Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Response to Islamophobic editorial of Cal Thomas

By Sofia Begg

In an op-ed last month entitled, “The War on Terror Must be Fought to Win,” Cal Thomas prescribed an all-out war against “the evil virus of Islamofacism.” He wrote that the war should be stepped up and “fought like World War II.”

Maybe Mr. Thomas should first recall the devastation that the last world war caused before writing such an ominous prescription. World War II was the single deadliest conflict the world has ever seen, causing tens of millions of civilian deaths.

As aggression by both Israel and Hezbollah escalated in the Middle East, we see that the need for more diplomatic and peaceful solutions to end the war on terror must be sought. Recent public opinion polls also suggest that the American people agree that US led wars are not providing for a safer, more peaceful world for any of us.

Neither is the propagation of violent and discriminatory rhetoric. It is true that Al-Qaida is a fringe radical group whose terrorist actions deserve condemnation. But the United States administration should not, as Mr. Thomas suggests, stoop to their level and wage state terror in order to overcome terrorism.

Nor should Americans allow themselves to buy into such hateful Islamophobic rhetoric that attempts to malign an entire segment of society. Over 6 million Muslims call America home and the percentage of them who preach or support hate and sedition are miniscule. Calling for the elimination of all them would not just be like summoning the destruction of World War II, it would be like proposing another Holocaust. The fight against Osama bin Laden cannot be won by those who espouse the same ideology as he.

And, targeting and marginalizing the vast majority of the American Muslim population who are peaceful, law abiding citizens cannot be anything but counter effective. Instead, soliciting the cooperation and assistance of the Muslim community might prove to be a better tactic. The goals and ideals of the US Constitution- those of freedom, equality and justice, American morals, and the value of human life, should not be taken lightly. America is the first modern state that has strived to accommodate all people regardless of their ethnicity, place of birth and religion. We, who claim to have moral authority, must exercise only the best of morals.

Last month, Mr. Thomas wrote, “Israel should say that if terrorists launch another attack, Palestinians would have 24 hours to turn in those responsible or face obliteration of the neighborhood where the terrorists hide out.” Well, Mr. Thomas, obliteration is now what thousands of starving Palestinians face in a land where they are cut of from the bare necessities of life. They are cut off, just as you prescribed; but the world is not a safer, more secure place because of it.

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