Talking With a Friend Who Hates Muslims

By David Swanson

I recently sent the following note to a friend. The note I was replying to is pasted in below it. You might want to skip down and read it first.

**

Thanks for raising an extremely important topic, one that I think we should all be examining closely and discussing in depth, especially with those who are starting from different positions, and even if we’re afraid we may have to – in the end – agree to disagree.

The author you quote suggests that the United States faces a threat that began with the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. That may or may not be so. It does have a certain logic to it. But it’s useful, I think, to understand what that hostage crisis was. Understanding it does not require for one instant even contemplating condoning the taking of hostages. When two children argue, it is not uncommon to ask “Jimmy, why did you hit Johnny” and “Johnny, why did you grab Jimmy’s toy” and so forth. The point is not to condone the hitting or the grabbing but to try to get Jimmy and Johnny to talk to and understand each other, so that they don’t fight anymore. With that in mind, I would offer this brief section of a recent column by R.K. Ramazani, who is a professor at the University of Virginia here in Charlottesville:

“Iran took the initiative to establish diplomatic relations with the United States in 1883 for two reasons. First, by involving the United States in Iran’s affairs, Iranian officials sought to create a counterbalance to a century of British and Russian economic exploitation and political domination. Second, by attracting American know-how, they believed they could modernize their backward economy.

“Enlightened Iranians, however, aspired to more than economic modernization. They tried to create a democratic and representative government by constitutional means. As a result, Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 aimed at limiting the tyranny of the monarch and ending British and Russian domination. To these ends, in 1906 they established for the first time in their history a parliament, or Majlis, which continues to the present time.

“Given Iran-U.S. amicable relations, the parliament hired the American, Morgan Shuster, to modernize Iran’s finances. His reform efforts ran up against British and Russian imperial interests The Russians bombarded the parliament building and, in collusion with the British, forced Shuster out of Iran. As a result, Iran’s first democratic and American supported experiment with democracy failed to materialize by 1911.

“Iran’s second attempt to experiment with democratic government was also stopped in its tracks by foreign machination. This time, the American CIA staged a coup in 1953 that destroyed the popularly elected government of Dr. Mohammad Musaddiq.

“The United States returned the shah to the throne, and American economic, political, military and cultural domination ensued over the following quarter century until the Islamic revolution in 1979. Besides ending the shah’s regime, the revolutionary forces aimed at terminating American domination.

“After the shah fled to America, the militant students took over the American embassy and held 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days. The students claimed that they acted out of fear that the United States might try again to return the shah to the throne in 1979 as it had done in 1953.

“Just as the American destruction of the Musaddiq government had burned deeply into the Iranian psyche, the Iranian taking of American diplomats hostage humiliated the American public. These two events in combination have cast a long shadow over U.S.-Iran relations to date.”

Now, I know that neither you nor the person you quoted has an interest in installing a dictator in Iran or in stealing Iran’s oil, or in anything other than peace and cooperation. And I know that most Americans had those same interests in 1979. But it’s useful to be aware of what the Iranians were afraid of. They had elected a democratic leader in the 50s who had tried to keep Iran’s oil wealth for Iran, and our CIA had overthrown him and placed a US-puppet dictator in power.

Imagine what the Americans feared in 1812. They didn’t want a British king placed back in charge. They didn’t want to lose their democracy.

Now, Iran today does not have a democracy, but it has more of one than, say, Saudi Arabia, which does play well with U.S. oil companies. And if one thing could rally Iranians around an anti-democratic leader it would be an attack from a foreign power like the United States.

All of the incidents that Chong lists as constituting a single coherent threat to the United States over the past quarter century are equally complex and diverse. His focus, of course, is on the later events in his list, the attacks by al Qaeda.

In point #2 he asks why we were attacked, and offers one answer for the whole list of incidents: “envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms.” Now, in terms of freedoms, by almost any measure there are other nations where citizens enjoy more freedom than we do. In particular there are several European nations where people enjoy greater civil liberties, more wealth, better health, longer lifespans, shorter working hours, etc., everything that is typically termed “success.” But “position” may be headed in the right direction. In fact, there is little mystery as to why most of the attacks listed occurred, since the attackers have tended to spell it out quite clearly. In fact, al Qaeda has explained why they attacked on September 11th. They could be lying or deceiving themselves, but it’s unlikely they would lie when the whole point of terrorism is to pressure those terrorized to change what they are doing. Al Qaeda’s big concern was the presence of US military bases in Saudi Arabia. Now, most Americans don’t know this, but we have over 1,000 foreign military bases spread through most of the countries on earth, and most of those countries resent them. Chong says the United States made no provocative action, and yet clearly al Qaeda was provoked. The step that THEY took was mass-murder, for which there can not possibly be any excuse. But to refuse to even ask where it came from is as unhelpful as refusing to ask Jimmy why he hit Johnny.

Chong then asks who the attackers were and answers that they were, for all the incidents he lists, Muslims, and that Muslims are 25 percent of the world population. Yes, but they were also men, who make up nearly 50 percent of the population. They were dark-skinned people, who make up a large majority of the population. In order to establish that Islam is trying to kill us all, Chong first needs to explain how Islam motivated the attacks and then show that the particular brand of Islam that did so is present in all of Islam. When Timothy McVeigh blew up a building in Oklahoma City, we didn’t start making lists of all the Christian white guys who had shot up post offices and McDonald’s and high schools. We didn’t declare Christianity the enemy. We didn’t bomb the whole state of Oklahoma, or pick another random state like Oregon and bomb that one too. We treated a horrendous crime as a horrendous crime. We put our fears aside. We moved on with our lives. We can still mourn for the people who died that day in Oklahoma City. We can even try to find ways to better prevent such a thing happening again. But we don’t need to remain paralyzed in an eternal state of fear and condemn billions of people for the act of a few very troubled souls.

Chong almost seems to accept this point. He concedes that the enemy he is afraid of is not every Muslim, but rather the leaders of Muslim countries. But he does not specify who these leaders are. The United States, of course, supports and funds and arms Muslim dictators in many countries across the globe. Is Pakistan a concern? Is Saudi Arabia? Is Indonesia? Or is it the leader of whichever nation the United States wants to occupy next? And what about non-Muslim dictators? Are they a threat as well? The attacks of 9-11 were carried out by a gang of thugs, not a national leader. Any national leader who attacked the United States would be committing suicide. The United States spends more on its military than all other nations on the planet combined — over half of every single one of your tax dollars. There is no nation contemplating world domination, other than our own.

In point #6 Chong changes his story and says that it is “Muslim terrorists” we should fear, not Muslim dictators. But, then, he can’t actually believe that 25 percent of the world’s population consists of terrorists, can he? I find it very doubtful that the other 3/4 of us would still be alive. I find it very hard to understand how all the seemingly non-terrorist Muslims I know could be fooling me.

If we reduce “Muslim terrorists” to some reasonable definition, then the question arises how a Muslim (or anyone else) becomes a terrorist. Are they born that way? Our own intelligence agencies don’t think so. They have concluded that the US occupation of Iraq is breeding terrorists. The images of dead and maimed and homeless Iraqis that the Muslim world sees, but that we are sheltered from, are enraging people. When we arrest and torture the wrong people and let them go, they are enraged. When we kill someone’s father or brother they are enraged. In other words, we are creating more terrorists. In fact, al Qaeda has made clear that it wants the US occupation of Iraq to continue, but even more passionately it wants the United States to attack Iran. Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim group, whereas Iraq is majority Shiite. (This is why people laughed at John McCain when he claimed that Iran was supporting al Qaeda. What he meant to say was that one evil force was supporting another. It just happened not to be true, which is often the case when things are oversimplified and people are rejected as “evil”.)

But let’s set aside the question of creating terrorists. There remains the question of exactly how much we should fear them. The Americans who have been killed by Muslim terrorists are numerous, and they died horrible senseless deaths and we can mourn them and honor their memories. But more Americans have died occupying Iraq or from any one of a number of diseases or from preventable workplace accidents or from routine gun accidents (routine in this country, sadly). How do we choose which things to fear and which to set out of our minds?

Chong asks whether we can win a “war” against Muslim terrorists. Or rather, he doesn’t. He asks what losing it would be like. He has not one word on what winning it would be like. He clearly means to include the occupation of Iraq in this war, but no occupation like this one has ever ended well, and he offers no vision for how it could. If Iraq had a democracy, the first thing it would do would be to throw out the United States. Of course, this is not part of the US plan, which is laid out here:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

But it’s not clear to me that it would be acceptable to Chong either, even if it were possible. Most of the violence in Iraq right now is motivated by the occupation. A huge majority of Iraqis has always believed the violence would drop if the occupation ended. But the United States uses the violence as a reason to continue the occupation. You can see where this ends – or, rather, does not. But, if it ever did, would Chong accept leaving the Iraqis to handle their own affairs? After all, they would still be Muslims, and China would still be willing to loan us the money to keep occupying them, since China knows we’ll have to pay it back someday with interest.

While Chong says nothing about victory, he has a lot to say about defeat. Basically we will all die, because we will lose face and everything will slide down from there. Yet the drastic decrease in support for America in global opinion polls has occurred during and because of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. We are now seen as aggressors, kidnappers, torturers, murderers, and oil plunderers. We would benefit from changing that image, which does not reflect the interests of most Americans.

As Chong paints his portrait of disaster, it becomes clear that he really does believe that all Muslims are terrorists, and that they are terrorists even without a Muslim dictator forcing them to be such. Chong fears Muslim immigration and fantasizes about its horrors to the point of claiming that there are more mosques than churches in England. What if that were true? Is there really some way to calculate which of those two religions has been involved in more murder than the other? Or does this whole screed simply rest on the fact that Chong and his readers are Christians?

I use the term Christian loosely, since by one definition that term has at times meant those who see humanity in foreigners, strive to love their enemies, and behave as would the Good Samaritan.

Chong wants us to give up civil rights. Ben Franklin said that “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” Of course everyone deserves both, but giving up liberty tends to reduce security by empowering those who damage it. And, I don’t know where Chong has been or how long ago this thing was written, but we have given up the better part of our bill of rights over the past seven years. If the evil people hate us for our freedoms, we should be feeling a lot safer 🙂

Chong clearly believes it’s OK for Muslims to have no rights. He approves of torturing Muslims detained in Iraq on the grounds that the cruel dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, under whom many of the same people suffered, was also Muslim. Imagine if, in the early 19th century, a foreign power invaded and occupied the United States, and kidnapped random people and tortured and murdered them, and some commentator said “Yeah, well that’s OK, these dumb Christians were living under the cruelty of King George before we started torturing them.”

Or imagine removing any mention of religion from this equation. Imagine justifying the senseless torture of women or redheads or lefthanders or baseball fans. Seriously, imagine that for a minute, and then return to the question of whether you can justify torturing human beings simply because they were born in families that believe in a particular religion. Can you?

Chong builds his case for hatred of all Muslims and for considering them less than human by claiming that no Muslim nation has contributed anything worthwhile to the world. Yet when he counts the invading hordes of immigrant Muslims he uses arabic numerals. There is little in European culture that has not benefitted from the Muslim world, and vice versa. If we knew our joint history, we would not think of each other as animals.

Best,
David

Subject: MUSLIM TERRORISTS AND THE USA…
>
>
>
> An Articulate Piece written on the War we are Fighting
>
> “For what it’s worth …
> This is the most cogent and powerful essay on the threat of Islamic terrorism I have ever read. Dr. Vernon Chong is, without a doubt, the most articulate and convincing writer I have read regarding the War in Iraq . & ; ;nbs p;If you have any doubts, please open your mind to his essay and give it a fair evaluation. It’s also eerily applicable to other current issues, such as Iran ‘s nuclear program, immigration, NAFTA’s impact on American jobs, trade deficits, etc. I had no idea who Dr. Chong is, or the source o f the se thoughts, so when I received them, I almost deleted them, as well-written as they are. But then I did a Google search on the Doctor and found him to be a retired Air Force surgeon and past commander of Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio .”
>
> If yo u would like to see who this fine man is, go to this Air Force web site and look him up:
> http://www.af.mil/bios/bio.asp?bioID=5000″ Then read below.
>
>
> Muslim terrorists and the U.S.A. :
> A different spin on the war in Iraq : This WAR is REAL
>
> Dr. Vernon Chong, Major General, USAF, Retired
>
> To get out of a difficulty, one usually must go through it. Our country is now facing the most serious threat to its existence, as we know it, that we have faced in your lifetime and mine (which includes WWII).
>
> The deadly seriousness is greatly compounded by the fact that there are very few of us who think we can possibly lose this war and even fewer who realize what losing really means.
>
> First, let’s examine a few basics:
>
> 1 When did the threat to us start?
>
> Many will say September 11, 2001. The answer, as far as the United States is concerned, is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us:
> * Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979;
> * Beirut, Lebanon Embassy 1983;
> * Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks 1983;
> * Lockerbie,< SPAN style=”FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 13.5pt; BACKGROUND: white; COLOR: black; FONT-FAMILY: ‘Lucida Handwriting'”> Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York 1988;
> * First New York World Trade Center attack 1993;
> * Dhahran , Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex 1996;
> * Nairobi , Kenya US Embassy 1998;
> * Dares Salaam , Tanzania US Embassy 1998;
> * Aden , Yemen USS Cole 2000;
> * New York World Trade Center 2001;
> * Pentagon 2001.
>
> (Note: during the period from 1981 to 2001 there were 7,581 terrorist attacks worldwide.)
>
> 2 Why were we attacked?
>
> Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats, as there were no provoca tions by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessor, President Ford.
>
> 3 Who were the attackers?
>
> In each c ase, t he attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims.
>
> 4 What is the Muslim population of the World?
>
> 25%.
>
> 5 Isn’t the Muslim Religion peaceful?
>
> Hopefully, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with the administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (includin g
> 7,000 Po lish priests).
>
> (seehttp://www.Nazis.testimony.co.uk/7-a.htm
>
> Thus, almost the same number of Christians were killed by the Nazis as the six million holocaust Jews who were killed by them, and we seldom hear of anything other than the Jewish atrocities. Although Hitler kept the world focused on the Jews, he had no hesitancy in killing anyone who got in the way of his extermination of the Jews or of taking over the world – German, Christian, or any others.
>
> Same with the Muslim terrorists. They focus the world on the US , but kill all in the way — their own people or the Spanish, British, French or anyone else. The point here is that, just like the peaceful Germans were of no protection to anyone from the Nazis, no matter how many peaceful Muslims there may be, they are no protection for us from th e terrorist Muslim leaders and what they are fanatically bent on doing — by their own pronouncements
> — killing all of us “infidels.” I don’t blame the peaceful Muslims. What would you do if the choice was to remain silent or be killed?
>
> 6 So who are we at war with?
>
> There is no way we can honestly respond that it is anyone other than the Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and avoid verbalizing this conclusion can well be fatal. There is no way to win if you don’t clearly recognize and articulate who you are fighting.
>
> So with that background, now to the two major questions:
> 1 Can we lose this war?
>
> 2 What does losing really mean?
>
> If we are to win, we must clearly answer these two pivotal questions:
>
> We can definitely lose this war and, as anomalous as it may s ound, the major reason we can lose is that so many of us simply do not fathom the answer to the second question – What does losing mean?
>
> It would appear that a great many of us think that losing the war means hanging our heads, bringing the troops home, and going on about our business, like post-Vietnam. This is as far from the truth as one can get.
>
> What losing really means is:
>
> We would no longer be th e p remier count ry in the world. The attacks will not subside, but, rather, will steadily increase. Remember, they want us dead, not just quiet. If they had just wanted us quiet, they would not have produced an increasing series of attacks against us over the past 18 years. The plan was, clearly, for terrorists to attack us until we were neutered and submissive to them.
>
> We would, of course, have no future support from other nations, for fear of reprisals and for the reason that they would see; we are impotent and cannot help them.
>
> They will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, on e at a time. It will be increasingly easier for them. They already hold Spain hostage. It doesn’t matter whether it was right or wrong for Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq . Spain did it because the Muslim terrorists bombed their train and told them to withdraw the troops. Anything else they want Spain to do will be d o ne. Spain is finished.
>
> The next will probably be France . Our one hope with France is that they might see the light and realize that if we don’t win, they are finished, too, in that they can’t resist the Muslim terrorists without us. However, it may already be too late for France . F ra nce is already 20% Muslim and fading fast.
>
> Without our support, Great Britain will go, also Recently, I read that there are more mosques in England than churches.
>
> If we lose the wa r, our production, income, exports, and way of life will all vanish as we know it. After losing, who would trade or deal with us if they were threatened by the Muslims? If we can’t stop the Muslim terrorists, how could anyone else?
>
> The radical Muslims fully know what is riding on this war, and therefore are completely committed to winning, at any cost. We’d better know it, too, and be likewise committed to winning at any cost.
>
> Why do I go on at such lengths about the results of losing? Simple. Until we recognize the costs of losing, we cannot unite and really put 100% of our thoughts and efforts into winning. And it is going to take that 100% effort to win.
>
> So, how can we lose the war?
>
> Again, the answer is simple. We can lo se the war by “imploding.” That is, defeating ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose and failing to dig in and lend full support to the war effort. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. If we continue to be divided, there is no way that we can win.
>
> Let me give you a few examples of how we simply don’t comprehend the life and death seriousness of this situation:
>
> President Bush selects Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation. Although all of the terrorist attacks were committed by Muslim men between 17 and 40 years of age, Secretary Mineta ref uses to allow profiling. Does that sound like we are taking this thing seriously? This is war! For the duration, we are going to have to give up some of the civil rights to which we have become accustomed. We had better be prepared to lose some of our civil rights temporarily or we will most certainly lose all of them permanently
>
> And don’t worry that it is a slipp ery slope. W e gave up plenty of civil rights during WWII, and immediately restored them after the victory … and, in fact, added many more since that time.
>
> Do I blame President Bush or President Clinton before h im?
>
> No, I blame us for blithely assuming we can maintain all of our Political Correctness and all of our civil rights during this con flict and have a clean, law ful, honorable war. None of those words apply to war. Get them out of your head.
>
> Some have gone so far in their criticism of the war and/or the Administration that it almost seems they would literally like to see us lose.
>
> I think some actuall y do. I hasten to add that this isn’t because they are disloyal. It is bec ause the y just don’t reco gnize what losing means. Nevertheless, that conduct gives the impression to the enemy that we are divided and weakening. It concerns our friends and it does great damage to our cause.
>
> Of more recent vintage, the uproar fueled by the politicians and media regarding the treatment of some prisoners of war perhaps exemplifies best what I am saying. We have recently had an issue involving the treatment of a few Muslim prisoners of war, by a small group of our military police.. These are the type prisoners who just a few months ago were throwing their own people off buildings, cutting off their hands, cutting out their tongues, and othe rwise murdering their own just for disagreeing with Saddam Hussein.
>
> And, just a few years ago, these same type prisoners chemically killed 400,000 of their own people for the same reason. They are also the same type of enemy fighters who recently were burning Americans and dragging their charred corpses through the streets of Iraq And, still more recently, the same type of enemy that was and is providing videos to all news sources internationally of the beheading of American prisoners they held.
>
> Compare this with some of our press and politicians, who for several days have thought and talked about nothing else but the “humi liating” of some Muslim prisoners — not burning them, not dragging their charred corpses through the streets, not beheading them, but “humiliating” them.
>
> Can they be for real?
>
> The politicians and pundits have even talked of impeachment of the Secretary of Defense. If this doesn’t show the complete lack of comprehension and understanding of the seriousness of the enemy we are fighting, the life and death struggle we are in, and the disastrous results of losing this war, nothing can.
>
> To bring our country to a virtual political standstill over this prisoner issue makes us look like Nero playing his fiddle as Rome burned — totally oblivious to what is goin g on in the real world. Neither we, nor any other country, can survive this internal strife. Again, I say, this does not mean that some of our politicians or media people are disloyal. It simply means that they are absolutely oblivious to the magnitude of the situation we are in and into which the Muslim terrorists have been pushing us for many years.
>
> These people are a serious and dangerous liability to the war effort. We must take note of who they are and get them out of office. Remember, the Muslim terrorists stated goal is to kill all infidels. That translates into ALL non-Muslims — not just in the United State s , but throughout the world. We are the last bastion of defense.
>
> We have been criticized for many years as being ‘arrogant.’ That charge is valid. We are arrogant in that we believe that we are so good, powerful, and smart that we can win the hearts and minds of all those who attack us, and that, with both hands tied behind our back, we can defeat anything bad i n the world. We can’t!
>
> If we don’t recognize this, our nation, as we know it, will not survive, and no other free country in the world will survive if we are defeated.
>
> And, finally, name any Muslim countries throughout the world that allow freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, equal rights for anyone — let alone everyone, equal status or any status for women, or that have been productive in one single way that contributes to the good of the world.
>
> This has been a long way of saying that we must be united on this war or we will be equated in the history books to the self- inflicted fall of the Roman Empire . If, that is, the Muslim leaders will allow history books to be written or read.
>
> If we don’t win this war right now, keep a close eye on how the Muslims take over France in the n e xt 5 years or less. They will continue to increase the Muslim population of France and continue to encroach, little by little, on the established French traditions.
>
> The French will be fighting among themselves over what should or should not be done, which will continue to weaken them and keep them from any united resolve. Doesn’t that sound eerily familiar?
>
> Democracies don’t have t hei r freedoms taken away from them by some ex ternal military force. Instead, they give their freedoms away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece.
>
> And they are giving those freedoms away to those who have shown, worldwide, that they abhor freedom and will not apply it to you or even to themselves, once they are in power.
>
> Muslims hav e u nive rsally shown that when they have taken over, they then start brutally killing each other over who the few will be controlling the masses.
>
> What is happening in Iraq is a good example. Will we ever stop hearing from the politically correct about the “peaceful Muslims?”
> I close on a hopeful note by repeating what I said before: If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. I hope now, after the election, the factions in our country will begin to focus on the critical situation we are in, and will unite to save our country. It is your future we are talking about Do whatever you can to preserve it. I reiterate: our national election is under way.
>
> After reading the above, we all m ust do this, not only for ourselves, but for our children, our grandchildren, our country, and our world. Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal … and that includes the Politicians and med ia of our country and the free world.
>
> Please forward this to any you feel may want, or NEED to read it. Our “leaders” in Congress ought to read it, too. There are those who find fault with our country, but it is obvious to anyone who truly thinks through this, that we must UNITE!
>
> Lastly, I wish to add: at the risk of offending, I sincerely think that anyone who rejects this as just another political rant, or doubts the seriousness of this issue, or ju st deletes i t with out sending it on, is part of the problem.
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