Friday, September 3, 2010

Will You Hide a Muslim in Your Attic?

There's some scary stuff happening in this nation right now. It has to do with Muslims. No, I am not afraid of Muslims. No, I do not believe that they are out to destroy our way of life. No, I do not believe that they are inherently violent people who see Christians and Jews as demons that need to be wiped from the face of the Earth. No, I do not believe they are the new boogie man hiding around every corner with a belt of explosives waiting to duck into some nightclub to kill himself and as many other innocent people as he can in a blaze of glory. It is not the Muslims that scare me. It is the people who are trying to make me so paranoid of the Muslims that I will forsake my principles and turn against my fellow human beings because their ways are different than mine that scare me. It is those who believe that people should be treated differently simply because of their religion that scare me.

Didn't we already go through this? How often does this deja vu have to happen before we get it? It wasn't that long ago when a national socialist country decided it wanted to restrict and regulate people due to their religion. The German Nazis were quick to label Jews as evil. They were the reason for all of mankind's woes. They were the spawn of the devil. They were racially inferior and needed to be controlled. Oh, it started off in a seemingly harmless enough fashion, with registrations and the like so that the government could keep an eye on them and make sure they were on the up and up and doing all their business by the rules, but it quickly devolved into something much worse. It quickly became one of the darkest chapters in human history.

Now we Americans are labeling the Muslims as evil. Now I'm hearing talk of forcing Muslims to register with government officials in some sort of bureaucratic registry scheme meant to track them. I've even heard some control freak individuals suggest that the Muslims be put into camps separate from the rest of the population. That is what is scary to me, that these ideas could even be proffered in a supposedly enlightened society.

Ask yourself, how would you feel if a group you could be identified with was being demonized in such a fashion? If they began to register people and then to round them up to put them into camps, would you fight back or would you cower and go along to get along? If you were to fight back, do you think they'd use that as propaganda to justify them rounding up even more of your people? Even if you were simply exercising your right to self defense, people would likely see you as being the aggressor once the media got a hold of the story and distorted it as they often do. Would you like this kind of treatment?

There was a great religious figure from the past who once said something like "Treat people as you want to be treated," or some such thing. It seems to me that is a philosophy that has fallen from favor these days.

This has all come to a head recently because some Muslims want to build a mosque close to where the World Trade Center in New York city once stood. They have been accused of all sorts of evil things, from wanting to build it there as a symbol of victory, to getting their money from terrorist organizations, to wanting to use sharia law to subjugate us all. It seems that when rumors like this abound the general public gets their panties in a wad and jumps on the protest band wagon before they check out the story and get all the facts. Until I knew better, I had heard that the mosque was being built on the same property where the twin towers stood, not some two blocks away.

The fact is that this is someone's private property. If that someone doesn't mind a mosque being built there, then it should be allowed. If those who don't want it built there are so concerned, they should at least try to raise the money to buy the property so that they can build a church or whatever else they want there. Another mosque in a city as large and diverse as New York is not going to suddenly radicalize all the Muslims in New York and create a war zone. They are not going to suddenly become blood thirsty, rabid savages intent on killing all that moves no matter the cost. They will likely continue to live their lives as peacefully and productively as they can and leave you alone to go about yours. They will likely keep to themselves to practice their religion and leave you alone to practice yours, so long as you leave them alone. That is how human nature works for those of us who are not paranoid busy bodies.

So what if it is decided to use government force to prevent these people from building the mosque? What if the worse case scenario happens and Muslims are forced to register so that government "officials" can keep an eye on them? What if it is decided Muslims need to report to camps until the "war on terrorism" is concluded? What then? If you don't think such things can happen here, I suggest you reconsider. Worse things have happened in other so called "enlightened" societies. More barbaric and brutal episodes of human subjugation have gone on even in modern times. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that such an episode could happen here. After all, the government has not followed its own rules as outlined in the Constitution in well over a hundred years.

What if you found out these camps were cruel and brutal to the Muslim people? What if you found out many were dying at these camps? What if you had a Muslim family living next door to you that you knew was peaceful and had harmed no one? Would you hide them in your attic? Or your garage? Or wherever you could? Would you keep them safe from the government wolves? Would you risk your own life in order to help fellow human beings?

That was the story of Anne Frank who was hidden by neighbors from the Nazis in World War II. That was a story of the light of the human soul in dark times. It was an heroic tale that showed the depths of caring that humans are capable of. I would like to think that I would be such a brave soul, able to hide fellow human beings from those who would cause them harm in their time of need. I can't be sure I would, however, and I hope I never have to find out. I would certainly hate to find out what fate would await those who were caught helping the Muslims if such a scenario were to play out.

But such dark times need not descend upon our nation. We should never have to discover if we are so brave to be able to help our neighbors in such a way. We have established the concept of individual rights in this nation and have outlined behaviors government officials are legally obliged to adhere to. They are supposedly not allowed to violate those individual rights, including the rights to engage in peaceful religious activity and to freely associate with others of a like mind. There are also individual rights regarding private property and one's use of it. The government does not own you, nor does it own your property, even though they think and act like they do. Government officials can only get away with what the populous will let them get away with. It scares me that so many might be willing to let them get away with not only dictating what can be done with someone's private property, but perhaps going even further and violating the individual rights to life, liberty and property because of one's faith.

Don't be fooled into believing that all people of any religion or race are inherently violent, or stupid, or any other stereotype. People are people and for the most part wish to live their lives as best they can, and as peacefully as they can. They wish, for the most part, to be left alone, especially when it comes to government intrusion. The vast majority find violence and conflict abhorrent and will engage in it only when they feel threatened or cornered. Those who commit violence against their fellow humans should be caught and punished on an individual level. It is simply wrong to punish a group because a few in that group have committed atrocities. Group punishment is a practice that has historically been found to disgust our sensitivities because of its inherent unfairness. That is even more the case the more brutal the punishment becomes. It is my hope that humans as a race have evolved beyond such practices and that we will not let fear and paranoia bring us back to that dark place in our souls.

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