Published at Oped News: http://www.opednews.com/articles/A-response-to-Sean-Hannity-by-Mike-Ghouse-American-Muslims_Anti-islam_Extremism-Extremists_Foreign-Policy-Failure-Iraq-140624-879.html#comment496854
First let me address the myth about Sean Hannity, and application of the Quranic verse “Don’t let your bias make you unjust towards the other” in this situation. Hannity is a defender of freedom and you would appreciate him, when you grasp the full meaning of freedom in its entirety.
In February 2013, Sean had called in 25 individuals for his show that included Representatives Peter King, Louis Goehmert, Ambassador John Bolton and others including me, Mike Ghouse.
In the middle of taping another segment, Sean asked me to join him on the stage, while 23 others were sitting across on the bleachers. To paraphrase him (short version), "You are the only Muslim friend I know... and today I will do something for you that you have been asking for in the last three years.... from now on I will not use the word "Muslim terrorists" and instead call it Terrorists among Muslims, would that make you happy? Hell yes! I gave him a big salute while others cheered on.
Boston Marathon bombing followed in April, CNN camera goes to Peter King, and this is what he said, "96% of Muslims are good people, and it is the 4% we have to worry... That is a 180 Degrees turnaround! The same man had called in to investigate every Muslim and every Mosque a year ago. That is reasonable change! Thank you Sean!
Muslims don’t have to love him, but should not hold any bias against him. I am glad that topic came up today, though we did not elaborate, we touched up on it and here I am, writing about it. Just wanted to add, that CAIR team was vehemently opposed to my presence on Hannity and we had some fiery words about it, and finally Ibrahim Hooper had apologized to me. I have defended the need for CAIR, just as there are Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and others have their own CAIRS defending the Civil rights of the respective groups. I will continue to do that despite their attitudes towards me. They simply do not understand the power of engagement.
Personally, it is a mission accomplished - we place the blame where it belongs; the individuals and not religion. We (Muslims) cry out loud to "see the change" and it won't happen unless we engage with people who differ with us. Mother Teresa had once said, if you want to make peace, go talk with your enemies, indeed Mother, you are right! Gandhi had said, if you want a change, be a part of it. Both are my mentors.
Listen to Hannity carefully, he is not against Islam or Muslims, but against the radicals among us, which all of us Muslims (minus radicals) are against but don’t speak up in strong terms on a national or international microphone.
I would venture to say that, even the stance taken by Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller and others is not against Muslims, though their language is not palatable, they are activists and are outraged by lack of demonstrations by Muslims against the radicals, even though they have their own agenda. Unless I find information otherwise, I stand with my take.
The radicals among us are frightening not only to Muslims but to everyone else. I would go on to say that even Jamie Glazov’s bias against Islam is not deep rooted, but stems from reading the wrong translations of Quran, and shamefully, beefed by the false assertions of radical Muslim scholars in the past which do not contribute to peaceful societies. As Muslims we have to fix the wrongs of Sharia Law and understand the Genesis of Sharia law to rebuild cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other.
I would rather have many Hannity's in the world who keep every one on their toes than have sycophants who let the governments and groups become complacent and make mistakes to the detriment of the very public they serve.
This will be my 90th show with Hannity over a period of four years. Please remember, I am from Texas, and slow in responding to the fast pace of Hannity, but yet, I have always made a few points, and with humility I acknowledge that I was a disaster a few times and Hannity had beat me up, partly due to technical difficulties in the studios and partly my slowness. I will do well face to face with Hannity than via Satellite, where I don't see any one of them but looking into the camera with no one to see, and when I don't see them, I don't get the cue.
I am getting a lot of hate mail since yesterday, and several of them have attacked me on Twitter and their own sites. "I hate this @MikeGhouse ....... @.... ! He spikes my blood pressure! Makes me clean and oil my Rifle! It is a Norinco SKS." I feel sorry for them for not having the stomach for a different point of view.
Some others have jumped about my support (or lack of denouncement) of ISNA, as if that is the only problem they have, in which case it is not bad. Their charge is based on accusations of co-conspirators, which is not true, as it has been cleared by the courts. ISNA is a good clean organization. However, I do have a gripe with ISNA's priorities. Twice, I have submitted proposals to give presentations in their annual conference - "How to become a Mayor", "how to be participants and contributors towards the well being of America", that ultimately benefits all of us, and "what does it take for us to change", but it gets run down by their bureaucracy. I understand their priorities are different, but I would place my priority on what Prophet Muhammad taught, the very foundation of Islam; to be the Amins (the Jews, Christians, Pagan and other neighbors called him "Amin" for his truthfulness, kindness, caring and justness) of the society where he built relations with every one around him, that is how we build cohesive societies that function effectively, indeed that is the purpose of religion, all religions. Religion should not be barrier to be friends with neighbors. God emphasizes in the Quran (at least 18 verses) with a tag line - the best among you is the one who cares for my creation, and I know who cared for his neighbors.
I will however present a national proposal, hopefully in Huffington Post before Ramadan about what we can do, or if Sean wants to do it on his show, I will present the proposal. I hope they listen, if not, we have to get the grass root movement to pick it up the steam and go on with or without the support of National Muslim organizations. We have to be engaged, and we have to become major contributors towards the safety, security and prosperity of America, we have to do more than our share to be equals.
And now about the sparks
In a live TV show, you don’t get a second chance to say a few words you really wanted to say, and take back a few words you did not want them in. All of us could have done better, but the idea is to express different points of view, and it is up to the public to choose what they will do with the information.
Here are a few phrases, rather paraphrases that got everyone going. “She (Brigitte Gabrielle) is as dangerous as the extremist”, “you (Jamie Glazov) are disgusting” and “You (inference) are an Islamist” and several more….
Tamara Holder said Brigitte Gabrielle is as dangerous as the extremists. I can fully understand her take, and I have said a very similar thing to Brigitte a few months ago, “Your ‘statements’ are dangerous and are a come-on to those terrorist” while our men and women are serving in the conflict zones we should not be goading them. It negates the safety efforts of our administration.
It resonates with what I have been writing frequently, “For every Muslim ass, there is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu or a Buddhist ass, just as those men at ISIS and Al-Qaida will declare Jihad against us Americans; we have some among us who would want to do the same. It is a serious issue, but to hype it up to the Nth degree does not bode well for the safety of fellow Americans. I stand opposed to any pre-emptive strikes or going to war.
Jamie Glazov does not realize that hate is the mother of violence. He attacked Islam instead of the radicals and that got me going. Tamara called him disgusting and I would reiterate that his statements were disgusting. What do I wish?
I would wish that he can take out his anti-Islam bias, as it creates animosities, unfortunately if he is joined by others, we Americans sound like hateful people, and we are not. Do his statements contribute towards building bridges? Hell no!
Blaming the religion is dumb
I want to assert a thought that very few on the right have had a chance to learn. Religions and civil societies evolved to build cohesive societies where all the members of the society can function effectively and without fear of each other. Whether it is Zoroaster, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, Nanak or any of the peace makers, their messages was same, most people get that right, and a few don't.
Justice is the key component of a society. When an individual commits a crime or violates others' rights, both the civil and religious societies have prescribed punishment for him, with a hope that the punishment will act as a deterrent to others. Furthermore, you don't punish the man's parents, siblings, spouse and kids, nor do you punish the man's clergy, Mayor of the town, the people of the town, his nation, his religion or people who follow his religion.
Some men do not understand a thing about religion, they may have studied the same wrong thing over and over again, and that does not make them an expert, if their language generates fear and hate for the other.
The reason you blame and punish the individual is to restore trust, harmony and justice. You don't blame the religion, and don't buy the alibis of the criminals. The guy may say Allahu Akbar and kill someone, but that does not mean you have to buy that as an act of religion. Glazov hangs on to the statements made by some radical Muslims scholars from the past ignoring what Quran says.
Blaming Islam does no good. You cannot beat, kill, hang, slaughter, shoot or bury religion - it amounts to barking at the wrong tree, it does not produce any result. But punishing the bad guys restores justice and trust in the society, after all religion in an intangible thing and cannot do a thing but provide guidance.
Can you call Pamela Geller a murderer, and Bill Blasio a rapist? Because New Yorkers murdered over 1500 people, and raped over 3000 women last year? It would be dumb isn't it? Blaming Islam or Muslims for the acts of the few is equally dumb.
Caliphate is another conspiracy theory. First of all, no two Muslims agree on anything. No doubt Islam is one, but its understanding is as different as Christ in different denominations. There never will be a Caliphate, it is an useless dream of few on the Muslims side and conspiracy of a few on part of non-Muslims. The Saudi version of Islam, the brotherhood, Taliban and other versions have zero tolerance for each other and the average Muslim who minds his own life taking care of his family and living his own life. The division within Sunni is steep, let alone the animosity between Sunnis and Shias. The Caliphate is the imaginary product of conspirators.
What we all need to do is talk with each other, lay things out as bluntly as we can and then examine how we can build cohesive societies, where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. We need to highlight the dimension of pluralism, and we want the world to respect us for our justice, honesty and fairness.
God bless America!
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.