Silence Will Not Do: An Open Letter to Muslim America
What concerns me most about Muslims in America is not whether you condone terrorism. I believe the overwhelming majority of you do not. But I am concerned about your ability, or desire, to assimilate into American society.
Recently, British Cabinet member Sayeeda Warsi warned that Islamophobia is now socially acceptable in Britain. She also urged Muslims to make clear their rejection of terrorism. To be fair, Muslim Americans have voiced opposition to terrorism.
What worries me is that you might want to remake our culture in the image of Islam. That you might be opposed to our constitutional freedoms, justice system, and political system. That you might believe Sharia Law trumps American Law. These things are antithetical to our existence, and go beyond rejection of violence.
Decrying terrorism, while necessary, is half the expectation. The other half, that you support what America stands for, is too absent – and that makes me nervous.
You see, I like it here. Because of – not despite – the seeming chaos, cultural foolishness, electoral power-swings, military might, and Constitutional adoration, I believe our country represents the hope of civilization. I cherish America’s existence. To know subcultures exist within our borders that wish to undo what was accomplished in 1776 makes my hair stand on end. I include: The Nazis, the Klan, Color Supremacists, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and Ecoterrorists, to name a few.
The difference between these antithetical cultures and Islam is we know where they stand on America. I harbor no suspicion toward them because I have the data. I find them distasteful and requiring of close supervision. I do not, yet, find Muslims distasteful or requiring of close supervision, nor am I willing to say the opposite – because I simply don’t know where you stand. As with the subcultures mentioned above, much has been done in the name of Islam that cannot co-exist with the American ideal. And many of the tenets of Islam cannot co-exist, in strict practice, with the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.
Are you raising your children to embrace the American ideal? Can you accept the tenets of our Constitution? Will you defend them? How do you reconcile the seemingly incompatible elements of your faith as they relate to our rights and freedoms?
On June 7, 2010, thousands of Muslims in Egypt offered their bodies as human shields to protect Coptic Christians as they celebrated mass. It was a touching display of tolerance and unity. As reported in ahramonline:
“Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular Muslim televangelist and preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole …’This is not about us and them,’ said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. ‘We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.’”
The message “we are one” is badly needed here. And it must be voiced by Muslims in America as strongly as it was voiced by Muslims in Egypt. Until I hear from you, in America, more clearly, more vocally, and more often, I cannot be comfortable with Muslim America.
It’s difficult to understand why you are silent, when so much is at stake. If it is fear of reprisal from your religious leaders, that in itself is troubling. If it’s because you fear mainstream reaction, your right to free expression will be defended. But it’s difficult to come up with a reason for this silence that causes me anything other than concern; especially when extremists, in the name of your culture and your religion, commit unspeakable violence – daily. If we have nothing to fear, offer a counterbalance.
My suspicion will remain, and likely grow, until you clarify the Muslim American position relative to America; beyond terrorism. This is not Islamophobia. By definition, a phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear.” There is reasonable cause for concern. Call it: Islamo-disquiet.
I have a fundamental question to which I would like an answer: do you embrace America?
If the answer is yes, acknowledging all of America’s imperfections, I will defend you and your faith with the same ferocity with which I defend our Constitution. If the answer is no, to quote Nolte, “we ain’t partners, we ain’t brothers, and we ain’t friends.”
Either way, I request a response. Silence will not do…