Thursday, February 5, 2009

So We're All Terrorists Now?

An admirable trait in America as a nation is its quest to be a more perfect Union. It does not purport to be a perfect nation, merely one that is trying to get closer to that ideal. In it, there is a confession of falling short, and a determination to be better - two very admirable qualities that continue to serve America well.

Like many immigrant groups (e.g. Catholics, Jews) before Muslims, we are now the target of a massive campaign by a small-but-resourceful group for demonization. Over the years, this demonization technique has been perfected. Yet, the determination of every immigrant group has been able to defeat it. America is and has been the land where the children and grandchildren of immigrant laborers go on to become governors and senators.

A mainstream organization like ISNA has been in the cross-hairs of these hate groups for some time. What is interesting is the technique used. Having created the perception of a link between Muslims and terrorism (towards which many of our own have contributed rather generously), these groups now use innuendos to besmirch the reputation of any organization or individual.

Ingrid Mattson, ISNA's president, spoke by invitation at President Obama's inaugural National Prayer Service. She was very well received by leaders of the various faith traditions based on eye-witness accounts I have heard. I have known and followed Ingrid's work since she was a graduate student at U of Chicago. She represents the best in western and Islamic traditions. Modest, but walking as an equal with the best of the world. But hate groups have been pulling the levers they have put in place to label her as someone with "ties to terrorists." If Ingrid is "linked to Hamas" (which the readers' brains have been conditioned to translate as "Ingrid Mattson is a terrorist"), who among us is safe from such accusations and innendos?

There is bad news and good news in this. The bad news is, we're going to have to face a desperate group of people who have no shame and no ethics and who will try anything to besmirch the good name of Islam and Muslims. The good news is they are betraying signs of desperation. Remember how corrupt cabals with lots of power and wealth deal with a minority that threatens to expose their corruption? First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win. It's a rite of passage for every immigrant group to America as it stands at the cusp of a signifcant recognition. But we have to prove our worth and earn it.

We will have to steadfastly hold to being a just and fair people during this trial that lies ahead. We will have to do the right thing every day and ask our Lord for strength. In the end, I have no doubt as to who will prevail...this country has a fine tradition of that, and my faith assures me of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yup. there's more: