Responding To A Nasty Message

In case you haven’t heard it, The United States of America witnessed another plane involved in an incident last month. That is right; planes are becoming quite popular for any kind of action. However it wasn’t popular enough for national media which covered the story literally for 5 minutes – far less than Tiger Woods’ public apology. As the headline indicated an ordinary accident, most of the people including me did not pay any attention to it; “Plane Crash in Austin”. Obviously an innocent pilot must have lost the control of plane and “crashed” to the ground. But after digging into the story online, it turned out to be a completely different case. A man named Joseph Stack, who got furious about corporate crimes and unfair taxes, “intentionally” flew his plane into the IRS Building. The picture was nothing but a reminder of 9/11; smoke from a huge building. Now as far as I know, if a man intentionally flies his plane into a building and kills civilians by blowing it up, you use a lot stronger words than a crash. “Terror” and “attack” are the ones that I am very familiar with. However, I was unable to see these two words in the details of the story. So if the expression “terrorist attack” cannot be associated with this event, what is it then? Well, you don’t have to be genius to answer that question. By definition, the incident must include a Muslim name (like Umar) and the word Islam, in order to be defined as a terrorist attack.

The message that the US authorities try to give its citizens is crystal clear: Stay away from Islam. The burning question is how effective is that message? Before answering that question let me tell you one more story you possibly missed. After Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab got arrested for the attempt of igniting explosives on board, a national radio called NPR conducted an interview with the passenger 19B, Jay Howard, who was sitting right next to him. In this interview, Howard told two strange things to the reporter. First, he said Umar was a typical passenger until the last ten minutes and after that, he didn’t seem to know what he was doing because the expression on his face was drugged and shocked. The second and the strangest thing is that the young college student, who is a pure white American, refused to use the word “terrorist” for Umar just like the national media refused to use the same word for Joseph Stack.

Back to our question, in my opinion, the authorities picked the wrong way to send their message. Because as they overemphasize the so called link between Islam and terror, people like Jay Howard are responding in a different way which is unexpected for them. Consider a society where at least a couple of priests are pleading guilty for the child molestation or sexual abuse charges in every single month. Moreover they are confessing that they have been doing this for years to a number of children. As a result the percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians dropped below 60% and the confidence in the church has hit an all-time low. In this environment, as they use terror and Islam in the same sentence 5 times in a day on average, it is backfiring from some people whose IQ is above 90.  Those people are being motivated to discover Islam as the attacks are becoming persistent. For instance a recent convert to Islam in South Texas, who was raised in a Catholic family then became a rock&roll punk with tattoos and piercings, says he decided to take a history class called Muslim Spain after terror-Islam related broadcasts. With his own words, as he was introduced to Ibn Al-Arabi’s mind-blowing philosophy, he started to read Quran and became a Muslim. Hence, it seems like the plan to keep the society away from Islam is not working, so let me see the plan B please.

Ahmet C. Gülenay, USA

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