An open letter to my Arab-Muslim neighbors:
You worry me. I wish you didn't.
I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your color and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don't blend anymore. I notice you, and it worries me.
I notice you because I can't help it anymore. People from your homelands, and professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now. I don't fully understand their grievances and hate but I know nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.
On Sept. 11 , 19 Arab-Muslims hijacked four jetliners in my country. They cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others. They took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favorite coaches, fearless public servants and children's mothers.
So I notice you now.
I don't want to be worried. I don't want to be consumed by the same rage and hate and prejudice that has destroyed the soul of these terrorists. But I need your help.
As a rational American, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to differentiate between you. How do I differentiate between the true Arab-Muslim-Americans and the Arab-Muslims in our communities who are attending our schools, shopping in our stores, enjoying our parks, accepting fresh baked cookies from a thoughtful neighbor, and sending their children out to play with ours while they plot the next attack that will slaughter those very same good neighbors and children?
The answer to my own question is that it is past the time for me to try to determine this. The events of Sept. 11th changed the answer. It is time for every Arab-Muslim in this country to determine it for me.
I want to know, I demand to know, if you love America. Do you pledge allegiance to its flag? Do you pray in your many daily prayers that Allah will bless this nation, that He will protect and prosper it? Are you thankful for the freedom that only this country affords? A freedom that was paid for by the blood of hundreds of thousands of patriots? Are you willing to preserve this freedom with the spilling of your own blood? Do you love America? And if this is your commitment, then I need you to start letting me know about it.
Your Muslim leaders in this nation should be flooding the media at this time with hard facts on your faith, and what hard actions you are taking as a community and religion to protect the United States of America. Please, no more benign overtures of regret for the death of the "innocent" (I worry who you regard as "innocent") and condemnation of "unprovoked" attacks (I worry what is "unprovoked" to you). I am not interested in anymore sympathy, I am interested only in action. What will you do for America-- the country-- at this time of crisis, at this time of war?
I want to see Arab-Muslims waiving the flag in the streets. I want to hear you chanting "Allah Bless America." I want to see Arab-Muslim young men enlisting in the military. I want to see a commitment of money and time and emotion to the victims of this butchering and to this nation as a whole.
The FBI has a list of over 400 people they want to talk to regarding the WTC attack. Many of these people live and socialize in Muslim communities. You know them. You know where they are. Deliver them up, now.
But I have seen little even approaching this sort of action.
Instead I have seen an already closed and secretive community close tighter. You have disappeared from the streets. You have posted armed security guards at your facilities. You have threatened lawsuits. You have screamed for protection from reprisal.
The few Arab-Muslim representatives that have appeared on the media are defensive and equivocating. They seem more concerned with making sure the U.S. prove who is responsible before they act, and protecting their people from any violence directed toward them, here in the U.S. and abroad.
If the true teachings of Islam proclaim tolerance and peace and love of all people, then I want chapter and verse from the Koran and statements from popular Muslim leaders to back it up.
Because even if the teachings in the Koran are good and pure and true, it matters little if large numbers of current Islamic practitioners interpret the teachings of Mohammed incorrectly and adhere to a degenerative form of the religion.
I want to know where every Arab-Muslim in this country stands and I think it is within my right and the right of every true citizen of this country to demand it. A right paid for by the blood of thousands of my brothers and sisters.
I am pleading with you to let me know. I want you here; as my brother, my neighbor, my friend, as a fellow American. But there can be no "gray" areas or ambivalence regarding your allegiance and it is up to you to show me where you stand.
Until then...you worry me.
Kevin Daly, Beltsville