Monday, June 20, 2016

CB Hanif: Beyond the Cycle of Terror


Good Morning everyone.

This is home for me, and it is always good to be home. But I am particularly honored and thankful to be asked to share a few words of sober reflection today.

In the past days, we have buried the best known living Muslim in the world -- the People’s Champ, Muhammad Ali.

We also are burying the victims of someone who clearly was associated with, among other things, al-Islam.

So who represented the true face of al-Islam -- which translates, literally, as “the peace,” which comes only from the creator of peace? Ali? or Omar Mateen?

Let me reframe the question this way, as I have done before from this very podium:

The great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Ku Klux Klan, both claimed to be following the Bible. So who was the real Christian?

I could talk today about how our loathing of terror cannot become hate for al-Islam.  But I think most who care to have already heard and incorporated that message.

I would prefer a call for sober reflection, and humanitarian consciousness raising, moving beyond our myopic American fears.

In the spirit of our "call to action," I suggest we get beyond the cycle of denouncing terror -- followed by more terror.

Specifically, I want to pose the question:  Why do we conflate terrorism with a faith, rather than … our policy?

We are all devastated, of course, by Orlando.

But why don't we care as much about how many innocent brown cab drivers carrying the wrong passenger whose vehicle we drone-bombed today? or yesterday?

Why have we forgotten about that drowned Syrian refugee baby washed up on the beach?

Why have we forgotten that our arrogant, greedy, misguided policy has destabilized the entire planet?

We hear in recent days, for example, that we’re making progress in “retaking” Fallujah. Isn’t that the same town where in 2004, the bodies of our civil contractors, working for our Blackwater mercenary company, were stomped and beaten, hacked and burned, dragged through the streets, and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River?

Was this happening before our illegal invasion of their country on the pretext of searching for weapons of mass destruction, despite the protests of millions around the world including me and many of you?

Yet we hear the question, “Why do they hate us?”

And again I pose the question: why do we conflate terrorism with a faith, rather than … our policy?

We also hear a lot in the media these days about “angry white Americans.”

But who has more right to be angry than me? All my life, I have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Yet, anyone who knows me knows that angry, I ain’t.

In fact, who really has a right to be angry today? Our black, brown, red, yellow and white children?

Or the Tea Party folks who protested Obamacare by threatening, “next time we’ll bring our guns?”

Or the families of the victims of Abu Ghraib? or Mother Emmanuel?  or Rosewood?  or Tulsa? or Orlando?

Or the people of Yemen, who are being savaged by our weapons wielded in the hands of the Saudis?

Or how about the Egyptians who democratically elected a government that was ousted in a military coup while our government winked?

Again, in the spirit of our "call to action," I suggest we get beyond the cycle of denouncing terror, followed by more terror.

No single, disturbed, individual, or group of individuals, acting contrary to the tenets of al-Islam -- or any other beautiful faith -- can represent all Muslims, any more than I do.

Any more than one pedophile represents all gay people, or all Catholics.

As we know intuitively here at First UU, what the world needs now, is love. To get there, humanity needs unity -- as in Unitarian.

As in the unity represented by the recently deceased Muslim most beloved by fellow Muslims on the planet, may he rest in peace.

Others, however, want more chaos. we have plenty of politicians poised to help provide just that.

Again, in the spirit of our "call to action," i would like to suggest some sober reflection -- and that we then work to get beyond the cycle of denouncing terror, followed by more terror.

Thank You

Text of address by CB Hanif at 1stUUPB, June 19, 2016.

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