Bigots come in different forms. Dumb ones commit violence such as the Chattanooga Marine-killer and smart hatemongers induce sugar-coated poison. Planting the seed of doubt, bigotry and hate is like committing the soft killing.
In letter writer Richard Persson’s sneak-attack against American Muslims he wrote, “If you are a good Muslim you probably know who the bad ones are. Turn them in.”
I am a good Muslim, but I don’t know any bad ones. Persson seems like a good American. How come he did not turn in Dylann Roof, the killer of innocent black-church members, or Wade Michael Page, a United States Army veteran who slaughtered innocent Sikh worshipers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin? Perhaps, it did not matter to him because one was black and the others were Sikhs.
Another letter writer, Carmen Jacobson, suggests, “Muslims are fostering prejudice, distrust, and fear by their silence.” However, it is Jacobson, not Muslims, who is planting prejudice, fear and distrust. Her comments amount to injecting hate and prejudice — setting up some crack-head to target Muslims.
When naturalized, I was serving in the U.S. Army and pledged allegiance to America, but it did not require me to own the collective guilt of common criminals by association even if they are of my faith or community.
Should every veteran apologize for Wade Michael Page, or Joseph Whitman, a former Marine who killed his wife and 18 others, because of their association?
As a Muslim, I have very limited association-by-guilt, but as an American, my list is long and painful. Thirty two killed at Virginia Tech; Adam Lanza snuffed the lives of 20 little children and six teachers; George Hennard murdered 22 in Killeen, Texas; James Huberty murdered 21 in San Ysidro. And, Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson were only 11 and 13 when they committed mass murder.
In the past 30 years, there were more than 40 cases of mass murders. It is a sad commentary on our society and this is not the time to take pot-shots and stir more discontent.
I am saddened for the loss of innocent Marines in Tennessee, but I do not need to explain the actions of a common Muslim criminal, just as Christians, Jews, Hindus, or Americans of other faiths haven’t had to for all of the above listed crimes.
Together we need to build bridges, not target each other and foment anger.
Mohammad S. Shakir, director, Miami-Dade County Asian-American Advisory Board, Miami