Reasonable people agree that not all Muslims should be blamed for the actions of those relative few that commit acts of murder in the name of Islam. This however, does not mean that Islam or its practitioners are exempt from legitimate criticism. While it is certainly both reasonable and understandable that a practitioner of this faith should step forward and respond to criticism of it, that response should have more intellectual depth than the standard rote answer of “You’re taking that out of context.”
It is unreasonable to demand that one has to have the entire Koran memorized to be able to comment on it, any more than a Muslim should be expected to memorize the Bible in its entirety before launching into the intellectually vacuous recitation of the Crusades as a justification for modern Muslim paranoia.
American Muslims claim to be just as loyal and patriotic as any other Americans. While I have no reason to believe that claim to be insincere, I’ve seen no action to back up that rhetoric. Part of the problem that exists between the Muslim world and the United States is one of misunderstanding of motives. It is not just the responsibility of non-Muslim Americans to work through these misunderstandings. Being open-minded must be a two-way street that both the Muslim and the non-Muslim drive across. Why have American Muslim religious leaders not organized groups to travel to the Middle East to establish dialogues with “the Arab street?”
To communicate from a position of your own commonality would go a lot farther toward building conciliatory relations than sitting here getting outraged because last semester one of the Hurricane’s columnists wrote about what is a well-documented tool used to manipulate young Muslim men into committing murder/suicide – the receipt of seventy-two virgins in the afterlife.
Can you imagine the benefit of a meeting in, say, Gaza where a group of American Muslim students met with Palestinian students? The American students might say something like, “Look we disagree with our country’s policy toward Israel, but take it from us, America is not out to destroy Islam.” Is that occurring? No. Instead of going over there and saying those things, the American Muslim community has decided it’s going to stay here and say, “You’re taking that out of context.”
Scott Wacholtz is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.