The tragic events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 are known to all. America was attacked, thousands of innocent lives were lost, it hurts, and I'm terrified about what's to come. War is promised, but against whom is still unclear. Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda militant group? The Taliban? Iraq, Iran, or Libya? All Muslim fundamentalists? I'm terrified America might wage war against all of them. I'm terrified more innocent lives will be lost.
Many hate-crimes have recently been committed against Arab Americans. Some have compared these attacks to the bigotry and distrust shown to Japanese, Italian, and German Americans during World War II. The comparisons are valid, however I suggest the ongoing racism perpetrated upon African Americans, as well as the continuing anti-Semitism against Jewish Americans is nearer to accurately describing these injustices. This is not self-defense against an enemy, but rather a response to differences among us. America is a nation of differences and I'm terrified we'll also wage war on each other.
We must exercise a zero tolerance to hate. Those who encourage hatred, be they a radio talk-show host after higher ratings or a so-called religious leader (i.e., Rev. Jerry Falwell's remarks blaming "...pagans, abortionists, feminists, homosexuals, the American Civil Liberties Union and the People for the American Way" for the tragic events of last Tuesday*), must be prosecuted if their words inspire the loss of a single innocent life. We must not become a nation of hypocrites.
It is not enough to be bipartisan, ecumenical, or tolerant toward those with life-styles alien to our own. We must do more. We must be honest and true. We must do battle against arrogance with as much vigor as the promised war against those behind the terrorism of last Tuesday.
Religion must be brought to task. Individuals have a right to believe whatever they want, but no one has the right to go door-to-door threatening Hell. Any religious group or cult which preaches hate and intolerance must be regarded as hostile to the concept and practice of freedom. We have served religion, religion has served us, yet we must dispassionately cease to quietly condone any religion which cannot function in a free and open society. It's time to grow up.
We learned nothing from the Salmon Rushdie affair, as even Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens, the musician who once encouraged everyone to "get on the Peace Train") thirsted for his blood. Religion should give comfort and not death sentences. I find no intrinsic difference between a Muslim ayatollah issuing a fatwah encouraging the taking of innocent American lives and the Roman Catholic Church allowing their representatives to stand beside Christian fundamentalist groups which support the assassination of clinic workers and doctors who perform abortions. We must respect an individual's basic human and civil rights and any religion which challenges those rights must be prosecuted according to international law.
Religions, if they choose to function in these chilling times, must forgo any rhetoric or dogma which promote differences. We must open our eyes and recognize the illusion of religion. God supports no one religion over another.
I call upon America to revoke the tax-exempt status of all religions. I plead with America to prosecute those who use hatred and encourage intolerance in the name of God. I beg America to protect us from fanatics. I demand America protect us from others as well as ourselves.
The attacks on America are the result of religion. It wasn't a military attempt to overthrow our government; it was a reaction to our backing of Israel and a continuation of over thirteen hundred years of hatred between Jews and Muslims. Religion murdered Americans.
Like most, I would lay down my life to defend my country, my family and friends, or perhaps even a stranger. However, I'm terrified of a senseless death. It's not dying, as we all must go at some point, but being murdered because I disagree with someone's religion is not how I want to finish this terrestrial tour of duty. Right.
McVeigh used farm fertilizer and the attacks last Tuesday used hijacked planes. One of the many illegal immigrants which sneak into America everyday could easily carry a portable nuclear bomb or drug smugglers could switch from pot and coke to anthrax and bubonic (or worse). We've known about the possibilities for years. I'm terrified.
All those victims in the planes and buildings, as well as the brave police and firefighters who answered their final call; why? Religion. It has to stop.
*Click here for more Falwell hate speech.
to the friends and family of the dead,
May God bless America. Now, more than ever.