I recently posted several blog pieces during our trip to Morocco. While the reaction of most was positive, many took exception to my positive portrayal of Muslims and the Islamic Faith.
One struck me as shockingly ill-informed; bordering on dangerous.
The comment included a reference to a false meme about a one-time ban on Muslims coming to the US (never happened) often circulated among the jingoistic-inclined nationalists who see Islam solely through the filter of terrorism. The line that frightened me, not because I feared the truth of the statement but because others might see it as truth, was this;
We True Americans must be on guard against Islam.
The comment gave me pause. Someone, and I am certain they are not alone, believes there is such a thing as a “true American” which is both identifiable and necessary for this nation to survive. It made me wonder.
What is the definition of a true American?
So, I went looking.
Is Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, a Muslim by birth, who died in Iraq serving in the US Army and posthumously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service a true American?
Is Humayun Khan, a Muslim by birth, a US Army officer killed in Iraq serving in the US Army and posthumously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service a true American?
Is Dr. Ayub Ommaya a Pakistani American who invented the Ommaya Reservoir (used to provide chemo-therapy directly to the tumor site) a true American?
Is Khaled Hosseni, an American Physician and novelist born in Afghanistan best known for his novel “The Kite Runner” a true American?
Is Dr. Mehmet Oz, vice chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University a true American?
Is Charles Manson, infamous convicted murderer and lunatic, a true American?
Is Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber and self-proclaimed Christian, a true American?
It’s easy to pick and choose when one has an agenda. In particular, an agenda based on fear, ignorance, and misplaced nationalistic fervor. Islam represents the third largest religion in the US and the overwhelming majority of its adherents are as appalled by terrorism in Islam’s name as all those self-proclaimed “True Americans.”
Likely, more so.
I would dare say that the remaining members of the Native America tribes we Christians herded and hunted almost to extinction would argue about what a true American is.
That some people lay claim to be the only True Americans is about as far from the very nature of America as one can get.
And it bears remembering when they demand we follow their lead in denying others the same American dream we all enjoy based on their religion or place of origin .
I am fairly certain a true American is better than that.