‘Muslim’ doesn’t mean ‘anti-American’

Newsweek published an interesting article about a Guantanamo guard who converted to Islam. The guard, Terry Holdbrooks, recounts how after he converted, his fellow soldiers staged an “intervention,” which involved forming a circle around him and yelling, asking if he had become a traitor and to remember who’s side he was on. The experience of Capt. James Yee is also referenced. Yee was a Muslim military chaplain at Guantanamo who was arrested for among other things, “aiding the enemy”. All charges against Yee were eventually dropped. Both Yee and Holdbrooks accuse the military, particularly the command at Guantanamo, of making systematic attempts to vilify Islam.

This attitude is a major obstacle for America in the global war on terror. It’s been said over and over, but yet frequently forgotten, that only a tiny percentage of Muslims are extremists, and even fewer are terrorists. However, if the U.S. continues to paint all Muslims, even those who volunteer to serve honorably in the U.S. military, as ‘traitors’, it will only increase the number of extremists and terrorists. When the U.S. says that Islam is the enemy, then it creates millions of enemies that didn’t exist before. Instead of being ostracized, men like Holdbrooks and Yee could be valuable resources in understanding Islam and understanding what separates an ordinary Muslim from a terrorist.

Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 3:01 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. James Yee will be on campus on April 16. Should we invite him to class?

  2. yes, that would be amazing, and do you think that the obama administration has/will change this image?

    • I hope so. He’s definitely been making an effort through small gestures, like referring to himself during his trip to Europe as “Barack Hussein Obama” and clearly stating that America’s fight is not, never has been, and never will be against Islam. Even though thus far it’s just semantics, its still more than his predecessor did. I think it will be a while before we know if this more welcoming attitude has any real long-term effects.

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