Recently a respected physician and religious leader in out local community wrote a letter to the editor supporting the condemnation and asking all religions to condemn the recent video mocking Mohammad (an important holy figure in the Muslim faith). It is those thoughts and recent events at the current meeting the UN in New York that I submit this letter.
Condemn is a harsh word. In this country we value free speech. It is the fundamental freedom/right that Americans have fought and died for throughout this United States history. In our society we value free speech. In America, being inflammatory, insensitive or downright “stupid” is not a crime. Timothy McVae had thoughts and beliefs that were no illegal in themselves, but when he killed people because of them, he suffered the consequences of his actions. His beliefs were punished not because of what they were but what they produced, his family was not punished. He suffered the consequences alone. There is a movement, both in the US and world wide to punish all Americans for the stupidity of one. Oddly, the North American Muslim Community is silent on this issue.
You see, in the arena of religion, one is free in America to speak as they wish. There is no fear of repercussions or reprisal because it is a protected right. It is not a Muslim right. It is not a Christian right. It is not a Jewish right. It is not a right for a Hindu believer or a right for a Buddhist or any other religion for that matter. It is a right for all Americans. But is even goes further than that, it is a right that people who visit this country and are not citizens. Recently, the head political figure of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke inflammatory remarks directed at Israel and Jews. Free speech was exercised on the Floor of the United Nations in New York and Mr. Ahmadinejad suffered no reprisal and no personal consequences. Further more, Jews throughout the world did not riot in the streets, killing and maiming others. Jews in the United States did not call for the killing of all Muslims throughout the world. When a self proclaimed artist took US taxpayer grant money and dropped a crucifix (a most scared object in the Catholic religion) and dropped into a jar of human urine, put a lid on it and called it art. Catholic Christians around the world did not go to the streets calling for his death. On the contrary, it was reported that a public official in Pakistan has placed $100,000 dollar on the maker of the defamatory video head and not one Muslim is outraged.
I find it perplexing to say the least, that leaders in the North American Muslim Community have been silent when Louis Farrkhan Spews vile, disgusting hate. They remain silent when Davis Duke (a known leader in the KKK) runs for office in Mississippi and wins. He goes on further to run for president and there is complete silence from the North American Muslim community. There was silence when the Black Panthers stood outside polling places and threatened voters. Not a peep from the North American Muslim Community there was silence when the residents of Detroit complained that they shouldn’t have to listen to the prayers of the Muslim population being blasted through the loud speakers mounted on the Mosque and they are met with a monumental fight of free speech.
This observation and I will close. I have personally spent time in a predominantly Muslim country. I served as a Chaplain’s Assistant in Afghanistan in the US Army and this is why I find it disturbing when religious leaders call for censorship. I have seen great men and women die for people to have the right of free speech. In predominantly Muslim populations (including the US), it is accepted to call for the censorship when it goes against Muslim religion. Throughout the world, in predominately Muslim nations it is accepted to kill people who say anything against any part of the Muslim religion. It is the biggest difference in the US and these nations. We are a nation of nations of free speech. We live for it. We fight for it. We die for it. No other country in the world values it as much as we do. No other nation protects it like the United States. There is a solution for those who want to silence words against Islam, live in those countries that support controlled speech and thought. America is not that nation. It is a Nation of Freedom.
No. Not one word of condemnation for the maker of this video. Let him speak. As stupid as he is, it is not a crime to be stupid in America. All religions need to protect this persons right to free speech. As vile is his video, he is free to speak. Her killed not one person. He injured no one, and yet there is a call for his death. Where is the outrage at those who seek to silence him? Where is the outrage at our government who will not stand for his right to free speech? Where is the outrage from the North American Muslim Community? Where is the outrage from the Southern Baptist? Where is the outrage from the Catholic Community. Where is the outrage from the Jews? Where is the outrage from the NAACP? Where is the outrage from the ACLU? Where is the outrage from the Atheists? Where is the outrage from the elected officials? That’s right, only silence. While you lay in your bed tonight and fall asleep I hope you can heart the voices of the dead who have paid with their lives for you to choose between silence and free speech.