Friday, October 22, 2010

How not to be a brave American

This week Juan Williams got fired by NPR. He was fired because he went on television and said "But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

I'm not here to discuss the merits of his firing. Was it political? Was it personal? That's not my concern. My concern is that we, as Americans, are becoming too afraid of our own shadow.

How would you feel if someone went on television and said one of the following:

"I get nervous when I see a black man because I think he's going to rob me."
"I get nervous when I see a Catholic priest because I think he's going to molest my children."
"I get nervous when I see a conservative because I think he's going to blow up a federal building."
"I get nervous when I see someone in a pro-life shirt because I think he's going to shoot an abortion doctor."
"I get nervous when I see a Fox News pundit because I think he's going to leave an obscene message on my voice-mail"
"I get nervous when I see an American tourist because I think he's going to be loud, stupid, and ignorant."
"I get nervous when I see an evangelical Christian because I think he's going to picket a soldier's funeral."

Would you agree with that person that it's all right to be nervous? Or would you tell that person to grow a pair and stop letting the media make you unreasonably afraid. We have enough actual threats to worry about, and the last thing we need is for people to be terrified of non-threats.

In fact, I believe that it is cowardly to apply a blanket label on a group. Americans aren't supposed to be cowards. We're supposed to shrug off threats and go on with our lives. We're supposed to be smart enough to separate the bad apples from the bunch.

Muslims don't make me nervous. In fact, if I saw a Muslim in traditional garb on an airplane, I would know that those Muslims weren't planning anything. Do you really think a terrorist is going to dress in such a way as to attract attention?

Bottom line, I refuse to be a coward. I refuse to let politicians and pundits tell me who I should be afraid of. I refuse to reject the values of the Founders by blaming an entire group for the actions of a few evil individuals.

Yes, the Muslim world has many, many evils that need to be stopped. So does a good chunk of the world that isn't Muslim. But those evils are no excuse to NOT be a good American. They are not an excuse to expect Americans to be better than those other, backwards places. My mother never let me get away with "but what about them" when I got in trouble, and neither do I allow others to play that card.

Let's be better than that.

Besides, you are more likely to be killed driving to work or from the flu than you are from a terrorist attack. The idiot next to you yapping on her cell phone while driving an SUV is far more dangerous than a Muslim in Muslim garb.

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