Last week, Lieutenant General William Boykin, the officer leading the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein told evangelical Christian audiences that God was on the side of America’s war on terrorism and said that Muslims worship an "idol". And that the Muslims’ god is not a real god. For one thing, as a Muslim I know I don’t worship an idol, nor do I think that God all of a sudden has taken sides in killing and slaughter done in his name. Only people with serious delusions and all kinds of mental problems think that God is a cheerleader for killing and is a bloodthirsty God.
I would have to say that such blatant racism and ignorance should not have a place in the US Armed Forces or be a part of US official policy. Boykin needs to resign his position in order to first maintain the integrity of the Armed Forces, second to send a signal that racism and bigotry is not going be tolerated in this country, and third to show that the US war on terrorism is not a war against a religion, but rather against extremist terrorists regardless of their religion.
But I was not too surprised to hear those ugly and racist comments. After all, there is an undercurrent of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments fomented by right-wing Christian evangelical groups in this country, which unfortunately seeps through the administration’s official thinking and decisions.
Imagine if the general said the same words about any other religion in this county. Of course, hell would have broken loose and the general would not have lasted until the end of the day in his position. But sadly, to be an anti- Muslim in this country is tolerated, and often times encouraged by extremist propaganda all over the place. What does that say about our country? Are we a nation where hatred of religious and ethnic groups has evolved to become a common currency?
In some quarters, yes, and I would not have been too shocked if those comments came from the likes of Pat Robertson, who has just recently said that the US State Department should be "nuked". But to hear these racist comments from an army general, represents a dangerous trend in the US Armed Forces — long considered a less segregated institution.
General Boykin’s comments have already been publicised around the Arab and Muslim world, and would definitely increase the perception that the United States today is a country bent on waging wars against Islam. This type of perception, however, would not be very helpful to America’s image around the world, especially if Muslims start realising that the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly Syria and Iran are nothing but wars against Muslims and their religion. This would doom any US policy in the Middle East or in the Muslim world.
Moreover, the general’s remarks would give Bin Laden’s argument — that the United State is waging a war against Islam, Arabs and oil under the guise of fighting terrorism — an air of credibility. Right-wing Christians groups, too, would see the general’s comments as a vindication of their anti-Muslim hatred campaign and a step in the right direction toward an eventual Muslim- Christian war in the Middle East. A crazy idea as it sounds, but that’s an eventuality crazed extremists on both side are rooting for.
Level-headed Americans of all colours and religions need to make a courageous stand against all forms of racism and extremism, and to make America a better country.