Colson: Not a good time for Muslim-Americans | AspenTimes.com

Colson: Not a good time for Muslim-Americans

with John Colson

I'm certainly glad I'm not a Muslim-American, because anyone of that faith must feel like they've got a target on their back right now.

I've never had anything particular against Muslims, based on what little I know of the Islamic religion, other than the understandable horror and disgust I've felt over the actions of certain groups who claim to be acting on behalf of the faith and its adherents.

I'm referring, of course, to the vile militant organization known as al-Qaeda and its vicious offshoots, including the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS (let's just ignore, for now, the variants of that name that have been making the rounds lately).

Practically everyone on Earth is now aware of ISIS' penchant for violence and evil acts, not to mention equally inhumane behavior by groups inspired by al-Qaeda and ISIS, all culminating in the recent beheadings posted on the Internet; a grisly serial display of intolerance for any views but those that they, the militants, espouse.

I forced myself to watch a couple of those beheading videos, in order to confirm my own belief that the people responsible are not only lacking any human virtues or morals, but also are capable of rampant and self-righteous ignorance of an incredible depth and perversity.

And it is these acts of unconscionable cruelty and viciousness that, unfortunately for the Muslim community in general, form the foundation for a vast portion of Western, non-Islamic views of all things Muslim.

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The upshot of this has not been pretty, to say the least.

Various factions have reacted to these acts, and others perpetrated since the 21st century dawned, with rage, bigotry and intolerance on their own, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Here at home, U.S. security officials have been dancing on the head of a pin, so to speak.

Muslim activists have risen in anger at being stereotyped as terrorists or terrorist wannabes.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies have portrayed themselves as working feverishly to detect and prevent further acts of terror here in this country by deranged devotees of power-hungry zealots masquerading as Islamic leaders. At the same time, they insist they understand that not all Muslims are members of al-Qaeda or ISIS and many Muslims, in fact, deplore the terrorism practiced by the militant organizations.

Some of the Obama administration's security apparatus, such as DHS head Jeh Johnson, have been meeting with Muslim community leaders in an effort to quell the general feeling that the U.S. is determined to paint an entire religious community with the blood-colored brush used to describe and defeat the extremists.

The U.S., of course, has a bad record in dealing with these kinds of issues.

All one has to do is look back into our past, when we dealt genocidally with the Native American population that preceded the European invasion of North America, or our treatment of millions of black Africans imported to this land as slaves, to understand why we are not exactly trusted by people whose skin is not white and whose religion is not based in some way on Christianity.

On the other hand, what's an American supposed to do when, all over the globe, fanatics draped in Muslim attire are committing atrocities in the name of devotion to Allah and anti-American zeal?

I'll tell you what.

We're supposed to understand that humanity is a terribly flawed example of an intelligent species, with our predilection for selfishness and hatred of anything we don't understand, and that means all of us.

Not just the jihadists, or the Russians, or the Chinese, or any other subsection of humanity.

People everywhere are cast from the same defective mold, regardless of skin color, socio-economic position, or any other insubstantial "difference" we care to point to when we declare our own particular brand to be superior to any other.

From that base of understanding, we need to further realize that there are those, there always have been, whose lust for power can hide behind just about any philosophy, any belief system, to justify acts of aggression, barbarism and butchery.

Thus armed, intellectually speaking, we can begin to look for ways to nail to the wall those individuals who use religion, or greed, or nationalism — whatever comes in handy — in their quest for riches, power and glory.

These individuals, capitalizing on frustrations borne of ignorance and its by-products — bigotry, and a savage and misdirected need to strike out — are the true enemies, not the easily swayed hordes who follow them, nor the innocent fellow-travelers who happen to share the co-opted religion or belief system.

I've known only a few Muslims in my life, and I've found them to be intelligent, provocative conversationalists, and possessed of at least as much concern for the future of humanity as I am.

They don't deserve to be tarred with the extremists' brush.

jbcolson51@gmail.com