his actual name), who is a really good, thoughtful guy.
He questioned if I had “forgotten” the 9/11 terrorist attack, during which 2,977 people had been killed in a single day. Perhaps I was taking too lightly the reality of Muslims waging a terror war on this country?
I thought I would share my response:
Joe, I’ve been thinking on your question about having “forgotten 9/11” and I think it comes down to how one chooses to “Remember” 9/11.
My friend Stuart, an engineering professor, was terribly shaken by the 9/11 terrorist attack–combined with the huge influx of Muslims into his community.
He was very concerned about these immigrants–so he got to know them. He spent time with them, learned their concerns & needs, and then became active in helping Muslim immigrants become settled and assimilated into their community–and he got his church involved, too.
They helped Muslim immigrants get furniture, jobs, language study, and support. The Muslims in that community love Stuart, and his church. If there was any Muslim among that group that came to the US with an agenda to create terror, I don’t know if Stuart would have changed that plan. BUT the vast majority of immigrants come because they want a better life.
Those Muslims who come and feel marginalized and unable to get ahead are prime targets of extremists. This is what we are currently seeing in Great Britain and Europe.
Joe, I will not deny the risk and reality of Muslim extremism, but I guess I am deeply convicted that a posture of hostility and adversarial marginalization is a guaranteed path to creating and escalating the enemies we fear.
I still think about the choices that Stuart made over a decade ago.
And it wasn’t that he wasn’t afraid. It was his fear that got him out of his chair, but it was COURAGE that dictated his CHOICE
I can’t guarantee what kind of dent that will make in this mess before us, but I do know that the language of HOSPITALITY and RESPECT goes a long way in the culture of the Middle East.
Perhaps choosing CONNECTION over ISOLATION has the chance of building bridges that can keep extremism from taking deeper root.