SOCIO-JOURNALISTIC CURIOSITY . . . Remember the novel and movie about the small Euro country that declared war on the U.S. so it could be defeated and then get lots of foreign aid? "The Mouse That Roared"? It's that way with Muslims. Muslims started war with us at least with the 9/11 sneak attack (sooner than that), and immediately become our concern. Their religion becomes a religion of peace, etc. But in other ways, we show we care, as in the 11/29/02 Sun-Times religion roundup headed "Ramadan can be rough on Muslim teens."
It's a nice folksy item about Dearborn (MI) high-school footballers who play with little or nothing in their stomachs and can't even drink water until sundown every day. It's no fun, of course: I fasted Ramadan-like once for a Saturday column back in my religion-writing days (dumb idea) to give verisimilitude to my writing about it.
It was back in the 70s, so I anticipated our present war on Muslims, you might say. Not all Muslims, of course, and surely not Abdullah Babar, 17, a senior who says, "You get tired" when you play fasting. Hey, ask the big Houston b-baller, "Dream." But wouldn't it be nice if just one Muslim spokesman just once endorsed our war on Muslim terrorists? That would be a nice-nice Muslim story I'd read and recommend.
DIG THAT TERRORIST . . . The Kalamazoo College baccalaureate speaker from Union Theological Seminary a few months back quoted the Philippines Muslim terrorist as someone we can learn from, he being a terrorist and our friends being the terrorized. Whom he picks in the World Series is what I'd like to know.
He also quoted NY Times four or five times in his 45-minute sermon. It's his newspaper of record, if not yours or mine, so why not?
But the really interesting part was what he had to say about "Nine-Eleven," as he referred to this generation's Pearl Harbor. It was exclusively about how we suffered, how our lives changed, how we found God, how we discovered ourselves to be vulnerable. Ah that favorite word of the 9-11 moralizers, religious or otherwise, as if wow! we're victims too, even us white people!
He said nothing about anger, not even about controlling it, or determination to stop the guys who did it before they do more of the same, and nothing about the overwhelming support for our Republican oil-man president for articulating that anger and determination and success so far in fighting the bad guys.
APOLOGETIC . . . Such selective commentary is typical of mainline church reps. It's guys like him -- he's Donald Shriver, Union's president 1975-96 -- at places like Union who have done so much to denude us of our self-respect and willingness to call spades spades, giving Christianity a bad name in the process.
As a speaker he worked to make us feel very bad about ourselves and our country and its being strong and powerful -- tired old mainline Protestant and increasingly mainline RC stuff. Egad, and it's supposed to be bad not to feel good about yourself! I don't get it.
Radical Islamists (and he never used THAT term, be assured) are mad at us (and he certainly showed respect for to the Old Standby, why don't they like us?) not because we are rich and prosperous and freedom-loving (we allow women to be air traffic controllers etc., and be assured he did not call attention to that difference) but because they feel humiliated. Him and the Pope on that one.
That's the apologist-for-militant-Islamism line. It's not the militant Islamism line, which is honest and forthright on their own TV stations: Kill the Jews and everyone who sides with them. Not a word from our sneaky Shriver about that part of the current equation.