Friday, September 17, 2010

The war of ideas

Guest post by Jared Stancombe 

Jared Stancombe, a 2009 graduate of Indiana University, is currently an analyst for a U.S. government agency responsible for national security. He is also in the officer selection process for the U.S. Marine Corps. He lives in Washington, D.C. 

Ed. note: Jared has been a frequent guest blogger at The Reaction. He has posted on Afghanistan and the Afghan War (here, here, and here), airline security (here), and the various threats to U.S. national security (here). -- MJWS

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The controversy over the proposed "Cordoba Center" in New York City has further demonstrated the toxic environment in which civil discourse takes place within the United States. One side states that it is their Constitutional right to build the center and that it will help develop relationships between people of other faiths to diminish perceived biases against the Muslim faith, while another side states that placing a "mosque" at Ground Zero is an offense to the families of the victims of 9/11 and that it could be a new base for Islamist militant terrorists. Demonstrations are held daily as the news pundits speak nearly 24/7 on the issue.

In Afghanistan, Afghans are rioting over the "International Burn a Qu'ran Day" recently proposed by Florida Pastor Terry Jones. General Petraeus and Defense Secretary Gates have personally pleaded with Pastor Jones to stop him from burning Islam's most sacred text.

In our connected world of social networking and 24-hour news, a little thing can make a huge difference given the right exposure. The fringe elements are gaining ground, showing an America that is fearful and hateful towards the Islamic faith. Republican congressmen and senators are using this environment to gather up potential votes before the midterm elections.

What does this show to the Muslims in America and all over the world? Muslims died alongside Christians, Jews, atheists, and people of other faiths in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and on Flight 93. Muslims currently fight in the mountains of Afghanistan and in Iraq either in uniform or alongside our troops with local police forces, militias, and armies. Others have fled conflict in the Middle East in hopes that America will bring them a new, successful life, while others still have become prominent and vital members of American society. What does the current political environment tell these people? Are Muslims seen as a threat to American culture and the American way of life? How can America win the war of ideas while so many Americans themselves view Islam as an inherent threat?

Islam will never be a threat to America's freedom, independence, and culture. Just as countless other people of other faiths, creeds, and belief systems have, Islam has become a part of the national identity. Being American means believing in freedom and independence and that you're a part of a nation that will never back down in the face of tyranny and evil. Further incorporating Islam into the national identity, welcoming its spirituality and message of peace, will only enrich the American identity, not weaken it.

By burning Qu'rans and broadcasting that building a "mosque" at Ground Zero is akin to Nazis building a memorial next to the National Holocaust Museum, we are only showing our fear and disgust towards a faith and people that we need to help solve complex global social problems and make America safer. By broadcasting such claims, we are playing right into the hands of Islamist terrorists who want fuel to support their claim that America is at war against Islam.

How is America supposed to win a global war against terrorism if its message seems unjust and antithetical to the belief systems of the very people we must extend a hand to to solve the problem of militant Islamist terrorism? The Islamic world must view the distortion and perversion of their faith as the enemy, just as we see it. Fighting terrorism is not just about how many boots are in the ground but in the strength of conflicting ideologies. Militant Islam cannot win in the face of the American philosophy of freedom -- we must show our true American colors by embracing Islam while the terrorists preach evil and practice tragedy.

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