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Don't Demonize the Islamics

Sunday, 16 September 2001 12:00 AM

It is not with the one billion people who adhere to Islam.

Both President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have stated rather emphatically that America is not at war with the Muslim world or, for that matter, the more than 7 million U.S. citizens who follow the prophet Muhammad.

Most of America’s Muslim and Arab population are hard-working, patriotic Americans.

Can you remember the last time you read of a Arab-American robbing a bank or committing any crime in your neighborhood? How many Muslim immigrants come here to the U.S. and go on welfare or become a burden to U.S. taxpayers? Probably very few.

Instead, visit New York and you’ll find them working hard. Take a taxi from Newark or JFK to Manhattan and you’ll find, more than likely, your driver is Muslim.

He probably has a family, works 80 hours a week, and hopes his son or daughter can make it to college. He wants a part of the American dream.

When Abraham Lincoln said that America was the last great hope of mankind, he didn’t mean to say just for white people, or just for Christians -- he meant for all of mankind.

This is a war started by religious fanatics that hate Lincoln’s view and America. Radical Islamic fundamentalists are people who do not want to live with their fellow man, unless they agree to their brand of religious fundamentalism.

Many Americans have the view that most Muslims are religious extremists and suicide bombers.

Hollywood, the media, Palestinians sending their children into gun fire and the "Muslim” people who just slammed four American jets against planet earth have helped to solidify that stereotype.

Muslims in America and around the world need to understand the anger Americans have toward them in the aftermath of these attacks. They need to keep their cool. And so should Americans.

Americans need to remember that most Islamic countries have had friendly relations with America and many have been strong allies.

Turkey, a Muslim country, is aligned with the U.S. and a stalwart member of NATO.

Egypt is solidly pro-American. There were no celebrations in Cairo after these bombings.

The majority of Egyptians fear the Muslim extremists just as we do. President Mubarak has only staved off assassination by close shaves. Anwar Sadat was not so lucky.

We know that during the Gulf war almost every Muslim country joined America in Desert Storm against Saddam Hussein. (Since then, Clinton’s policy of appeasement peppered with random, ineffective bombings against Saddam, has left many Arab allies bewildered.)

In the Gulf, countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait continue to cling to America for defense.

During the Cold War, Saudi Arabia played a pivotal role in defeating communism.

In Peter Schweizer’s most excellent book on the defeat of the Evil Empire, "Victory,” he details how Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director, Bill Casey, devised a plan by which they would cut Russia’s money supply.

As it turned out, Russia’s cash flow that kept its empire and revolutionary machinery at work came from $10 billion in annual oil exports.

The Saudis cooperated with Reagan and increased their oil production, cutting prices and thereby putting a stake into the heart of communism.

Of course, Israel, America’s democratic ally in the Mid-east, remains a serious bone of contention. But most governments in the Mid-East are more worried about their own, radical Islamic populations than they are the Israelis.

And still, most Muslim countries turn to the U.S. for support and leadership.

Clearly, Osama bin Laden and his radical backers want a jihad against the West.

But bin Laden, and the Iranians, know they can’t get Muslim populations to support them precisely because most Muslims like America. Robert Fisk, a British journalist who has interviewed bin Laden, writes in London’s "Independent” this weekend that America may be falling for a trap.

Fisk states that bin Laden wants America to declare war on Islam because that’s the only way he hopes to stir up resentment among the Muslim peoples against America.

As Fisk puts it, the Islamic fundamentalists want a "brutal, indiscriminate assault by the United States” on the Muslim people. This way the Muslim populations would overthrow their pro-American Muslim regimes.

America needs to avoid a war against Islam and focus its attention on the Islamic radicals.

We need to go after sources, and avoid front men like bin Laden. Iraq remains in a state of war with the U.S. and Iran is the principal source of Islamic revolution.

We should remember that Islamic fundamentalism was a footnote in modern times until Jimmy Carter, in the greatest foreign policy error of the last half of the Twentieth Century, allowed the Shah of Iran to fall in 1979.

Since then, Iran has become the breeding ground of Islamic extremism for the whole Mid-East.

Recent State Deparment reports say Iran remains the number one state sponsor of terrorism. The Israelis claim that with the help of Russia it is close to developing nuclear weapons.

In the wake on the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War, Americans need to assess what has happened and who really threatens them.

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It is not with the one billion people who adhere to Islam. Both President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have stated rather emphatically that America is not at war with the Muslim world or, for that matter, the more than 7 million U.S. citizens who follow the prophet...
Sunday, 16 September 2001 12:00 AM
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