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They shoot children, don’t they?

Tuesday, Sep 7, 2004

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According to The New York Times, when the terrorists took over the Russian elementary school, they shouted “Allahu akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”).

Does this surprise you, dear reader? Does it shock you that the people who deliberately attacked a school and then systematically shot and blew up little children did so in the name of Islam?

Unfortunately, the question is rhetorical. Having targeted little children for death, there is no atrocity, no barbarity, no act of evil that the human race cannot imagine fanatical Muslims committing.

We have already become almost inured to:

The slaughtering of innocent human beings as if they were animals while chanting Muslim prayers.

The reintroduction of black slavery and genocide against blacks.

The murder of daughters and sisters for imagined or real sexual behavior.

The stoning of women accused of adultery.

The burning of Hindu temples and Christian churches, and the destruction of among the greatest Buddhist sculptures.

The ban on women driving cars or learning to read.

The idolization of young men who blow themselves up while murdering and maiming innocent non-Muslims — and the theology of sexual rewards in heaven for doing so.

These are some of the atrocities being committed by Muslims in different parts of the world today.

It is, of course, only a minority of Muslims that engages in such horrors, but it is only Muslims who are doing all these things. Christians aren’t — even among Palestinians, there are no Christian terrorists. Jews aren’t — and when one Jew did deliberately kill innocent Palestinians in 1994, the rest of the Jewish world was horrified and demonstrated its revulsion in word and deed. Buddhists aren’t — despite the destruction of Tibet by the Chinese Communists, no Buddhists have murdered innocent Chinese, let alone non-Chinese who deal with China.

With the psychopathic cruelty at a Russian elementary school, have we reached the point where people of goodwill can ask serious questions about Muslims and Islam? Or are any challenging questions still to be dismissed as “Muslim bashing” or, even more absurdly, “racist,” as if religion were a race?

The truth is that everyone with a conscience has questions about Muslims and Islam. But the most powerful religion in America, the religion of tolerance, has rendered it almost impossible to ask any such questions. Most people are so afraid of being branded intolerant that the most natural and goodhearted questions are only posed by the handful who have the courage to do so (usually conservative Christians).

But good Muslims should welcome fair questions and not dismiss them as manifestations of bigotry. Most Americans have no a priori view of Islam. As far as they are concerned, it is one more religion that its practitioners ought to be able to practice in peace just as the members of every other faith in America do.

I know I have questions, and I know they come from a non-prejudiced place. And I can back up this claim.

Between 1982 and 1992, I moderated an extremely popular weekly radio show in Los Angeles on ABC radio. It featured a Roman Catholic priest, a Protestant minister and a rabbi. Beginning about 1987, I regularly invited Muslim representatives, marking the first time that Muslims were given such wide exposure on mainstream American radio or television. I developed such a good rapport with the Muslim community and its leaders that I was repeatedly invited to speak at the Islamic Center of Southern California, one of the largest and most prestigious institutions and mosques in the country.

And I in turn invited Muslim leaders to speak before major Jewish institutions.

Given this background, it is with the greatest sadness that I feel compelled to ask two questions:

First, is there anything in Islam or in the way Islam is now taught and practiced that dulls the conscience and thereby enables many religious Muslims to engage in or support atrocities that other groups, religious and secular, find inconceivable?

Second, the laudable condemnations of Islamic terror made by the Islamic Center notwithstanding, why are there virtually no public demonstrations of Muslims against the unspeakable evils committed by its adherents?

And while posing questions, here are two for liberals: Why are almost the only people asking these questions aloud conservative and religious? Where are you when it comes to acknowledging evil?

Yes, some people do shoot children, and good people have a right to ask why.

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