Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tom Friedman Column
In today's New York Times, Tom Friedman writes about the narrative of hate and blame that permeates throughout the Middle East. I quote from his conclusion in which he addresses himself to Muslims. "Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves." There is of course plenty of blame to go around. Israel and the United States are certainly not perfect. (I love them despite their imperfections.) But the heart of the matter continues to be the issue that Friedman writes about in today's paper. I would add to his words: "Rise up. Protest. Take to the streets — not against something, but for something. Tell the world no longer what you want to destroy, but what you want to create." I would advise Muslim leaders with the principle by which I have always tried to live my life. Whenever there are problems to be addressed and repaired it cannot only be about what others are doing wrong. It must first be about what I am doing wrong. I have always believed that repair begins with oneself. Anger is only useful when it is directed inward. To read Friedman's entire column follow this link. To read a somewhat related article about President Obama's handling of foreign policy, read Leon Wieseltier's most recent piece in The New Republic. In Wieseltier's, and my, view we should have more actively supported those in the Middle East (in particular Iran) who did indeed take to the streets, attempting to create something positive. How we help to nurture a more positive narrative continues to be the question of the day.