Thursday, August 10, 2006

Notes from an apparent Islamofascist

I have been apathetic lately. No, make that painfully objective. I haven't let my emotions get the best of me. Just in the last year, I feel like I've returned to my old self. Nearly five years after September 11th, and I just now feel like I'm getting back to normal. Before 9/11, I was a, well, there's no easy way to say this, I considered myself to be Republican. I was raised in a small town in Kansas where everyone is Republican, if in name only. I voted for Bush in 2000 and ascribed to the "Sore Losermann" slogan that young Republicans everywhere were throwing around. Then, when he took the presidency, I changed my mind. It was like I suddenly realized how stupid he was. I don't know why I didn't see it before. At the time, it wasn't a big deal. Everyone assumed he would go through his presidency as a lame duck, nothing would change. Of course, 9/11 changed everything. Suddenly, it was as if everything he did was an attack on the Muslim community. Sure, he didn't blame Muslims, but yet every speech that he gave the impression that it was the United States vs. Islam, not the terrorists. It completely polarized the Muslim world. When my husband, brother, and I traveled to Egypt, everyone told us that they loved Americans, just not the U.S. government, and they hated Bush because Bush hated Muslims. In the Islamic world and among people I know, this is a universal sentiment. I haven't met a single Muslim who supports Bush. Lately, he seemed to have toned down the U.S. vs. Islam comments. Well, until today.

With his now infamous "Islamofascist" remark, President Bush has managed to alienate nearly every Muslim who woke up horrified to hear about the alleged terrorist plot. I instantly felt myself go on the defensive. I thought, "He just called Muslims 'Islamofascists,' not the terrorists, but Muslims." Never mind the fact that if this plot had been carried out, it would have been devastating, catastrophic, I can't even really find the right word. Having flown American airlines to and from London Heathrow on the way to and from Egypt makes it a little more real and a little more terrifying. Yet, the fact that he used the term "Islamofascist" was on the forefront of my mind, and the fact is, if it is on the forefront of my mind, it is on the forefront of the minds of potentially billions of people around the world.

I feel completely polarized again. The moderation is gone. Now I am so busy defending myself and my fellow Muslims that I tend to lose sight of the fact that there is a bigger issue at hand.
The issue that extremists have hijacked this religion, and every time that Muslims go on the defensive trying to explain that Islam is ultimately a peaceful religion, they end up sounding as though they are defending the terrorists.

While the vast majority of Muslims condemn terrorism and the taking of innocent life, they don't necessarily disagree with the political views of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda or Hizbollah. Most don't think Israel has the right to exist, they resent Western imperialism, and they think the Saudi government sucks, to name a few.* They may not condone terrorism, but they are definitely sympathetic towards the terrorists, particularly when Bush pits the West against Islam. Therefore, why speak out against the terrorists when they are the only force taking a stand against the "Zionists and Crusaders?" Governments such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, staunch U.S. allies, certainly aren't going to do it. They tend to repress innocent citizens under the guise of defeating suspected terrorists, while the terrorists fight against those same governments. After all, if your government was torturing you and you were innocent, and the terrorists came to your aid, who are you going to support? Probably not the government.

I guess my point is that until the U.S. and its Western allies make substantive changes to their foreign policies that at least give the appearance that they aren't waging an imperialist, Christian war against Muslims, Muslims aren't going to take substantive action to help quell terrorism, even though they know terrorism is wrong because in a way, they would be losing their voice, no matter how misguided that voice may be. In any case, this "Islamofascist" will sleep well tonight knowing that this alleged terrorist plot has been foiled. I just hope Bush's careless comments haven't overshadowed the fact that a great many lives, Muslim and otherwise, may have been saved because of these arrests. Your thoughts, anyone?

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