Let's Keep Our Enemies Straight
Why should the commander of America's forces in
The problem began when Pastor
Nobody knows better than Petraeus after his experiences in
Our best strategy as sane Americans would be to ignore Jones, but this is the Internet age, a time when any street-corner prophet with a laptop can grab a global audience, especially if they do something shocking enough. Pastor Jones shocks with a website that offers one-stop shopping for Islamaphobes -- including his book, "Islam Is of the Devil," with matching coffee cup and T-shirt.
Add Pastor Jones to a recent rash of episodes that fail to show Americans at our courageous, egalitarian and levelheaded best. There was the local
There was Republican Texas Rep.
And among other ballot questions in
Does bigotry alone explain this backlash? I think not. Muslims have been a part of American life throughout our history. I believe most of the Islamaphobia showing itself in recent headlines stems from well-meaning worry about a rapidly changing world. Unfortunately, well-meaning worriers can be exploited for votes or profit no less easily than genuine bigots can.
We've seen this before. America's "melting pot," a phrase popularized by
There's no question that today's irrational fears and suspicions often are rooted in real differences. But "Know your enemy," as in the military saying derived from 6th century B.C. strategist
By threatening to set their holy book on fire, Jones makes the world's Muslims the enemy -- including those who serve either in or with the U. S. Military -- which only backs up the propaganda that
We Americans want moderate Muslims to speak up and denounce Islamic extremism. We need to do the same with our own anti-Islamic extremists.
Our country stands proudly as a model of free expression, even if some of our voices are infected with irrational fears. We Americans need to protect and preserve free speech. But we also need to be wise enough to make war with extremists, not with Islam, and to speak that truth to our fellow Americans who have trouble telling the difference.
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Let's Keep Our Enemies Straight
(c) 2010 Clarence Page