By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Muslims in the U.S.: Reader comments and further reflections

First, I would like to thank all the people who commented on my recent post (“Sad about the situation of Muslims in the U.S.”). My post, as I indicated, was prompted by the article in the New York Times about productive, loyal Muslims in the United States who were feeling unwelcome and frightened by the mood of some of the country right now.

I have no agenda other than to promote values of tolerance and to support the diversity that makes our country both great and also economically vibrant. I do believe that for all our problems with cultural clashes, we are the most successful ethnically and religiously diverse society in the history of the world –- and a model for a globalizing world. I also believe that if there is one thing that will prevent, or at least inhibit, the economic and social decline that has eventually weakened so many great powers in world history, it is the potential for renewal that comes from immigration and new blood introduced into our country.

Welcome Muslims in our society is the right thing to do because diversity is part of our tradition and our strength. It is the right thing to do because at a time when Muslim extremists represent the greatest threat to the security of our country and to the stability and peace of the world, the last thing we want to do is provide them with ammunition in support of their claim that the United States is their enemy.

And it is the right thing to do because the vast majority of Muslims in the U.S. are peaceful, productive members of our society, and fellow human beings to whom we owe respect and friendship.

I agree with the commenters who stated that opposing the location of a mosque near Ground Zero is in no way the same as expressing hatred or intolerance for Muslims or for Islam, and I apologize if anybody got that impression from the post (though my personal view is that the mosque should be allowed there). My point was that the legitimate debate over the mosque had become an occasion for generalized expressions of fear and hate.

Also, I am sympathetic to the view that Muslims in the United States should speak out forcefully against terrorism, hatred and intolerance coming from some groups in the name of Islam. I will confess, however, that I am a little concerned that this demand is especially made to a minority group: Should Jews need especially to apologize for Bernie Madoff, or Catholics for the IRA?

I also agree with the commenters who noted that there are important issues of equality for women, intolerance and economic backwardness that many majority-Muslim countries need to deal with. A misplaced moral relativism shouldn't inhibit us from criticizing practices that violate human rights or endanger peace. But it doesn't seem that these practices are endemic to the Muslim-American community.

Finally, a message to "unsubscribe" -- Don't be unfair to conservatism by associating tolerance with the "far left," a group by the way that never has been particularly known for tolerance! I saw on the news tonight that Sarah Palin had come out on her blog against the Qu'ran burning disgrace.

Again, thanks for this dialogue!

Posted on Sep 09, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Reader Comments

Sat, Sep 11, 2010 Drivel Indeed

The WTC mosque is a blatant attempt to "plant the flag", and simply not a matter of some humble plea for tolerance. It's anything but that. The burning of the Korans, as insulting to Muslims as it may be, is certainly no more an atrocity than 9-1-1, the attempted Christmas Day bombing, or any number of other atrocities committed by extremeists, but NOT openly, emphatically, and energetically protested by the so-called "moderate" Muslims (as they so protested a mere cartoon in a newspaper). They can demand "tolerance" all they want, but so long as they refuse to practice it by forcefully demanding it from their Imams themselves, they certainly get no sympathy from me! Not that I have any personal taste for it, but Freedom of Expression permits the burning of those Korans, and I really could care less if Muslims are offended by it or not.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010

One of the biggest falsehoods being done to support Islam are the claims that particular bad individuals supposedly being with associated a Christian group are equivalent with most of these terrorists being with associated with Islam. Other than the IRA, a very localized organization, these Christian terrorists are generally lone wolves. Al-Quada is a very large, worldwide group of Islamic terrorist organizations continually conducting terrorist activities around the world almost on a daily basis for over a decade. Other Islamic terrorist organizations have been active for several decades. These organizations receive financial and moral support from millions of other Muslims - including many in the United States. The IRA does not even come close to that and the rest of these Christian terrorists are insignificant to the IRA. If one could make the claim that some forms of Christianity has a problem generating terrorists, and yes some people have made that claim, then it can easily be said that Islam as a whole not only is a major cause of terrorism, but sees terrorism as a moral tool to expand its control over the world. People need to open their eyes to Islam. It is not, and never has been, a peaceful and loving religion and is not supposed to be according to the Qu'ran. Those who condemn others for their supposedly intolerance of Islam (when they are pointing some of the many dirty facts about the religion), while supporting Islam, the most intolerant, by far, large religious group, are practicing hypocrisy because they are actually encouraging intolerance (from Islam) while claiming they are against it. And by the way, I am not a Christian or even a Jew, just someone with an eye on world history and world events.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 John M

Please,enough of this. Like someone else said I do not come here to read about this BS. The trade centers were attacked how long ago? Considering 3000 people died due to radical muslims, there has been very little anti-muslim sentiment in this country intil now with the ground zero mosque. The Imans who want this mosque built created the mode in the country. Being that there are already 100 mosque's in NYC, this has nothing to due with religious tolerance. If the Imans were really interested in building a bridge (this case a bridge to nowhere) to unite, then they would simply acknowledge that they offended the 9/11 families and others and simply move the mosque to another location.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 DG

In Amercica, religious intolerance should be it's own worst enemy. The separtation of State and Religion is what makes our society tolerate everyone's beliefs and is the cornerstone of the US. However, no religion in the US should be allowed to tell another how they should or should not be by print or by burning the others literature. Our Rev. Jones has forgotten the old addage, "Takes one to know one". I can't see the difference between his viewpoint or those of the muslim extreme.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 Dave K

Steve, you asked, "Should Jews need especially to apologize for Bernie Madoff, or Catholics for the IRA?" Madoff was a corrupt businessman who didn't claim he acted on behalf of Judaism. The IRA is a 'political' organization which doesn't claim it acts in the name of Catholicism. Your analogy is just not good. A better example is the moron in Gainesville, and MANY Christians have come out against his behavior.

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