As an Egyptian-American Muslim, I have come across many reasons I am proud of my country. For starters, this whole freedom of speech thing seems to be a great addition to my basic civil liberties, considering the vast amount of other countries that use imprisonment as a direct response to civil disobedience.
However (and I’ve said this many times before) it is the love I have for my country that obligates me to say what I believe in regards to its foreign policy measures.
When Bob Beckel called for all “moderate Muslims” to denounce the Kenyan bombings and decided that those who did not were cowards, many people, including Opinion Editor Haley Lambert, did not see his viewpoint as a bigoted statement (Opinion Page, Sept. 30, 2013).
In fact, Lambert argues, it proved just the opposite because “by asking American Muslims to denounce Jihadist organizations, Beckel is implying that there are wide differences between the practitioners of Islam.”
Lambert also went on to ask (incredulously, it seemed) if I realized that the “U.S. military actually defends moderate Muslims from the wrath of the extremists or brutal dictatorial regimes?”
Lambert did not feel that denouncing American terrorism was comparable to denouncing Islamically-motivated attacks.
Let me preface this by saying that the term “moderate Muslim” or “moderate Arab” is a racist one. Imagine if people started saying “moderate Christians” or “moderate African-Americans”.
It would imply that somehow “regular” Christians or African-Americans were by default extreme in their values. When someone like Beckel says this, they are putting all Muslims in the category of “Jihadists,” with the “moderate” ones in the minority.
If Beckel truly believed there was a dichotomy between the two, why else would he insist on prohibiting the building of new mosques in the United States until the “moderate” Muslims denounced the acts of terrorism in Kenya? He wouldn’t insist, not unless he thought the majority of Muslims were a threat.
Lambert also took offense that a fellow American such as myself would compare the U.S. military to “rapacious, murderous Jihadists”.
I’m offended too, because I expect better from my country.
In 1968, more than 500 Vietnamese civilians were killed in the village of My Lai when American soldiers opened fire on women, children and the elderly in a senseless attack that was in no way retaliatory. Out of the 26 men who had participated in this massacre, only one was convicted and he got off without so much as a prison sentence.
A year later, there were reports of young Vietnamese girls who were kidnapped, gang-raped, and killed by American soldiers, though only case actually reached a military trial.
Fast-forward to the Iraq War and the statistics are astounding. Exactly 4,486 American service men and women were killed in Iraq.
A definite number of Iraqi civilians killed is not so precise, but it is estimated to be from 100,000 to 1 million.
To the people of My Lai, the United States military definitely fits the description of “rapacious” and “murderous”.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was not so much about liberating the Iraqis but rather going into an unjust war for the sake of domestic interests, as proved through the Downing Street Memos.
When the U.S. kills more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein, I’m guessing the hundreds of thousands of those killed would beg to differ as we insist that we only did this to “defend moderate Muslims from the wrath of extremists or brutal dictatorial regimes.”
I’m not saying our military is full of bloodthirsty soldiers, but there have been murderers and rapists among our service members.
And the awful, uncomfortable, gut-wrenching, makes-you-want-to-scream-in-shame truth is that the only difference between these soldiers and “Jihadists” is their nationality.
War is the ugliest part of human existence. There have never been victors of war, only those who have lost fewer people.
Because of this, there is no way we can state that the way the United States kills people is more justified than the way a “Jihadist” kills them. At the end of the day, a civilian is a civilian is a civilian is a civilian, no matter who’s holding the smoking gun.