Friday, December 4, 2015

Courage And Good Sense

This morning's ABC world news broadcast (at some hour) featured a San Bernadino city memorial gathering honoring those killed in the massacre. Visible front and center in the crowd was a young woman in conventional Muslim dress, her demeanor prayerful, her manner solemn. She had a choice to make, a decision about just what to risk, and in our society, no less rife with religious extremism than, say, Saudi Arabia, she put her own life on the line to make a simple declaration: typical Muslims do not approve of mass violence any more than, say, Christians, Jews or Unitarian Universalists. Kudos to her for her bravery.

My mind's eye looked back 14 years to Sept. 11, 2001. I lived in an apartment then. A young couple, my neighbors across the walkway at the time, were Muslim, she of American birth, he of Canadian. Neither their appearance nor their family name nor any audible accent distinguished them as being Muslim, but somehow, at the school attended by their two young sons, word got out that they were, and the kids... the older one might have been age 9... were harassed, both openly and (more troubling) also anonymously.

I regret to say this story has a happy ending: at the cost of both their jobs, and taking advantage of his Canadian birthright, the couple moved somewhere in Canada. Regret? Yes:  I grieve to see America lose potential solid, hardworking, honest and downright cheerful citizens. Happy ending? Yes: those kids did not deserve to be threatened with bodily harm because of their faith.

Yesterday and today, the young, visibly Muslim woman at the memorial gathering was courageous. Fourteen years ago, the young couple and their sons showed good sense. What kind of America do we put forth to the world, that any of these people have to reckon with consequences just for being who they are?

Here ends the lesson for the day. <sigh />.


  1. What kind of America do we put forth to the world??? I'd say we're perceived as a nation of greedy cowards. It isn't true, mind you, but that is how we're perceived.

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying, Shirt; Blogger went down for a while yesterday.

      Back on topic, as I recently read Eleanor Roosevelt's autobiography, I was reminded of the war crimes tribunals after W.W.II and the degree to which the US made the effort to see that they were conducted fairly, with some success. THAT was the US I want to see again today, the nation that faced genuinely hard issues with its best minds and came up with at least adequate solutions.

      I am fully aware (see Studs Terkel's ironically titled "The Good War") that many Americans' behavior during the war itself was less than sterling, and that the reputations of popular leaders tends to acquire an aura of near-sainthood after they die. But surely there was some truth to America's positive reputation then, and surely there are things our leaders can do today to handle the indisputably serious problems of terrorism in ways that do not offend large portions of the world.

      But our enemies have no interest in resolving anything except by our destruction, and our own Republicans in charge have no interest in anything... anything... other than their own political advantage. In that sense, W.W.II DID reflect our "greatest generation," and we are doing little to persuade the world that Americans of that sort are still around.



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