A friend of mine penned this and allowed me to share it here with this community. I think given the unrest in the middle East, it is quite pertinent.
"Where are the Moderate Muslims?" by LS
Strange roads with different signs
Don't even know where we divide
Are you my enemy or my friend?
Cause I don't know you and you don't know me
It's the same sun risin', we all just look to the sky
If we try, we can work it out somehow
If you don't know me and I don't know you
How can we be fightin'?
We're all connected it's true
It's only love that pulls us through......Take That "Reach Out"
A few days ago I got into an argument with an acquaintance who was complaining about his perceived lack of "moderate" Muslims speaking out against the attacks in Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and other Muslim countries over the film depicting the prophet Muhammad as a liar, child molester and a drunk. He knew that the department I work in at Mass General deals with terrorism and international relations, and because of that he was insisting that "no moderate Muslims exist" and that "they should speak up if they really care about this country and are against terrorism, otherwise they don't belong here."
I shrugged off the argument, and then had a few days to think about what I should have said to him if I hadn't been so emotional. I first wanted to ask him if he expected the average Muslim American with a 9-5 job to buy talk radio time or TV broadcasting time in order to publicly apologize. If he wanted them to wear placards around their necks to remind other religions and cultures that they're not terrorists hanging out in suburbia. That they're actually against molotov cocktails, vandalism, riots and murder, but sorry that they don't publicly declare it everyday. If he wanted atonement, a shrugging of the shoulders, apathy. What answer could I have given that would have satisfied him?
I should have told him that they have been around us all along.
The liberals and moderates, the conservatives I debate with and the fanatics I don't want to associate with.
They've lived in the United States since before I was born, since I was five years old and met my first Saudi that wrote my name in Arabic, in junior high before I knew what the Taliban was, and after 9-11 when we could point out where Afghanistan and Iraq were on a map.
Their daughters put on makeup next to me in nightclub bathrooms and try on headscarves in Bloomingdales in Manhattan, they're brainiacs and prom queens, goth kids and tax attorneys. They cover everything but their eyes and wear bikinis in South Beach with pedicures and straightened hair.
Their sons are doctors that pray five times a day at Mass General, get blackout drunk at college ragers, play soccer at Oberlin, work the night shift at the family convenience store, attend Andover Academy, and run the stairs shirtless at Harvard.
Their mothers work fifty hours a week, co-chair the PTA, are politicians for human rights, and have their own servants. Their fathers wear tailored suits in the financial district, study genetics in a hospital lab, drive a cab seven days a week, and enjoy retirement in penthouses on Park Avenue.
They are friends with Jews, know not a single Christian, are married to atheists and would never associate with anyone that wasn't a "good Muslim."
They are my friends and my crushes and my biggest rivals; my coworkers and acquaintances, strangers and bosses.
They love their hair and hate their noses, could stand to lose five pounds, are beautiful cheerleaders, more handsome than I could ever imagine, are tomboys and girly girls, macho men and effeminate, happy and sad, angry and full of passion.
They are the ones that question everything they were every taught and the ones that willingly submit to everything they're told.
They are college students, babies in playpens, kids learning cursive in the third grade and elderly people in assisted living.
They attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans, camp in the White Mountains, vacation in the Hamptons and shop at WalMart.
They shun all pork products, sneak tastes of barbecue and eat ham sandwiches for lunch.
Their husbands are white, their wives are black, they have no clue about their origins, and they're from the same village "back home."
They're hillbillies and trust fund babies, Massholes and Angelinos, snobby and approachable, wild and sedate.
It is because they are human. And we are human. And humans speak up and stay silent, pray amongst themselves and drag a man to safety they don't know that has been shot by their fellow countrymen. If we learned anything post-9-11 it's that there needs to be dialogue and debate and understanding and meeting of people halfway. I should not have friends that are afraid for their children's safety because they look "obviously Muslim" or explain to an immigrant why that college student just screamed something at them from their car. We are better than this as a country, we are better than this as individuals, and if we have learned anything from Japanese internment camps, the Holocaust, the Red Scare and what is going on in Arizona right now, if we don't realize that we all want the same things, need the same things, and at the core of our beings are identical to one another, things will get much, much worse.