In the Battle for Our Values, Be Prepared to Speak
Our local library has a used book shop attached to it. On a recent visit I bought several books, and as I was checking out, the librarian noted one of the books I was purchasing: What's Right With Islam Is What’s Right With America by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (of Ground Zero mosque fame).
I was buying this book to better understand America’s enemies. But this prim older woman misunderstood my intentions and began fawning over the author, saying she had seen him speak, exalting his good sense, and extolling the excellence of his book. When she noted my sour expression, she sternly admonished me:
You know, they aren't all bad … just like not all Christians are like Timothy McVeigh.
I thought my head might explode.
How dare this self-righteous, misguided fool assume anyone who does not approve of Imam Rauf is a bigot? How dare she compare all Christians to Timothy McVeigh, the one terrorist in recent memory tagged as a Christian by the media? Is she unaware that murdering hundreds of innocent men, women, and children is diametrically opposed to everything Jesus preached and everything Christianity stands for? I'm an agnostic Jew, and even I know that.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not shy or reticent about expressing my views, but I was so enraged and stupefied by this woman's brazen ignorance, I was at a loss for words. I mumbled something to the effect that McVeigh could hardly be considered Christian, to which she replied: "Well he thought he was." I weakly responded: "They said the same about Hitler, but that doesn't make it so." And I beat a hasty retreat before my emotions erupted.
Had I exhibited more self-control, I could have told her that Timothy McVeigh’s stated reason for his terrorism was in protest of government actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge, gun control legislation, and other acts he viewed as "fascist." Nowhere did he attempt to justify his actions with the Bible or Christianity. In fact, though McVeigh was raised a Catholic, he considered himself an atheist.
I might have named dozens of Muslim extremists who have recently committed acts of terrorism which they justified with direct quotes from the Qur'an. Not stories or anecdotes, like in the Bible, but imperatives to do exactly what they had done in the name of Allah. Then I could have asked her to name an equal number of Christian terrorists, and smugly watched as she sputtered and stalled for time.
Had I not let my emotions get the better of me, I could have told her of course Imam Rauf’s speech made sense -- he was lecturing to a Western crowd, seeking to bamboozle them by practicing taqiyya and kitman, two forms of subterfuge that are not only sanctioned but commanded by the Qur'an when Muslims are dealing with their infidel enemies. I might have also said that Rauf is in fact an Islamic supremacist who falsely claims the U.S. Constitution is Shariah-compliant, and who is (allegedly) up to his eyeballs in the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks the imposition of Shariah worldwide as stated in their charter.
I could have informed her that Rauf's book, uncontroversially titled for Western consumption, is titled quite differently for the Muslim world: A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America post-9/11. Then I could have gone on to explain that dawa is Islamic missionary work, an imperative to convert the entire world to Islam ... which Rauf wants to do "from the World Trade Center rubble."
Had I not been so stunned by this woman's confrontational stupidity, I might have mentioned Rauf’s repeated refusal to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, or even to call them terrorist groups -- despite their designation as such.
Perhaps I might have informed her that his book has been noted for its incorrect facts and figures, blatant falsehoods, and distortions of the true nature of Islam. Or maybe I could have mentioned the recent Arabic language interview where her esteemed bridge-building imam stated: “I don’t believe in religious dialogue.” (An interview that has conveniently vanished from the Internet.)
We live in a small town, with a small library which my wife and I frequently visit. Not only was I stunned by this librarian's behavior, not only was it apparent she was hopelessly entrenched in her views ... but I simply didn’t want to make a scene. How very unlike me!
I allowed that misguided woman to imply I am a bigot, when clearly she is bigoted against anyone who doesn’t share her erroneous views. If opposing Salafists and their enablers makes me a bigot, I guess I'll have to learn to wear that title with good humor and pride -- but I’m not bigoted against all Muslims. In fact, I’d be proud to break bread with Zuhdi Jasser, Irshad Manji, or Shoaib Choudhury, all of whom are Muslim and sincerely engaged in efforts to reform Islam. As it’s Muslims who are most often harmed by jihadists, if anything, my stance is more likely to benefit Muslims than that of liberal Western enablers like that librarian, who provide cover for terrorists in the name of multiculturalism.
Shame on her!
I compounded my failure by allowing her to smear Christianity with the stain of Timothy McVeigh, which I knew was an unfair, unsupportable comparison. For the sake of expedience, I acquiesced to her smug air of superiority without challenge. And because she hasn’t been challenged, she’ll undoubtedly impose her faulty views on the next unsuspecting victim who enters her sphere of influence.
There’s a culture war raging in this country, and I retreated rather than defend what is right. I allowed myself to be bested by an old woman’s ignorance and my own base emotions. I'm ashamed, and I will endeavor to do better next time.
To my compatriots, I offer my apologies for allowing our flag to dip into the dirt.