(First published May, 2007)
I recently wrote a letter to a friend in the United States who had previously complained to me about “Muslim Leaders” and fanatics. This was because there was a murder of three people who worked in a Christian publishing house in the east of Turkey. As a result of the comments of my friend and others I get from the USA, I have to conclude that far too many US residents are very ill-informed about events outside the borders of their country. I continue my letter below…
I agree that the issue is not religion, but individual interpretations of it. Fanatics forever have been killing one another over their specific “brand” of religion. This is especially true of the Bush fundamentalists who support the Zionists in Israel. However, I do believe, in spite of this rise in neo-conservative Christian Fundamentalism, that the real issue is the geopolitics of American hegemony and its muscle flexing in the areas of the Middle East where Muslim fanaticism can easily be encouraged to rear its ugly head.
My friend wrote: “You live in a country that the Muslim religion is the majority. Where are the leaders of the religion and why haven’t they stepped up?”
I replied that, to the best of my knowledge, every responsible Muslim leader or Muslim leaning politician in Turkey, condemned the murders of the Christian booksellers in the east. There were also outpourings of grief through demonstrations by Turkish Muslim people and more condemnation by journalists in the Turkish press. The prime minister and president both condemned the murders. It seems the sensationalist press of the US did not emphasize that point well or else you would not have asked the question.
Did the US press write about the 50,000 plus Muslims, Christians, Armenians and anyone else concerned with human rights who spontaneously turned out to mourn Hrant Dink? Hrant Dink was an Armenian Christian who was executed by a stupid kid brainwashed by nationalist (not Muslim) fanatics.
Where is the US press when it comes to telling Christians that most Turkish people could care less what visitors believe as long as they come to Turkey for a holiday to have a good time or to live permanently and are reasonably polite? Of course, all we hear about is the sensationalist shit. In 1997, while living in the United States, I was about to move from Kansas City to Miami, people warned me that it was dangerous because of the sensationalist murders in the news. In over three years living in Miami, I never heard a shot fired in anger and I occasionally walked some mean streets there. The only violence I saw was the violence of poverty bordering next to unspeakable wealth.
The gutless US press backed down when a photographer published “sensationalist” photographs on a website of plane loads of US military flag-draped coffins coming back from Iraq. The military vilified that person and the “mainstream press” (bought and paid for by advertisers) backed down from publishing these images, yet this same “mainstream press” will play up the murders of Christians in Turkey as if that is the fate of all Christians who visit here. When the military blocks YouTube to members of the armed forces, where are the hallowed supporters of the US Constitution who have failed to notice the decline in real Freedom of Speech or Expression?
After the planes destroyed the twin towers and flew into the Pentagon, did the other countries of the world issue travel advisories against all non-essential travel to the US? Of course not. However, when the British Consulate, two synagogues and a HSBC bank were bombed in Istanbul, the US government immediately issued a warning against traveling anywhere in Turkey. Most, if not all of the perpetrators of the Turkish bombing have been caught, they were not targeting US citizens.
The US press is no longer “free” if it ever has been, it is expensive and it is bought and paid for by some of the largest advertisers in the US.
Just one of many examples which tells us that US citizens are NOT getting the full story nor the truth is this article: The Real Newsweek Scandal (Word document). Please read it carefully and then tell me if you think the US press is free and really gives you the news.
“This uniquely well-argued article (called “Dream On America“) — with additional reporting from locales around the world — never made it into Newsweek’s U.S. edition.
NOTE: In November 2010, Newsweek merged with the news and opinion website The Daily Beast, forming the Newsweek Daily Beast Company…On October 18, 2012, Brown announced that Newsweek would cease print publication – at least in the U.S. – with the December 31, 2012, issue and transition to an all-digital format, to be called Newsweek Global.
There is no such thing as a Pope in Islam. No one speaks for all of Islam in the way the Pope does to Catholics. Beyond that, Muslims are as diverse and fractured as are Christians. Just as Protestants broke into many factions, the same is true of Islam. I do not know who the “Muslims at ***” are nor do I know what is their “brand” of Islam. Are they Sunni, Shiite, Alevi, Yazidi (Yezidi) or what? There are others: Sufi, Baha’ism, USA Black Muslims, Kharijitis, Wahhabi, Ismailis, Ismaili Druze… Who are their “leaders” and if these “leaders” do not question the so-called martyrdom of young Muslims, brainwashed by terrorists, then the Muslims at *** should demand why not and question their so-called “leadership”.
I paraphrase your comments: “You live in a country that the Christian religion is the majority. Where are the leaders of the religion and why haven’t they stepped up?” “Where are the strong Christian leaders that should be quoting the Christian teachings” and end the American terrorism, this illegal and totally immoral war in Iraq? The Bible says “Do not kill.” Christ allegedly said, “turn the other cheek” and “love one another.” If a “Christian” can believe that, how can it continue to be so vengeful and selfish?
I do not support violence of ANY kind, state sanctioned (military, CIA, FBI, etc), religious or personal. I believe that non-violence is the only way that humans will ever learn to live in harmony, unfortunately I do not believe this will ever happen. Gandhi proved it could create a revolution and Martin Luther King tried to do the same in the United States before violence took him out. Nowhere is violence the answer.
I believe in no religion, I only believe that non-violence is the answer, I do not believe that any kind of killing, defensive or otherwise, is a responsible way for any person or any government to act. The United States is one of the most violent countries in the world, both domestically and in its foreign policy, and the US press doesn’t seem to be asking why. Murder is not against the law in any country, it is just that governments have the monopoly on murder through the military and capital punishment, so when the state sanctions murder, what do you expect from its citizens?
The US giant has been stepping on the toes of the world for a very long time and when one steps on the tail of a cat, they should not be surprised if it turns around and bites them on the foot. Did you read any of the relatively few books I have recommended over the last few years while I have been writing about my opposition to your country’s terrorism in Iraq?
The issue, as you say, is not religion, except for the continuing neo-conservative Fundamentalism driving the White House oval office. (Obama the Bomber is no better than Bush at perpetrating war crimes and killing “suspected” terrorists.) The real issue has always been the geopolitics of the hegemony of the United States and its muscle flexing in the areas of the Middle East where Muslim fanaticism can easily rear its ugly head. Neo-conservative Fundamentalists like Dubya or Wolfowit(less) or Obama the Bomber believe that the only good Muslim is a dead one and they have initiated a continuing and certainly unholy “jihad” against Islam.
Its symbolism cannot be lost on any thinking person, it is certainly not lost on many, many Muslims. The United States, since the end of WWII, through its horrible foreign policies in the region, has stepped on the tail of the cat and simply cannot understand why the cat has taken a bite out of the foot.
Stephen Kinzer, has written several books about the adventurism of the United States in foreign affairs, if you were to acquaint yourself with Kinzer’s research, you also might come to the conclusion that those behind 9/11 targeted the US and exploited already existing and deeply felt, political, emotional and religious feelings and animosity toward the United States. In the “War on Terror,” proclaimed by the United States, 9/11 could be called “blowback” and possibly a legitimate “target” of such a war, but it seems that only a few people in the US are looking at the real reasons behind such attacks on their country.
Books I recommend by Stephen Kinzer: “Crescent and Star” (about Turkey), “All the Shah’s Men” (about the CIA coup in Iran leading directly to 9/11), or “Overthrow” (about ALL the “regime changes” affected by the US government since Hawaii in 1893).