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13 March 2011

Demonizing Muslims

40% of all extremist plots in America were thwarted as a result of Muslim American help. The majority of terror plots in America since 9/11 has been committed by non-Muslims, especially right wing extremists and white supremacists. Muslim American terrorism and involvement in extremism has significantly decreased.

Yet Congressman King stubbornly insists that Muslims have not cooperated with law enforcement -- after the tune, why let the facts get in the way if I can hold on to my opinion.  Mr. King has convinced others that a congressional hearing must be held under the bombastic title, "Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response".  Something about this picture is very wrong!

As Lutherans we know how much Martin Luther agitated against certainty in most matters.  To be sure, Luther was certain of his faith; however, everything beyond that was for him a world in the process of becoming. He consistently warned against those who thought they had it all together, knowing full well that there are no such people.

Fellow preacher Barbara Brown Taylor comes to mind, in her interpretation of Nicholas of Cusa, one of Luther's spiritual forerunners. She says:

In Nicholas's scheme, the dumbest people in the world are those who think they know. Their certainty about what is true not only pits them against each other; it also prevents them from learning anything new. This is truly dangerous knowledge.  They do not know that they do not know, and their unlearned ignorance keeps them in the dark about most things that matter.

It's not for nothing that in old maps the edges, known as terra incognita (unexplored and thus unknown territories), were marked with the words "here be dragons".

Absolute certainty sells -- as one of my teachers used to say, "it's always cheaper to stay unconscious" -- but it's unrealistic.  Real life doesn't work that way; it's riddled with doubt and uncertainty and pain and suffering and blunders over blunders.

Luther laughed at those who tried to erase uncertainty and doubt and replace them with certainty and absolute faith -- against those triumphalists he held up the Cross of Christ in all its messiness.

Singling out one particular group -- in this case Muslims -- is always born of fear and self-righteousness, and always wrong, for there is no "other".

Singling out one particular group denies the fact that we are all made of the same fabric, one human family: no matter what we look like, no matter where we come from, where we live, what we believe, how we vote, who we call our friends -- we are one, and each of us has been made to represent our creator.  Divisions are all about power and the fear of losing control.  Divisions are selfish and greedy.

The only way to heal divisions is love -- which, as St. Paul writes, "is patient and kind; ... not jealous or boastful; ... not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; ... is not irritable or resentful;  ... does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends".

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

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