We celebrated Veterans Day on November 11. Yet one week before Veterans Day, a Fort Hood Muslim psychiatrist shot and killed 13 and injured 42 others.Was this about faith or a deranged mind? Is this the tip of the iceberg or an isolated incident?
Suspicion against Muslims has grown since the September 11, 2001 attacks on us by Muslims. Muslims are now the new police profiling group at airports, on airplanes and everywhere else. Many Muslims have been detained on the basis of suspicion as terrorists. A Muslim sounding name or looking appearance is cause for concern now. In a post 9-11 world, we cannot overlook the fact that Muslims have us on heightened alert. And after the Fort Hood killings, they undoubtably will be on red alert. Should Muslim soldiers be allowed the option of seeking conscientious objector status in light of the Fort Hood developments?
Religion is a funny thing. And yes, Islam is a religion, contrary to the utterly absurd remarks by Pat Robertson, that Islam is a “violent political system”. Yet, we sometimes make religion what we want it to be. The killings of abortion doctors and bombings at abortion clinics were done in the name of Christianity against abortion. Then there’s the doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel who kill or perform euthanasia as a so called “mercy” killing for the terminally ill. They kill claiming the Bible teaches us mercy. Other religious groups violently protest and disrupt the sanctity of funerals of soldiers using their Biblical beliefs against gays. Do all Christians believe in killing abortion doctors, bombing abortion clinics, killing the terminally ill and disrespecting, disrupting and protesting the funerals of soldiers? So is it any different with respect to Muslims? Not all Muslims preach hatred and kill as not all Christians kill in the name of Christianity.
During the Vietnam war, Muhammad Ali, sought conscientious objector status before being drafted. He was initially denied it and stripped of his Heavy Weight World champion title. He sought conscientious objector status on the basis of his Muslim religion and beliefs.
During World War II, Asian American soldiers were looked upon with suspicion and distrust. Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. Asian Americans fought against Japan for our country. During World War II, blacks were treated as second class segregated citizens as they fought for our country. They were not afforded full rights here or abroad. And then there’s the current gay and lesbian issue of don’t ask, don’t tell policy for fear of being further scrutnized.
The issues facing Muslims today are similar to the issues facing Asians and African Americans during World War II. Muslims have difficulty in fitting in military and civilian life as much as African Americans did during segregated times. They’re not an easy fit for the times. And no doubt psychological issues stem from these issues then and now. This is where the effort should be placed. We need to get our service men and women regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation the help they need to combat their unique issues in the military.
Should Muslim Americans fight Muslims? In today’s military, unlike Muhammad Ali, Muslim Americans volunteer to serve. They take the same oath all others take to defend our country. Let them do their job.