I know many of my readers outside the U.S. find it hard to believe my assessment of my own country people. Some think I exaggerate the xenophobia and ethnocentrism that is rampant in today’s U.S. society.
Currently, Islam is the bogeyman in the U.S. “Islam is not a religion of peace,” is a commonly-heard statement. Radio and TV shows openly use racist terms to describe Muslims, as do the print media. Muslims keep a very low profile in my home country.
Yesterday, I received a short message from a friend who lived in California until 1997. Then, he moved to Wisconsin and shortly after became a born-again Christian.
Over the past few years, he has sent me numerous articles and statements he has received on the Internet, many from mass e-mails. I have told him that they are untrue and are urban legends. Still, he has a tendency to believe them, even after I point out the bogus messages through fact.
My friend’s only source for news is FOX News. He visits religious, right-wing websites for his other information about the world.
With the last message, he sent some photos (that look doctored) of Muslims in England who staged a demonstration calling Islam a religion of peace. All the photos had protestors carrying signs saying that Islam will take over the world or that Americans should all die.
At least he had the open-mindedness of asking me a few questions. Whether my response will sink in is anyone’s guess. I am of the opinion it will not. Here is his message to me and my response.
What is your opinion on Islam? On the Moslem situation in general?
Also: Do you believe these pictures are possible? Not doctored-up?
This is an issue that will take days to discuss. Your side shows a few photos and says Moslems do not practice a religion of peace. Let me give you my assessment as an atheist: a neutral observer. If you would read my column (I am up to 424 now), you would have seen me approach these issues.
First of all, I have a few Muslim friends here in the U.S. and many Muslim people who correspond with me worldwide. They are intelligent, creative and insightful people who are not hate-filled. In fact, most are much more knowledgeable of the social mores and cultures of the world than any 10 Americans. They can point out on a map the state of Wisconsin or California, yet fewer than 30% of Americans can’t point out Iraq on a map. They correspond with me in eloquent English and it’s their third language.
I will list some points that Americans either don’t know or don’t want to know. On 9-11, almost 3,000 people were killed in a terrorist attack. We now say we will stop worldwide terrorism. But, we’ve only created much more. In 2001, there were fewer than 1500 terrorist attacks worldwide. Last year, there were more than 10,000. They have a reason. A few months ago, I collected data from an author who wrote about suicide bombings since 1980. His was the only definitive work on the subject. He listed dates, names, weapons used, etc. The conclusion startled many. Most suicide bombers are mainstream individuals (bank tellers, taxi drivers, cooks, etc.). They are not flaming Muslim fanatics. They were so fed up with the way that Muslims were being slaughtered by the U.S. or Israel that one day they’ve had enough and then they take action. Their intent is not to kill themselves, but to kill as many other people as possible. In other words, they are not seeking to be martyrs but to even the score.
In Iraq, before March 2003, there never was one suicide bombing incident ever. Not one. Now, there are several a day. Why? Only a blind fool would not realize it was because of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
People have forgotten the embargo years in Iraq. Nobody gave a shit. Now, today we may see a suicide bomber kill three Americans in an attack. Does anyone realize that the bomber may have had his grandparents and a sister die during the embargo because Iraq was not allowed to import medicine? Or because they were poisoned by drinking water? After a few days of bombing Iraq in 1991, Schwarzkopf took to the podium and proudly stated that the Iraqi drinking water would be poisoned for years to come. He laughed about it. Many resistance fighters now in Iraq did not laugh and they are getting back for the deaths of family members. A recent secret report emerged that showed the U.S. was well aware of the damage it created in Desert Storm and was well aware of the fact that hundreds of thousands would die because of this. Their only regret was that they hoped the world would not find out the real reason for bombing and then the U.S. would have a public relations nightmare. They did not even mention the Iraqi deaths. The report is scary because it was written almost like the results of a sporting event, not the results of a genocidal action.
From 1991 to today, the U.S. has killed about three million Iraqi civilians. In other words, Iraq has suffered one thousand nine-elevens. That’s quite a statistic. Those fighting the U.S. occupation today have not forgotten.
Now, let’s go to Israel. They complain about losing about 1500 people to Palestinian actions. Now, let’s look at the rest of the score. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces.
I have tons of photos that would curdle your stomach if your mind had not already been made up: eight-year-old Iraqis with their brains oozing out. Young girls with no legs and no arms. These were all caused by U.S. weapons. Many U.S. soldiers have bragged about killing Iraqi civilians. Recently, a soldier who was just discharged and has severe mental problems because of all the killing he participated in said that if he was on patrol at 3:00 in the morning and saw an Iraqi walking down the street, he would shoot him and kill him. His commanding officer said to either throw an AK-47 next to him or throw a shovel and it would be construed as a person who was ready to shoot the U.S. soldier or one who was planting a bomb. I have videos taken by U.S. soldiers in which they take glee at killing innocent people for no reason. “This one’s for you, raghead,” is a common statement as they walk up to someone and just shoot him. I know Vietnam vets who were on the front lines who tell me that even in Nam at its worst, the atrocities against the civilians were no where as much as those against Iraqis.
Now, having said that, listen to your everyday country people talk. “Fucking ragheads,” “Shoot ‘em all and let God sort them out.” Islamophobia is rampant in today’s U.S. So, take the attitude of your average American, add millions of deaths at the hands of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threats against Iran, what do you think? Should the average Muslim want to kiss George Bush? Of course not. They despise him and all the murderous actions that the U.S. military has concocted in Iraq. I know you don’t go to websites other than those of which you agree, but there is so much information out there about what I am talking about that the mind boggles. And, don’t forget George Bush’s statement of July 3, 2003. When asked about the Iraqi resistance, he said, “Bring ‘em on.” Many parents today in the U.S. are scarred for life because the resistance did bring it on.
Maybe Americans should live in a foreign country for two or three years. Their perspective would change immensely. There is no talk about who is gong to get bombed next. Most foreigners find this thought process despicable, yet U.S. citizens go wild if a country does not agree with the U.S.
Now, let’s compare Islam vs. Christianity and which is a peaceful religion. Recently, Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. What should Chavez do? Send Robertson a thank you letter. General Boykin, currently the head of the U.S. military operations in Latin America, speaks publicly, and in uniform, at churches around the country about killing people. He told a Somali warlord in 1993, “We beat you because my God is bigger than your God.” And, he’s the person who wrote the guidelines of torture for Iraqi prisoners. Nice Christian.
Two days before the onslaught in November 2004 against Fallujah, the U.S. Marines held a prayer vigil with Christian music playing constantly over the loudspeakers. They were being pumped up with Biblical statements. The colonel in charge stated, “We are fighting Satan and Satan is in Fallujah.”
The same signs you saw in the London demonstration are the same things you read on bumper stickers in the U.S., only the American version attacks Arabs and Muslims. Should they keep their mouths shut while they are being slaughtered? Are three million Iraqi lives worth less than 3,000 Trade Center victims? Put things in perspective.
I have knocked Islam as well as Christianity. For instance, Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq recently issued a fatwah to kill all homosexuals in the most vile manner. Now, in Iraq, gays are being slaughtered. This is inhumane and preposterous. But, at the same time, two weeks ago, the U.S. administration called Sistani “a man of courage and integrity.”
The Bible and the Koran are laden with violence. But, practitioners of both religions say that some stories are allegorical or do not apply to today. This is true. The fringe of both religions, however, maintain the literal word. These people are the problem, not a specific religion.
I’m sending you a photo. In April 2004, U.S. Marines killed 800 Iraqi women and children in Fallujah. And this was long before the major destruction of Fallujah. Prior to April 2003, the mass graveyard was the city’s soccer stadium. In 2001, the Iraqi government okayed a plan for me to take a dozen pro wrestlers to Iraq on a friendship tour. But, things began to heat up and both sides thought it better to call off the tour. We were scheduled to put on a wrestling exhibition where that mass graveyard is today. I think the people of the city would have preferred wrestling.