In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
I watched with shock, but not necessarily suprise, as Bill O’Reilly asserted on ABC’s “The View” that “Muslims attacked us on 9/11,” prompting Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg to walk off the set. Although he later apologized, he really hasn’t backed off his belief. On a recent episode of his FOX TV show, O’Reilly said this to Juan Williams, the former NPR correspondent who was fired for his anti-Muslim comments:
But – my analysis is that this Israel thing and that liberals feel that United states is somehow guilty in the world, of exploitation and backing the wrong side, and it makes it easier for them to come up with this kind of crazy stuff that, well, you can’t really say the Muslims attacked us on 9/11…Were they Norwegians? I mean, come on.
When Williams posed this to him:
Wait a second though, wait, hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don’t say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That’s crazy.
But it’s not at that level. It doesn’t rise near to that level.
He then later said:
I got to be careful, you just said it. I got to be careful. I have got to qualify everything 50 times. You know what, Juan? I’m not doing it anymore. I’m not doing that anymore.
So, he’s not going to qualify his statements anymore. Well, then let me tell you, Mr. O’Reilly, about those “Muslims” you said attacked us on 9/11.
Mr. O’Reilly, “Muslims” did not attack us on 9/11. Extremists did. Criminals did. Murderous thugs did. They were mostly from Saudi Arabia, and yes, I am sad to say that they claimed to be Muslim. But their actions spat in the face of the very faith they professed to follow. No, Mr. O’Reilly, “Muslims” did not attack us on 9/11, barbarians did. If you don’t want to qualify your statements, then I must do so.
Let me tell you about us Muslims. We are Americans, Canadians, Britons, Mexicans, Germans, Egyptians, and yes, even Israelis. Muslims come from every corner of God’s green earth. Here in America, we are doctors, lawyers, engineers, musicians, janitors, cab drivers, food cart operators, among many other professions. There are Muslim 9/11 first responders, and my close friend, a Muslim like me, was a doctor who was on the ground on 9/11 helping victims of the vicious attack get the medical attention they needed. He was on the ground when the towers fell to their destruction.
We Muslims are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, and husbands. We live all across this country. We go to work every day so we can take care of our families and contribute to the greatness of this country. We attend PTA meetings, get involved in our local schools, we go to our daughters’ softball games and attend their piano recitals. We go to ice cream socials and neighborhood picnics. We serve on local city and school councils, we run for public office, and we try – day in and day out – to make America a much better place for everyone.
We Muslims put our children in public schools, we put our children in private schools, we take our children to the local public pool, we go on vacation to Disney World and Disneyland, we travel this country and marvel at God’s awesome and beautiful creative power. We Muslims love this country more than any other place in the world, and we would not fathom betraying her for even one second.
We Muslims are fathers who have lost their daughters to cancer; we are mothers who smile in the faces of their children in the park each day; we are sons and daughters who have enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces to defend with our sweat, blood, and tears the freedoms all Americans take for granted; we are high school students who volunteer in hospitals and nursing homes; we are college students who collect food for the hungry and provide clothing for the homeless; we run marathons in honor of children who have passed on; we are triathletes who compete in their head scarves. We American Muslims do a lot of good things, amazing things, each and every day, but the media does not pay attention.
We Muslims have been attacked because of our faith, our houses of worship have been desecrated, attacked, and even burned to the ground. Our faith we love so dearly has been smeared and misconstrued. Our Prophet, whom we love equally dearly, has been maligned and vilified. He has been mocked and mutilated. We have been called “terrorists,” “murderers,” “towel-heads,” “camel jockeys,” “sand n***ers.” Some of us have been stabbed, beaten, and even killed for no other reason than we are Muslim.
Our Muslim sisters, brave enough to wear a head scarf out of conviction, have been harassed, attacked, and discriminated against. We have been told to “Go back to where you come from!” And this leaves us confused, because, America is where we come from; America is our home. Yet, we know that the the ugliness we have been shown is not the true face of America the Beautiful. The ugliness we have been shown belies what America is all about. And we know that this ugly face will not endure.
Are there some American Muslims who have betrayed our values and have either sought to do or have actually done harm to America? Yes, there are. And they are traitors whom we condemn with all our heats, all our souls, and all our minds. These miscreants no more represent us than Timothy McVeigh represents Christian America. The criminals who act in Islam’s name do not reflect us as a whole, just as the criminals in America do not reflect America as a whole.
Some of this may seem like complaining or whining, but it is not. Not at all. I am simply, however, pointing out the reality of Muslim America, which is a vibrant, loyal, successful, and patriotic segment of society that is here to stay. Despite all the negativity, all the anti-Muslim rhetoric, all the hatred shown to our community, we will not give up on America. We know that America is more beautiful than the ugly actions of some of her citizens.
Mr. O’Reilly, you said that we, “the Muslims,” attacked us on 9/11. We did not attack America on 9/11. Murderous criminals did. American Muslims died in those towers that tumbled to the ground on 9/11. American Muslims shed tears of pain on 9/11. There is no way that we, “the Muslims” attacked us on 9/11. That is because we, “the Muslims,” are Americans just like you, Mr. O’Reilly. We are Americans just like you.