A reader writes:
I love my mother, but she exasperates me sometimes. She told me today that no Muslims should be allowed in the military. I told her that people used to think that about Catholics. To which she said, "That's different. We've proved ourselves. The Muslims haven't."
If I'd had the presence of mind at the time, I would have pointed out something that occurred to me afterwards. There are an estimated 1.1 - 7 million Muslims living in the United States (I don't think there's an exact estimate). Our country has been at war with Afghanistan (a war I supported with mixed emotions) for eight years. We have been at war with Iraq (a war based on a lie) for almost seven years. If Muslims match the caricatures bandied about by today's right-wing talking heads, wouldn't Fort Hood be just another day in America? Where are all our Muslim American suicide bombers?
It occurred to me (too late for my argument with my mother) that maybe the most important news about America's Muslims isn't what we hear, it's what we *don't* hear. I hope I don't sound like I'm damning with faint praise. "Good for those Muslims, they're not blowing themselves up in shopping malls!" I don't mean to. I mean to make a point: We have occupied one or more largely Muslim nations for several years, led by the dunderhead who described himself shortly after 9/11 as "on a crusade." And yet Fort Hood stands out precisely because of the rarity of Muslim American attacks on fellow Americans. This matters.
Yes it does. And it stands in stark contrast with much of Western Europe.