Do you know how inherently unfair it is for the sins of a few to be projected on many? What if all Christians were blamed for the Spanish Inquisition or for the evils committed by the Klu Klux Klan? What if all Jews were blamed for the excesses of Brit HaKanaim or judged according to the actions of the most ardent right wing Zionist? What if all “black folk” were perceived through the lens of the Crips or Bloods and in the process reduced as a culture of thugs? What if all “white people” were blamed for the evils of slavery?
Collective condemnation and assigning collective guilt is a mix of ignorance and sophistry. I am sure most people, irrespective of their political or social ideologies, agree that all Christians, Jews, “black or white” folk should not be judged based on the actions of a few. Yet, we live in an age where it is almost a norm to blame all Muslims for the heinous acts of a few zealots. To put this into proper perspective, Islam is the most populous religion–by far exceeding Catholicism which is the next largest religion. There are over 1,000,000,000 Muslims in the world; more than 15% of the world’s population practice Islam.
Out of a billion Muslims, a few thousand are radicalized enough to unleash terrorism in order to push their religious ideology. To then blame Islam as a religion of violence is absurd when less than a fraction of 1 percent are responsible for giving Islam a bad name. True enough, there are some who might turn a blind eye or not speak up against terror unleashed in the name of Islam or even some who might justify terrorism as a response to aggression, but a vast majority of Muslims in this world are people just like you and me who work for a better tomorrow and try to provide for their children.
The talking point by some is that Muslims should do more to speak against terrorism. But these are the same people who stay silent as our nation has been hijacked by plutocrats and our government commandeered by corporate radicals. How many of us are speaking up for veterans who are homeless as our government keeps declaring unholy wars in the name of profits and corporatism? How many of us are speaking up against a military-financial complex which has bought out every politician in DC and in the process has turned the world into a pyramid scheme? How many of us speak up as our government has effectively nullified our freedoms of privacy and abrogated the constitution in order to levy us to death?
Perhaps we are better off cleaning our homes in America before we preach to others about courage and duty to speak against radicalism for the true source of terror in this world are those who take in the name of crony capitalism and give weapons to insurgents in foreign lands that eventually gives birth to monsters like Osama bin Laden and ISIS. Did you watch the video of former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski giving a pep talk to Osama bin Ladin and his mujahedin compatriots (link). It was our same government led by Donald Rumsfeld that armed Saddam Hussein. And it was our same government led by John Kerry that was once best friends with Assad. Is it possible that there is a common factor between all these variables? I will let you connect the dots and see where that line leads—hint hint is a city by the Potomac River.
The alternative human that is Donald Trump ordered a weapon of mass human destruction called a MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) to be dropped on Afghanistan. This is a bomb that commits a mini-genocide against anyone who happens to be in a one mile radius of the bomb land zone. A bomb of this scale does not differentiate between combatants and infants, all perish in a burst of fire and hell storm. If we as Americans were rightly outraged when 19 terrorists demolished our beloved Twin towers, how can we abide unleashing the equivalent of 10,000 September 11th at a push of a button? Our leaders are normalizing terror against others, but we better be careful for the terror that is practiced on foreigners by our depraved leaders in time will be used against us by our very government that sees us–the people–as a threat to constantly monitor and keep tabs on.
The problem of terrorism is one that needs nuance to understand because the truth is nothing like the propaganda presented by the equally bankrupt Democratic and Republican parties and the disinformation that is pervasive in our corporate mouthpiece mainstream media. I humbly submit that America should stay true to the dreams of her founders and stop policing the world and stop being weapons dealers to the globe. Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars that our own military is not asking for, money that only benefits companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, how about we actually invest in the people here who are hurting and children who go to sleep at night hungry? We would find ourselves not having to destroy nations like Syria and Iraq pretending to be fighting for Democracy when in reality force is being used to steal the wealth of nations.
But let’s circle back to the issue of vilifying Muslims; not only is it wrong to blame one billion Muslims for the malicious actions of a few, it’s also a form of victim blaming for the largest victims of terrorism are the very same Muslims who are getting blown to bits and pieces as hell is unleashed in their nations. Over 100,000 Iraqis died during the George W. Bush administration as he loosened terror on a nation using the lies of WMDs as a pretext to demolish Iraq. Barack Obama took over promising to change the foreign policies of Bush only to enhance the immoral Bush doctrine by starting yet more wars in Syria and Libya and continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
We Americans would be the first to rise up if Russia invaded us tomorrow, so then why are some shocked when other nations refuse to be subdued when we invade them? We are letting our overgrown government make money for their corporate patrons on the front end by starting immoral wars only to then make even more money on the back end as they “fight terrorism” when in reality they are fighting people who don’t want to be occupied and told what to do. What would you do if your son or daughter was blown up by a missile? What would you do if your mom was entombed in a building that got eviscerated by a cluster bomb? Unleashing terror on people to fight terrorism is pure folly except for those cunning few who see it as a boondoggle for endless wars keep inflating the top and bottom lines of Wall Street and politicians who serve the corporate agenda.
I don’t write these things to in any way give credence or allowance to religious fundamentalism or to give implicit nods to those who choose to take lives in the name of a cause. Let me be absolutely clear here; anyone who takes the lives of civilians is a terrorist comparable to Hitler. In this I make no distinction between terrorists who wear suicide bombs and those who drop bombs from skies. Try as they might to use God as justification, heads of state and leaders who target women, men and children who are not combatants are doing the work of the devil and should be tried at the Hague for crimes against humanity. This is not something that should be seen through a prism of situational morality; a life is a—a life taken should be condemned by all irrespective of the nationality of the life takers.
The problem as always is that the powerful impose their hatred on the masses using ideology or dogma as a weapon. Even though most Muslims are peaceful, there are radicals who have perverted the Quran in order to justify their actions. Take for example the word Jihad and the people who call themselves Jihadists. Most people automatically assume terror when the word jihad is put forth before them. That is because zealots have used the notion of Jihad as a means to perpetuate warfare and to normalize the abnormal practice of taking innocent lives in the name of Allah. We Christians have our zealots too as some have used the bible to justify enslaving people and to rationalize blowing up abortion clinics.
True enough jihad is a battle but it has nothing to do with warfare of bombs and bullets. The true essence of jihad is a struggle within the soul of humanity and the battle between good and the evil that resides in all our hearts. Even though this struggle has many names, in the end these conflicts of good and evil gnaw at all our hearts irrespective of our religion or the lack of it. Jihad then, as true Muslims know, is not about blowing up buildings nor is it about vengeance. Jihad was supposed to be about the journey and the growing pains humans go through in order to let good win out in our souls. Jihad was supposed to be about returning malice with grace and kindness.
I briefly talked with Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director for CAIR, an organization dedicated to ensuring that Muslims are not unfairly maligned and works with other groups to ensure that people, irrespective of their faith or identity, are not maligned. Ibrahim noted:
“Muslims are almost unique in terms of how the community is treated. When people from other faiths or communities commit crimes, they are treated as individuals under the law. But when that person is Muslim, instead of focusing on the individual who commits a crime, a whole faith and a broad culture is stereotyped. This is un-American; it is not right to paint with a broad brush and color a whole faith for the actions of a few who are acting against the principles of that faith.”
As with all things, those who have intentions of imposing their will on others hijacked the notion of jihad in order to unleash bloodshed in the name of Islam. This is the problem with religion; the minute faith–which should be within–gets co-opted by religious personalities, faith is inverted from love to violence in order to control the masses. So if we are to speak up against those who commit destruction in the name of religion, we should speak up against all forms of religious zealotry for radicalism is one which is not constrained by region or religion. Singling out Muslims in a world that is witnessing death and destruction on a global scale is not only arbitrary, it is counterproductive and only creates more dissension that plays into the hands of radicals who flourish through our division.
I write these words as a Christian from Ethiopia–the birthplace of Christianity–who believes in an awesome God even though I try as much as possible to keep my faith between me and my creator. But I can’t keep silent as I witness an ever widening conflict between people as we are getting led closer to a prophetic conflict which should terrify all of us regardless of our belief system. I grew up in Northern Virginia and befriended countless Muslims in my life. Not once did I meet one Muslim who was so imbued with hate that he/she actually thought about partaking in malicious endeavors. In fact, the vast majority of Muslims I met in my life were kind and gracious and were the first ones to offer me food or hospitality.
The problem is that people who are hell bent on imposing their will on others—either through force or by doctrines—end up using religion as a cudgel. Instead of being love like as all prophets of peace have counseled us to be, too many take the opportunity to offer themselves up as gods refusing to honor the God within us. It’s the height of all folly; religions fighting over the name of God as if we are the ones who created God in our image. Whether we call the giver of life God, Allah, Egzayber, Yahweh, or the litany of names we confer upon Him/Her, how about we treat each other as children of God and be kind to each other without respect to the labels we call ourselves.
A wise man once told me that ego means “easing God out”; easing God out is what happens when we make everything about ourselves instead of serving each other. Religion thus ends up serving our egos more than it honors the love within us. The more we advance, the more we devolve. Wars over religion and the name we call our creator has bled the world for centuries and continues to do so. In reality, religion is just being used to impose ideologies on others and subdue once free people in order to make them property of others. Every religion does this as the radicals are empowered while the masses stay silent. This is why we have religious fanatics blowing themselves up overseas in the name of Allah and why we have an godless presidents Trump and Obama before him blowing up nations in order to satiate their egos. We follow endless leaders who are quick to take from us all but few of us listen to those who are willing to serve humanity.
Did you know that Muslim means servant? A doorman named Mohamed two years ago, when my life crumbled beneath me, told me that when I stayed at the Beacon Hotel. As I was entering the hotel during a cold February evening, Mohamed was the essence of hospitality as he greeted me with a warm smile and said “welcome my friend”. I remember this moment with precision because his kindness was a much needed break during a monsoon of malice that led to me becoming homeless. During a conversation with Mohamed the next day, he told me about his family and how he came to America to give a life of opportunity to his children.
Just like my father worked thankless jobs in order to pave my path to college, Mohamed was doing the same for his children. If we see past labels and divisions, we would understand that we have more in common than the dogmas, doctrines and externalities that divide us. A good friend named Jesse said “people often forget about the good Samaritan and the meaning behind it yet they stay quoting that verse”. Yeshua was told by the pharisees and “wise people” of his day to avoid the town of Samaria for it was full of gentiles. Yeshua rebuked this advice and traveled in towns that were populated with people we now would dismiss as “others” and “foreigners”. Yeshua did not build walls and feces, he built bridges with bricks of love and understanding. Maybe we should stop asking what Yeshua would do and actually do what he did for a change. What Yeshua did the most was serve his fellow mankind and treated his neighbors and “others “as God’s children.
The most honorable profession in the world are those who serve others. This is why parenthood is the most magnificent endeavor of them all and why Yeshua (Jesus) was the most honored of us all. Did you know by the way that Yeshua is mentioned more than any prophet in the Quran? I know this because I make it a habit to talk to people instead of judging them out of ignorance. So perhaps instead of judging and condemning people we don’t even know, we should be more like Yeshua and love people irrespective of their beliefs and stop condemning all for the sins of a few. In the process, maybe we should stop listening to politicians, pundits and zealots and actually start listening to those who serve humanity with kindness and love. #BrzezinskiStandard
“The war against terrorism is terrorism.” ~ Woody Harrelson
If you understand the message of this article and want to let love, not ego, be the guiding light of humanity, do your part to lessen the hateful rhetoric between religions and share this article on social media as you see fit using #BrzezinskiStandard. Especially share this with some people on the political spectrum who think they are people of faith as they bash others with hatred.
Check out the Ghion Cast video below that discusses the issue of fighting hatred with hatred. As all faiths affirm, love is the only way to fight injustice, all else lead to cyclical violence that is detailed in the video that talks about Ethiopia’s dive into cyclical violence and the suffering that it is causing there. This video and the message in it is not only about Ethiopia, the same issues are bleeding the world. Find out how below.
Below is a Ghion Cast about love, which is the greatest treasure of them all.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.