A Muslim Rises to the Existential Occasion, Protecting a Jew from Some “Christians”

A little reminder about making hasty generalizations about people:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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29 Responses to A Muslim Rises to the Existential Occasion, Protecting a Jew from Some “Christians”

  1. Cody Deitz says:

    While it saddens me seeing such blatant anti-semetism, it’s warming seeing someone commit a selfless act in helping out the poor guy. There’s too much “us” and “them.” When are we going to realize that it’s just “us?”

  2. andrewclunn says:

    Yet another reason why this is hate propaganda:

    • santitafarella says:

      Is this an Onion parody of a holiday movie? I’ve never heard of it.

      And I’m afraid your comment lost me. Are you saying this is a serious film release and it has a liberal twist at the end that annoys you? If I understand the trailer, Christians decide the ACLU atheist guy is being treated in an unloving fashion and, in the end, some sort of reconciliation takes place where everybody respects one another just a little bit more as human beings.

      What’s bad about this?

      Is this your idea of a better ending: the crucifixion of Alec Baldwin upside down?

      —Santi

      • andrewclunn says:

        Umm, no. This is a real film distributed by a Christian film company and based on a Christian rock song. In it a loving father is preparing for Christmas when his old rival, a non-believer, moves back into town and starts trying to remove all religious expressions and symbolism around the town with things like “Happy Holidays.” he at one point goes into a rant expressing how his motivation for doing so is to stick it to all the stupid Christians.

        The video you linked to in this post showed that the attack started because the Jewish man said, “Happy Hanukkah.” I was attempting to show how the old “war on Christmas” line has taken a much more aggressive tone and how such hateful gut reactions are actually being encouraged by some modern Christian propaganda (such as the film I linked to).

      • santitafarella says:

        Andrew:

        Oh, now I get it. But there does appear, in the trailer, to be a twist at the end that might suggest that something non-Bill O’Reilly-ish happens at the end. Or maybe the reason that the ACLU atheist guy shares Christmas with the Christian family at the end of the film is because he converted. That would definitely make the movie a dud (to my mind)—it makes the expression of love too easy.

        If, however, he stays an atheist and people try to bridge their understandings with one another without hatred, well, that does sound like an interesting premise for a movie (at least to me). Can people hold to their views (religious and nonreligious) and still come to some shared embrace of one another’s humanity and dignity via love? Or does somebody have to lose or give up or convert?

        I would like to see this movie to discover if the director navigated this murky territory or just did something easy.

        —Santi

      • andrewclunn says:

        You raise a good point. It appears (to me) to be fairly straight up anti-anyone-who-isn’t-christian propaganda to me. Though it is possible that this is merely the set up, showing a dramatized conflict. Of course there will be resolution, the question then is what? Is it condescending Christian forgiveness? Is it an open mutual understanding? Is it a hateful ending with the ‘evil’ atheist getting his comeuppance? Hmmm, now I am intrigued to see exactly what kind of movie this turns out to be…

  3. andrewclunn says:

    Not be be too off topic (sorry about that with my other posts) but a story like this is very important in reminding not to take the anti-Muslim stance (that I get from both the left-leaning Atheists and the right leaning Christians that tend to make up my social circle).

  4. concerned christian says:

    Santi:
    To maintain an intelligent conversation please use more logic and look for patterns not anecdotes. How many cases like this one where a Muslim came to defend a Jew, compared with how many cases where Muslims beat up Jews. Are you looking very hard to compare the lowest of Christian thugs with the best of Muslim Characters to make a meaningless point?

    • andrewclunn says:

      Umm concerned christian, sometimes I’m on your side, but here I think you’re way off. Santi posted very clearly that this was a reminder not to make “hasty generalizations about people.” So his point is simply that hey, here’s a Muslim that stepped in to help a Jew fro Christian religiously motivated violence. He is at once recognizing that this runs contrary to stereotypes and that it’s a sign that such simplifications do not always hold true.

      Your insistence that he’s trying to somehow reverse the stereotype is grasping at straws. There was one lien followed by a video. And the video dealt with a very specific example. You want to call it an anecdote? Fine. But to say, “Are you looking very hard to compare the lowest of Christian thugs with the best of Muslim Characters to make a meaningless point?” Come on, if you’re going to see conspiracy level propaganda whenever something doesn’t fit your predefined vision of how the world works, then your position doesn’t really ring of credibility.

  5. concerned christian says:

    Andrew:
    I definitely know many good Muslims and I will always ask that we treat everyone with love and respect. I am from the Middle East and I don’t look much different from my Muslim friends. So stereotyping Muslims will hurt me more. What I reject is the undertone of stories like this one, contrasting the Thuggish behavior of people who obviously are not following their Christian faith, with the decent behavior of a brave Muslim. The MSM have been doing that for a long time, this week ABC was running this line of Propaganda and today 20/20 will finish with what most likely be another whitewashing effort. What is needed is a serious evaluation of Islam as it’s practiced where Muslims are the majority. Islam as it’s preached by the majority of the Imams even here in the States, by Muslim brotherhood, and radical preachers. For Western civilization to survive, we need to identify who are our friends and who are our enemies.

    • andrewclunn says:

      3 things:

      1) If one is trying to make an evaluation of Muslims and Islam, would events like this not be part of that. If this is a rare instance, it is still an instance, and there was no outside context within this video. You are imagining how others with an agenda might try to extrapolate from this. Santi has not done that, therefore any frustration about ‘undertones’ is misplaced here.

      2) The best way to counter one argument or piece of evidence that is credible (this one is) is with a counter argument or piece of evidence. Posting a different video like say this one:

      would be better than simply nakedly accusing Santi of bias.

      3) I reject this idea of a western ‘we’. I am against collectivism in nearly all forms, and seeing what European society is and what American society is becoming, I think i might chose instead to defend Korean, Australian and Japanese societies (only one of which classifies as ‘western’).

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      It’s your last sentence above that strikes me as the fallacious move: the notion that Islam qua Islam poses a serious threat to Western civilization. It doesn’t. Unlike communism in, say, the 1930s, it has zero intellectual support from university professors (as either theory or practice). And it represents no cultural temptation for those living in free countries (just about the only people who seem to want to be Muslims are those who are born into the religion and/or are from already existing Muslim countries). As economic, religious, or political theory, Islam belongs to the pre-Enlightenment. It is Islam, not the West, that is in crisis. Terrorism is a symptom of its desperation and crisis of identity, not a sign of Western weakness.

      Islam, to the extent that it poses a threat to us, does so only if we sacrifice our own values—that is, our Jeffersonian constitution—in the name of protecting ourselves from the “alien other.”

      And the only other way that Islam poses a threat is in the nuclear gesture—if a fundamentalist Islamic “Republic” or terrorist group uses a nuclear weapon on a city (or releases a modified microbe on earth that wipes out large numbers).

      The point is that these nuclear and biological terrorism threats are manageable threats, and we are putting lots of resources into preventing them (and reducing their impact should they happen).

      Islam is in the process of evolution, and the race is between its liberalization over the next century and its fundamentalist reactionaries. And the distinctions have to be maintained to think clearly about the real dangers, in my view.

      The conservative politics surrounding Islam is a symptom of anxiety, and yet another unfortunate failure of intellect and love. We don’t need a “civilizational war” to evolve Islam, and beating the drums for conflict does not help and won’t fundamentally change the underlying dynamics (which have to be dealt with rationally, and with dialogue and love toward those who are not violent).

      Please recall that only 50 years ago one could walk all around Muslim Cairo and see no burkas or even hijabs. What was contingent then can be contingent now.

      —Santi

  6. concerned christian says:

    Andrew:
    I am mainly responding to this sentence
    “would be better than simply nakedly accusing Santi of bias”
    I am sorry if I left an impression that I am accusing Santi of bias. From my many discussions with Santi, I believe he is acting like a good professor who open subjects for discussions and after making his point let every one speaks his mind. I think I know where he stand on some issues, but I also know that he tries to see the other side and I appreciate that. He is definitely an Angel compared with some in Academia and many in MSM who have already made up their minds and just shoving their beliefs down your throat. Probably it helps, in social and political discussions, to be an agnostic. I, on the other hand, gradually over many years, have joined the rational “Islamophobia Cult” and I have many reasons to justify my position.

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      And I would add that your position is not an irrational one, or an indefensible one. It is simply one that I don’t (yet) share. I could evolve in that direction the more I think about it, but I doubt it. Personality-wise, I’m very much like Robert Wright (the author of “The Evolution of God”), and he’s looked at the question of Islam very closely and has tended to see light at the end of the tunnel, and has castigated the conservative position. I suspect that, as I probe the subject further, I’m likely to continue to land in that direction (for personality reasons, if nothing else). But I never assume that I can’t change my mind the more I think about things. That’s the adventure of existence.

      —Santi

  7. concerned christian says:

    Santi:
    In addition to Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, I should mention the Muslim reformer, Dr. Farag Fouda, who was assassinated by Radical Muslims. I hope the West listen carefully to what this hero had to say because he paid the ultimate price for challenging the backward mentality ruling the Muslim world today.
    http://arabicforread.blogspot.com/2010/03/farag-fouda.html
    http://www.cihrs.org/English/NewsSystem/Articles/120.aspx
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farag_Foda

    • santitafarella says:

      Foda looks interesting, but how come I can’t find Foda’s books at Amazon? Have they never been translated into English—or are they just a hot potato that Amazon has decided not to carry?

      Any theories about this?

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Unfortunately, it appears that his books were not translated into English.
        I am waiting to hear what you think about Dr. El Saadawi, BTW she is an agnostic, and it is a miracle that she survived so far, in spite of all her run ins with political and religious leaders. Here are two of her conversations, one in English and the other with English subtitles.

      • santitafarella says:

        Based on the video, I like the good doctor. I’m waiting for her book.

        —Santi

  8. concerned christian says:

    Santi
    Just to bring back an old subject, what do you make of this interview on CNN.

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      He sounds like your typical violent fundamentalist; that is, full of shit and leaking with a sincerity that is both passive and aggressive at the same time (as well as patronizing). And I don’t believe him when he says that all (or even most) Muslims are duplicitous. It’s patently false.

      As for the old topic, I’m still waiting on my Muslim friend and coworker Joseph to do something with the video interview I did with the imam. Joseph said it all came out extremely well, but he works with lots and lots of footage, and he’s having a problem locating it amidst all the other filming he’s done over the past month. The imam contacted him, wondering what happened as well. But it’s probably just a matter of time (assuming he didn’t accidently erase over the footage).

      If the footage did get lost, I’m sure we’ll redo it. It’s a live topic for me.

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        I trust you Santi, and I hope that we will see these footage soon. I agree that Muslims, like every other group, represent various attitudes and characters. The hope is that more Muslims will recognize the danger that radical Islam presents and fight it. BTW, remember I mentioned that Sufism, which is always presented as one of the best manifestation of Islam, is considered a heretical sect by many radical Muslims. Sadly Radicals in Pakistan have recently been targeting Sufi’s holy sites.
        http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101025/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_13

      • santitafarella says:

        Concerned:

        The Sufi issue is why we must be cautious about making generalizations about Muslims. Every academic Muslim in the West writing in English, for example, seems to praise Sufism and affirm it as an integral part of the Muslim tradition. It informs intellectual Muslims’ theory and practice, and it is part of what the future of Islam is likely to evolve toward. On the other hand, there are other Muslims who, as you say, oppose Sufism.

        So much of what is violent and fanatical in Islam (as in other religions) is born of ignorance and/or people with half-baked educations. My hope for Islam (and the world generally) is that as people become wealthier and better educated, stupidies will become less frequent (though probably never eliminated completely). I think that the broad demographic trends of humanity are good and militate against radicalism later in the 21st century. For example, most humans are moving into urban environments—and when you live in cities you have to get on with diverse people and build coalitions. You also have to be pragmatic to trade and navigate in the economy. And urban environments lead to interconnections (via the Internet, etc) with others living in urban areas.

        —Santi

  9. concerned christian says:

    Santi
    I checked on CAIR website, no condemnation of the massacre in the Church in Iraq nor of the Islamic terrorist actions coming from Yemen, but they are still claiming that they share the same human right values of the West, what a bunch of two faced liars.
    http://www.cair.com/

  10. concerned christian says:

    Sorry it’s a little long and quite upsetting but this is an eyewitness report from the massacre in the church in Iraq last week. What’s CAIR position on this and many other crimes committed by their Muslim brothers. This is a transcript of an Arabic interview.
    http://freecopts.net/arabic/2009-08-23-00-20-14/2009-08-23-00-27-20/6957-2010-11-06-16-04-46

    “I am Mirna Zuhair. My brother is a martyr. My sister is Shahad. I was there in the church. We heard gun shots. We were sitting by the door. There was a door to the side (of the Church) and we were sitting there. We saw smoke coming from under the door so we moved away. Uday took his phone and called Dad. He said, “Dad, help us. There are armed men here” Everyone lay on the floor. We lay on the floor too. Uday lay on the floor talking to dad and saying, “Dad, hurry. Help us.” The priest got up to close the door and they shot him (the priest) in the head. They shot him in the head. He said to them “calm down” and they shot him. They shot Father Thair and Father Poutros in the head. Father Wissam was saying, “calm down” and they shot him immediately. We hid under the chairs. My head was on top of Uday’s. I looked up and I saw someone wearing a pink shirt holding a weapon. He was holding a weapon and he killed the Deacon and Uday was slamming his phone on the floor saying, “What shall we do? They killed the Deacon.” I said to Uday, “They’re going to kill us” and he said, “No, no, no. Don’t worry. No they won’t kill us. They’ll just steal the money (from the donation box) and leave.”
    Young men/boys were sitting to the side and they shot one of them in the head. They said, “Kill them all. Don’t leave any boys.” We were hiding Uday amongst us and all we could hear was “Kill the boys” and they shot Uday in the arm. Uday was cradling his son and saying, “Don’t be afraid my darling.” He said, “Don’t be afraid.” They shot Uday in the arm. I called out, “Uday.” But he didn’t answer. I hid my head under the chairs. I called for Uday but he wasn’t answering. He was quiet. His son was screaming, “Enough.”He was yelling for Uday to get up. They shot a woman in her back. She fell on top of Uday and Adam (Uday’s son). She fell on Adam. I don’t know how but I pushed her off because Adam was suffocating. I pushed her under the chairs. I was trying to quieten her down because we could hear them saying, “If we hear anyone take a breath we’ll kill you” so I was trying to keep her quiet and she was hugging someone else (I can’t make out the name here) “Calm down.”
    4 of them sat next to us. One of them (the terrorists) sat next to our legs. It was an Iraqi who sat down. And one of them called Muhammed was on the phone. He was saying, “I’m in the Church. I’m in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation. If you don’t release our Egyptian sisters in Egypt, none of them will get out (alive).“ He was on the walkie-talkie and he was saying, “…these Kafara (non-believers)” He said these Kafara. Hand grenades were going off near us. The shell casings from the guns kept falling around me. The chandelier fell. The shrapnel from the chandelier hit me. The grenades were going off. The guards and policemen were nowhere near them. They (guards and policemen) were shooting at the roof. At the roof! And one of the guards, I don’t know who he was talking to, maybe the army, was saying, “Don’t worry. I’ve got the situation under control. I’m shooting at them (the terrorists) from my position.” Then they said they ran out of bullets but they still had hand grenades. And the army was using some sort of gas and I thought that the guards were going to kill them (the terrorists). Whenever it got quiet I thought they must have killed them. But then I heard them asking each other (the terrorists) if they were ok and if they had prayed and they said yes we’ve prayed then they said, “This statute, shoot this statue. You are non-believers. You are all going to hell. Even if we die, we are going to heaven but even if you live you will be living in hell.” Then grenades started to go off. And Adam started to cry. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t but I moved my bag away from his head so he could breathe. Then he went quiet. And the lights went off and there was gunfire and I thought they were dead. Then I could hear them telling each other to pray and they started saying, “Allah Akbar (God is great).” Then I don’t know how. I don’t know. I don’t know but that Iraqi was injured and he couldn’t move his leg. He was wearing a belt. He went to the place where the priest prays (the altar) and he blew himself up. We covered our ears. I pushed Shahad (her friend). I thought she was dead but she wasn’t dead. My phone started to ring and because it was dark, my phone was glowing and they said, “What is this light?” I don’t know how but I took my phone and hid it under my stomach. It was dark. I called Duraid. I didn’t know who to call. I called Duraid and said, “Please come and help us, Duraid.” And he said to get up and yell out [for help]. I said, “They’re going to kill us” because I thought it was the guards who had died but he said to get up so I got up and Shahad and I yelled for help. They said everyone who’s alive come out. I used my phone to look for Adam and saw he has been burnt. He was burnt. I tried to move him but I couldn’t. I tried to move him but Uday was holding onto him too tightly. I got up and we went outside and the Church was chaos and I saw soldiers everywhere and I said to them, “Where were you? Where were you? You show up after they’ve finished us off!” And they said come with us and I grabbed onto Shahad because we thought they were going to kidnap us”

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      What you are sharing about is quite disturbing. I’ll check it out.

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi
        I thought this encounter capture many of the dark currents sweeping the Muslim world today. It’s a vicious circle with basic decency and common sense are totally ignored. The West will be better served if they recognize the depth of evil they are facing, and try to confront it instead of appeasing it.

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