In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
Seven years ago today, terrorist fanatics attacked our country in New York and Washington, D.C. I will never forget that day; I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when the planes struck the towers. I still remember the chaos – unfolding before me as I listened to NPR on my way home from the hospital after I finished night call – of the hours after the initial attacks. I remember the horror of watching both towers collapse on the television before my very eyes, and I remember wishing and praying that what I was watching was all a dream or movie.
Yet, for all the horrible memories of that day, I also remember the way the nation came together after the attacks. Yes, there were episodes of backlash against the Muslim community, or people who were thought to be Muslim. But, those were rare instances. The overwhelming majority of Americans opened up their arms in peace and brotherhood to their frightened Muslim neighbors and told them, “Everything is alright. We are here for you.”
I will always remember that.
That feeling of unity was so soothing, so comforting, so reassuring. It was when our country was the strongest, and it was a resounding rejection of the attempt of the neo-Kharijites to divide and destroy us. Now that seven years have passed, I worry that that unity which blanketed the country may be fading away.
Now, whispers and accusations that Barack Obama is a “Muslim” is called a “smear,” and it is enough to dissuade enough voters across the country from even thinking about supporting him. What saddens me is not that they don’t want to vote for Obama, but that being a Muslim is considered a “smear.”
The fact that a voter in York, PA – speaking on NPR – said of Obama: “I look at Obama, and I have a question in my mind. Years ago, was he taken into the Muslim faith? And my concern is, the only way you are no longer a Muslim is if you are dead, killed. So in my mind, he’s still alive.” And therefore is a Muslim. When confronted with the fact that Obama has repeatedly denied ever being a Muslim, she replied that she did not believe him: “I really don’t [take him at his word] because I…there’s something about him I don’t trust. “
The blatant ignorance of this woman about Islam – really through no fault of her own – shows that there is still a lot of work to do to educate fellow Americans about the truth regarding Islam. It is what motivates me to continue the writing and blogging that I do.
We have to always remember the beauty of what is happening here in America: people from all over the world, with different skin colors, languages, ethnic backgrounds, and heritages, can live and work together in peace. Yes, there are the bigots and haters amongst us: but, thankfully, they are small in number. The overwhelming majority of us live in peace. Some of my closest friends – whom I consider to be family – are non-Muslim neighbors and co-workers.
Here, Muslim and Orthodox Jew can work together without having the tension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict disrupt their relationship. Here, Hindu and Muslim and live and work together in peace and brotherhood. Here, the age-old hatreds and conflicts that still flare across the world can be extinguished. This is truly a most remarkable place, blessed by God, in which to live and prosper. God has truly blessed America.
We cannot let that unity be disrupted. There are those who want to exploit our differences in order to divide us. There are those who want to make us fear and suspect one another. There are those that do not like the fact that we can live our national motto: E Pluribus Unum – “Out of many, we are still one.”
We may not agree over politics, or religion, or philosophy, or policy. We may not like the same foods or vacation destinations. We may have vastly different life experiences that shape who we are as people. But, we must always remember that we are one people – Americans – and that bind should be stronger than any force that may seek to divide us.
No, we may not vote the same way this November or worship at the same building on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, but we must always remember that we are one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
May the Lord God bless you all, and may God always bless the United States of America.