"We Shall Overcome"
- Sunrise at the Desert Retreat House -
As I see it, the American response to global terrorism among today’s politicians crossed a new line the other day, taking us to the brink of some very dangerous territory. Muslims are now being compared to dogs and one presidential contender has even gone so far as to say that if and when he becomes President, every Muslim in America (even citizens who are Muslims) will be required to register their religious affiliation with the federal government.
Being somewhat of a history buff myself, I couldn’t help but compare this kind of vitriolic, strident rhetoric to similar speeches given in Nazi Germany as Fascism was gaining in popularity and Hitler was ascending as the grand “leader and savior” of the people. In those days, it was “all” Jews rather than “all” Muslims who were being vilified. In fact, as Germany fell sway to the fascist ideology, Jews in the country (including Jews who were citizens) were “registered" and singled out as a potential threat to society. Jews were forced to go around wearing a yellow “Star of David” sewn onto their clothing and eventually all rounded up and sent to concentration camps to be systematically eliminated.
Interestingly enough Hitler was so appealing to the general public because he promised he would bring Germany into a new era of prosperity and guaranteed he would “clean the country up,” making it safe and secure in times of great chaos and unrest.
When I listen to the speeches nowadays, this all sounds so frighteningly familiar to me.
I have asked myself why so many German people of goodwill would have not only tolerated but even applauded Hitler back then, allowing and even encouraging the Nazis to perpetrate such horrors against their fellow Germans who were Jews? I must say that living in America during this time of global terror I understand what happened back then a bit more clearly now. Today’s efforts aimed at singling out all the Muslims in this country are not all that different from what went on with the Jews back in the days when Fascism was taking hold in Germany.
Many Americans today feel threatened, they think that mosques should be closed and all Muslims should be registered - it’s such a slippery slope. Is the next step that our Muslim citizens be required to sew an “Islamic crescent” onto their clothing then sent off to camps to cleanse the society of any threat?
In some ways I am not surprised at the ranting of politicians who will say almost anything to get elected, the thing that bothers me most is how many people actually support what these politicians are proposing. When I hear calls for “registering all Muslims” I often hear more cheers of approval than indignant howls of protest. Maybe people of goodwill in America today need to pay much closer attention to that dangerous line we may have just crossed.
I have been thinking about something Dr. King once said. He actually makes more sense to me at this time in history than he did back when he first spoke these words:
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period
was not the strident clamor of the bad people but
the appalling silence of the good people.
Somehow this madness must stop!
For me, the thing that probably bothers me most is that many of today’s politicians and their supporters crossing over that dangerous line into a new territory of human persecution all call themselves “religious” people. So today, I am reflecting on three pieces of religious wisdom that seem to put all the strident clamor of the past days into some perspective:
The Buddha taught:
See yourself in others, then whom can you hurt?
The Holy Quran teaches:
All people have been made and formed into nations
So that they may learn to honor one another.
At their Baptism, Christians are asked:
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and
respect the dignity of every human being?
We live in dangerous times – somehow this madness must stop.