Christians who turn their backs instead of their cheeks
By Ray Hanania — America is filled with bigots and racists. It’s a sad fact of life in the “Land of the Free.” People are free to do what they want in America, short of imposing their views by force on others. They are also prohibited by laws that include stealing from another or committing acts of violence against others. They can express themselves freely. That’s not always the case in the Middle East, the Islamic World or even most of the Third World where dictators control people by flaming fans of hatred against unpopular issues and people. It might help to explain the actions of a racist moron in Florida who claims to be a Christian Priest, Terry Jones.
Jones is a bigot and tragically, bigotry against Arabs and Muslims is accepted in America, “The Land of the Free.”
He has announced a plan to burn a copy of the Quran at his “church.” He heads an otherwise insignificant Church of fewer than 50 followers called “Dove World Outreach Center;” the name is clearly a mean joke on the image of peace and love.
Like Islam, Christianity has its racist bigots and even its terrorists who murder for political reasons and wrap themselves in the Christian religion as a cloak of pride and power.
The Muslims in Afghanistan who are angry at Jones, a man who would have achieved nothing in this country had it not been for the human failing of hatred, racism and bigotry.
But their anger is no different than the anger we see in many Americans against Islam. Muslims are hated in this country, there is no question about that. Even reasoned people in the United States who are not haters will try to explain why the burden of the hatred falls on the shoulders of Muslims, not the haters. It’s as if they are justifying the hatred.
Jones is bathing in the spotlight, the glory of international attention. He’ll probably start telling people he’s concerned for his life because of his hate-ridden Burn a Quran Day campaign. And he’ll most likely point a finger at Muslims as the alleged threat.
In the Middle East and Muslim World, people are not free. Many are no different than Terry Jones. Christians are persecuted but have come to live under a state of siege as an everyday form of life in Islamic countries. Christian Arabs like me, of course, become targets of Islamic extremists for saying that. Christians are supposed to remain silent.
Ironically, a Christian like Terry Jones who claims to love Christianity isn’t doing anything about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East or the Islamic World because he doesn’t care about Christians. He cares only about fanning the flames of hatred and profiting from that hatred as he is with international media attention and cheerleaders of hate who surround him.
He would stand up to defend Christian Palestinians, for example, because Christian Palestinians are being persecuted not only by some extremists in the Islamic World but by the Government of Israel and the increasingly extremist Israeli people. Christians are denied rights, targets of hate and their land is also among the lands being stolen by Israel from Muslim Arabs.
So a person like Jones will turns his back on those Christians who need support. He won’t stand up to defend them, which is the true spirit of Christianity. Instead, he’ll follow the evilness of the Christian extremists who hide behind Jesus and spew their words of incitement and spread their message of anti-Peace. Real Christians follow the teachings of Jesus who, during his sermon on the mount, urge the people to turn the other cheek when confronted by aggressors.
I don’t expect all Muslims angered with Jones to understand this logic. After all, many live under the thumb and censorship of oppressive regimes – some of which the United States helped to put in power.
But I do expect Americans and especially Christians in America to understand this conflict, and to make a choice to condemn people like Terry Jones rather than sit back and, by their failure to speak, fan the flames of hatred in such an unChristian way.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and Chicago Radio Talk Show Host. He can be reached at http://www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
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