Of Hate, And Love

The cycle has repeated itself with frightening regularity over the last few years. Still, I can’t get used to it. It starts with the bombs, with the horrible images of death and destruction, with the unendurable suffering of the survivors. The leaders quickly mount an appropriately stern response, promising help to the needy, vowing that they will not give in, pledging awesome retaliation. The pundits start blabbering about the clash of cultures and about how they hate us, how they love death while we love life. And soon enough, someone accuses Muslims of being silent in the face of terror.

Of all the things I hear every time the cycle starts, this is the one that puzzles me the most. It is repeated and reinforced until it is accepted as fact, even by people who should know better. Last Thursday, the attacks on London were condemned by Morocco, Iran, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon, to name a few. Within the city of London itself, leaders of Muslim organizations condemned the attacks.

And yet, what do we see when we open the paper on July 8th? Thomas Friedman’s column If It’s a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the ‘It’ here is terrorism, as though terrorism was a uniquely Muslim problem, not one that affects the entire world, as though the victims were exclusively non-Muslim. It is precisely this kind of thing that makes me think that whatever war is being waged on terror is being lost. How can anyone win when we take for granted the notion of us vs. them?

I have been thinking about hate a lot lately. When I went over to the conservative blog littlegreenfootballs, I saw comments like this:

#12 Carl in Jerusalem 7/7/2005 06:13AM PDT
IMHO, they should go house to house interrogating every Muslim about what they know and when they knew it. And then kick every last one of them who is there illegally out of the country. And then decide if any of the rest of them deserve to stay.

Or like this:

#25 American Infidel 7/7/2005 06:18AM PDT
Moslems should be told to begin packing their bags and return to the shitholes whence they came…

Or like this:

#49 kmclay 7/7/2005 06:38AM PDT
Internment camps are sounding better and better to me…
let’s protect all the poor widdle muslims from a nasty “backlash”.

I imagine these people coming into my house, asking to see my papers, wanting to ship me off to some camp. What do they even know about me? And then I realize, they know nothing. That is why they hate. Hate is easy because it’s so unspecific. Even when people deny hate, they deny it in general terms ‘I don’t hate Muslims’ (a statement usually followed by a ‘but.’)

But love is hard. It takes specifics. It takes getting to know a person.


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