The Cloud Over American Values
That is what I heard from a passing car when I was walking with my daughter down a street in America! “Terrorists,” out loud, and it was said with a voice full of hatred and resentment – a voice that terrified me and made me feel hesitant and frightened. I felt lost, homesick and out of place, and the first question that came to my mind was, “Who is the terrorist? Who was terrifying who?” The ones who were walking peacefully, or the aggressor who, out of nowhere, started attacking peaceful strangers?
This incident took me back to the year 1986 when I spent my honeymoon in the United States. I remember very well how my husband and I were impressed by the warmth and generosity of the American people. Everyone used to greet us with hospitality and a big smile. I always cherished those beautiful days. Fifteen years later, in April 2001, my infatuation with the American people grew even stronger when I accompanied my late father during his visit to Florida for three months to receive medication and treatment for Cancer. I felt so appreciative to the American medical system and care they gave my father. I was fascinated with the progress of science and how the Americans utilize this to help the weak. I was also very impressed by the Westerners’ appreciation of work and time; the basic values of my religion that were overlooked by my society.
Sadly though, seasons change and America that I visited many years ago is not the same today in 2017! I can see it in the eyes of some; in the negative attitude of shop keepers who do not even to respond when I greet them on entering their shop or when I pay at a supermarket checkout.
And for the first time in my life, I see American people divided into two groups. One group is still holding on to the precious values they were raised with; this was shown by the rejection, by some Americans, of the ban on seven countries (primarily Muslims) from entry or returning to the United States, even though they had valid visas. This view was also painted by the words of an American priest who gave a sermon asking the crowd to stand against injustice. I personally saw it in a park when I and my daughter sat next to an American lady while watching my grandson play. This lady turned to us and, almost in tears, she expressed her deep sorrow for the suffering of the Syrians and apologized for the Trump Muslim ban. This beautiful lady lifted my spirit and gave me hope – she renewed my faith in American values and people.
However, there are others who are affected, or I should say “infected,” by negative media reports propagated against Muslims, thus paving the way for stereotyping, discrimination and racism to take a place in their hearts.
There is nothing closer to the truth than Aldous Huxley’s (an English writer and philosopher) statement: “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” And now I see that, for political reasons, the current chosen “set of people” to be forgotten are Muslims.
I wonder why and on what basis those racists believe that 1.6 billion Muslims should pay a penalty of a crime they did not commit. And here, I would like to quote a German Muslim scholar when he was asked about terrorism and Islam, to which he answered, “Who started the First World War? Not Muslims!! Who started the Second World War? Not Muslims! Who killed about 20 million Aborigines in Australia? Not Muslims! Who sent the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not Muslims! Who killed 100 million Indians in North America? Not Muslims. Who killed more than 50 million Indians in South America? Not Muslims. Who took about 180 million African people as slaves and 88% of them died and were thrown overboard into the Atlantic Ocean? Not Muslims. First of all, you have to define terrorism properly. If a non-Muslim does something bad, it is a crime, but if a Muslim commits the same, he is a terrorist.”
Why are double standards prevailing in America? What happened to the values of Lady Liberty and the inscription that invited the destitute of the world: “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows worldwide welcome…cries she with silent lips, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”
At this point, I felt the urge to writing a message to the American leaders and people although it may never be delivered, but I am optimistic.
A Message to the American Leaders: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
If you desire to wage a war on terror, then don’t support the greed of the rulers who robbed their people’s dream to achieve their aims. Wage war on deception, and hypocrisy, which planted terrorism in our uncontaminated land. Go and fight the ignorance that turned even the smartest people into herds moving as instructed, yet with arrogance as they still debate with the philosophy of idiots! Declare war on poverty and oppression, which made terrorism a solution in the eyes of the desperate.
Bullets don’t kill hypocrisy, poverty, oppression, ignorance or terrorism; bullets kill only men, women and children. The other battles need to achieve the values that your country has spoken about for years, basically represented in justice, liberty and equality; and if you really want to limit immigrants coming from the Middle East, then don’t bomb their countries on the pretext of fighting terrorism. And remember that terror breeds terror; for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq led the whole area to be a fertile soil to the development of radical factions like ISIS.
And be sure that the most important part of wisdom is to be humane, and when you are humane, you will be able to unite rather than disintegrate, and as we all know, unity is the corner stone of any progress.
A Message to the American People: Never Fear
My plea to the American people is…never to let fear of others control you. Fear has never advanced a civilization. Fear breeds only ignorance and backwardness – learn from the history of others.
Indeed, the common values, which the United States used to represent, are the core of any civilization that shines in the world. And to keep the sun shining on America, these values should be always kept genuine and unspoiled.