Why Sherry Marquez, as a Christian, should treat Muslims in Lancaster, Ca. as her friends

Below is an excerpt from an 1842 speech made by Abraham Lincoln to the Washington Temperance Society. It’s why I think that Lancaster city councilwoman, Sherry Marquez, should make a real effort to befriend the Muslim members of her community, and not alienate them, as she did here:

When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that a “drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” So with men.

If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great high road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause really be a just one.

On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart; and tho’ your cause be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel, and sharper than steel can be made, and tho’ you throw it with more than Herculean force and precision, you shall no more be able to pierce him, than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.

Such is man, and so must he be understood by those who would lead him, even to his own best interest . . .

In short, all you need is reason. And love.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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7 Responses to Why Sherry Marquez, as a Christian, should treat Muslims in Lancaster, Ca. as her friends

  1. concerned christian says:

    I find it interesting that the same person, who gave us this great advice about how to win our opponents over to our side, was ultimately forced to start the bloodiest war in American history. But unfortunately that happens more often than we wish. In many cases our ideals are challenged by circumstances beyond our control. Many times, facing these challenges early helps to prevent having to make much harder choices later. It’s amazing that the man of peace Woodrow Wilson was the one who took America to WWI, and the humanist FDR was our leader in WWII. But in all these cases, war could have been avoided if earlier interventions and stronger measures were taken to address the festering problems before it was too late. Today, we are facing the same challenge, radical Islam is a threat to humanity, and unless we stop it now, we or our children will go through hell fighting raving lunatics who are seeking their 72 virgins in heaven. All moderates of every religion, including Islam, should come together to stop this madness that is spreading through Islamic Nations and has already crossed over to the West. Please pay close attention to what’s going in Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and many other Muslim dominated countries. Listen to what Kaddafi of Libya, the leaders of Iran and many Muslim scholars are saying because they are not seeking any compromise with the West. They are looking forward to a confrontation that will ultimately turn the whole world into Islam. In that sense, what Sherry Marquez is saying about Islam is more accurate than the lies that CAIR is propagating.

  2. concerned christian says:

    Speaking of CAIR,the snake oil salesmen strike again, and they have all the open minded liberals in the New York Times to help them. For those who don’t know the “radical Islamophobe” Brigitte Gabriel, she came from Lebanon, a country who used to have a Christian majority until 1970. After the Muslim population explosion, they don’t believe in birth control, Christians became a minority and things changed for the worst. What happened in Lebanon will happen in Europe this Century if radical steps are not taken.

  3. santitafarella says:


    I agree with the irony (Lincoln speaking of peace became a president of war). But I think that there is a judgment call here: every nonviolent human interaction must be decided in these terms: is the person that I’m dealing with open and reasonable?

    If the answer is no, and dialogue will serve no purpose, then, obviously, you have to simply isolate or fight them. I think that Obama is going to face that choice at some point in his presidency with regard to Iran. But with regard to American Muslims living in the United States, of course they need to be befriended and extended a hand of equality and dignity. Any American Muslim who joins jihadism or actively supports them can be tracked by the FBI, and all the others are our neighbors and should be treated as such. American Muslims are the future of Islam in the world, not Afghani Taliban Muslims.

    A related question is this: Are those calling for war in the grip of a hasty generalization or a reductio ad absurdum?

    And here again, I think that this is a judgment call. Some people overgeneralize about Muslims (as Marquez does) and others drive Muslim beliefs into straw man reductio ad absurdums (all Muslims must secretly want to destroy non-Muslims because of this or that verse in the Quran).

    There is a middle way between naivete and hysteria. Obama, I think, has it right (as did Lincoln).

    Still, many aspects of contemporary Islam are more than troubling, and dangerous to the West, and we need to think clearly about them. The three in my mind are jihadist terrorism (especially nuclear terrorism), women’s oppression, and violent threats against free speech.

    With the exception of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of jihadists, which we cannot be certain about, all of these things are completely managable. We can (and will) keep Muslim fundamentalist practice with regard to women and censorship out of Western culture, and we can contain fundamentalist hotspots for Islamic fundamentalism (Afghanistan etc.).

    Intellectually, fundamentalist Islam is completely bankrupt. Outside the Islamic world, it is not a compelling ideology for any but a very few human beings. And since it has little power of persuasion, it only has violence, and we can contain violence (again, I’m excepting nuclear terrorism, the Joker in history’s deck and an enormous tragedy if it should ever occur).

    The West’s greatest weakness is its vulnerability to overreaction on the one hand (think Marquez) and naivete on the other (think of those, such as in Ireland, instituting blasphemy laws to protect religious sensibilities from offense). The worry is not that fundamentalist Islam will ever win over the West by compelling arguments. It possesses none.


  4. concerned christian says:

    Great, we are in agreement on many important issues, but I want to add one more point. A very troubling aspect of Islam is the way they treat non-Muslims. The Quran gives Muslims a mixed message, in some verses it is very tolerant, in other verses which came later when Mohammed defeated his enemies, it prohibits Muslims from having nonbelievers as friends and orders Muslims to fight non-believers until they surrender to Muslim authority. While many Muslims used to follow the good side of Islam, gradually they started to become more intolerant of other religions. This came due to the Wahhabi’s teachings backed by Saudi Arabia’s oil money, and the Muslim brotherhood movement that started in Egypt in 1928. This is a serious threat to America, because many of the Mosques here are funded by Saudi’s money. Also many Muslim organizations and residents in America including some of CAIR founders, and Obama’s envoy to the Islamic conference, Rashad Hussain, have ties with the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

  5. santitafarella says:


    You said this: “The Quran gives Muslims a mixed message, in some verses it is very tolerant, in other verses which came later when Mohammed defeated his enemies, it prohibits Muslims from having nonbelievers as friends . . .”

    Then you proceeded to offer a historical narrative of Muslim behavior. You have, in other words, exemplified my point about caution with regard to treating Islam in essentialist (as opposed to contingent) terms. If Islam can latch its chariot to violence under certain historical circumstances, it follows that it can latch its chariot to peace in other historical circumstances. An American Muslim, living within the historical contingencies of contemporary Los Angeles County, will behave and think very differently about Islam as compared with a Muslim living in the mountains of Afghanistan. What we need to do is to load the dice of contingent history, insofar as we can, in the direction that makes peaceful and benign forms of religious expression more likely. My argument is that, with regard to American Muslims, the suspicion towards them must be brought way down: Lincoln, not Marquez.


  6. concerned christian says:

    I think what we need today is to be pragmatic and not allow our dogma, based on either religious or humanistic beliefs to blind our eyes. We need to treat good Muslims the same way we want them to treat us, but at the same time we need to pay attention to what are going on in the name of Islam worldwide and deal with every act decisively without any prejudice based on our dogmas or beliefs. In facing the threat of radical Islam, we need to overcome the great divide between the dogmatic left, who believes that all cultures are equivalent, and the dogmatic right who, in America, believes in the superiority of the Judeo-Christian traditions and Western civilization. This is crucial for the survival of Western civilization, because if you look back into history, you will find that the three major thrusts of Islamic expansion came while the West was busy in dogmatic wars. Islam took over most of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire while Christians were busy arguing about the Divine and Human Nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. Constantinople fell to the Muslims while it was busy arguing with Rome over whether The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father or from the Father and the Son. And today, Islam is expanding in the West, especially Europe, while liberals and conservatives are busy demonizing each other and fighting over evolution, marriage rights for homosexuals, abortion rights, and many other issues that while important they can be resolved by reaching reasonable compromises, so we can unite in facing the real threats that can drag us all back to the Middle Ages.

  7. It would be stupid to treat people who are taught in the “holy” places hate for all not Mosqued.

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