While readers of our cover story welcome Muslim Americans in their midst, some were unable to shake memories of 9/11. One said, "There is no doubt that Americans who happen to be Muslim are contributing a lot to our country. Look around—you will find that the vast majority are good. Every community, religion or ethnicity has the good, the bad and those in between." Another added, "Islam doesn't tolerate pornography, drug abuse or alcohol. I say no to terrorists and yes to Muslims." Others commented on what they saw as Muslim communities' failure to condemn radical elements. "The leaders of Muslim communities could help their cause by standing on rooftops and decrying the murderers among them, instead of getting indignant when the world perceives their silence as complicity." And one hijab-wearing medical resident wrote, "In order to know Islam, you have to look at Islam, not the fallible human."
NEWSWEEK's "Islam in America" cover photo (July 30) elucidates everything Lisa Miller reports in her article and much more. Intelligence, strength, beauty and pride coalesce into a microcosm of diversity that is at once the very definition of America and a portrait of its ability to isolate its own people. I was not surprised to find that Michael O'Neill's photo was taken in New York City, home of all cultures and one of the sites of the 9/11 attacks. This complex irony speaks volumes about the challenges we face as a country and the lessons in tolerance we still sorely need.
American Muslims can play a key global role in the much-needed reformation of Islam by debating and addressing its often contradictory tenets; eliminating community problems like illiteracy, high birthrates and subjugation of women; not blaming "infidels" for what is wrong with the Muslim world; exposing petrodollar-funded Saudi Wahhabi preachers, who can only drag Muslims further into a medieval abyss. Will the Islamic Mandela, Gandhi or Martin Luther King emerge from America? Time will tell.
Ft. Worth, Texas
Left unchecked, negative stereotyping of American Muslims will have dire consequences. Their growing isolation and embitterment will deprive the nation of a valuable human resource. And terrorists will inevitably exploit the situation by recruiting the oppressed. Bias is a two-edged sword.
President Bush's answer to Fareed Siddiq's question on what the United States is "doing with public diplomacy to change the hearts and minds" of Muslims worldwide should have been: "What is the moderate Muslim community doing to protect against the hijacking of Islam?" If 19 right-wing Christian conservatives had flown aircraft into buildings with the intent of killing innocents and continued to release a stream of suicide bombers, true Christians worldwide would have rallied and still be protesting, en masse, this total assault on their religion. Many of us have taken the Muslim communities' lack of anger as tacit approval of militant Islam. Unfortunately, Islam has become synonymous with violence and terror, and many moderate, peaceful Muslims are now victims as well. If Islam is to be a positive, constructive force in the 21st century, it must change from within, and worldwide opinion will follow.
The essence of terrorism rests on psychological detachment from its victims, contemptuous indifference to their suffering, and self-delusion. A significant proportion of America's young Muslims exhibit all three (39 percent believe in being distinct from society, 26 percent think suicide bombing is justified and 38 percent say Arabs didn't commit the 9/11 crimes). Therein lies a recipe for a future disaster in the United States.
As a Muslim woman in my mid-20s, I have often wondered about and am concerned with the future of Muslim youth in a post-9/11 America. No matter what a person's ethnicity, religion or gender, high school is a time filled with trials and tribulations. It is nice to know that young Muslim women don't let the hijab become a barrier when it comes to participating in sports or other activities in high school. This is a crucial time for all Muslim youth to diminish negative stereotypes and rise above the adversity we face by being positive role models for all youth.
What a wonderful "confession" from Frederick Lynch about the cost of medical treatment for his cat, Fritz ("Saving My Cat: Why No Price Was Too High," my turn, July 30). It's ironic that this essay appeared in the same issue as the pit-bull dogfighting scandal. Pets give us unconditional love, but our responsibilities to them as adoptive caregivers are not without conditions. Pets deserve the same love, respect and consideration for their well-being that we extend to people.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
I'm a working mother of two, and a Colorado farm producer. What a shame that I had never heard of agronomist and humanitarian Norman Borlaug ("He Only Saved a Billion People," July 30). Borlaug should receive more acclaim for his development of "dwarf wheat" in the 1950s, which greatly increased grain production worldwide. It was refreshing to read about his accomplishments and his continued drive to "feed the world." If only the media would cover true accomplishments rather than giving us minute-by-minute updates on Lindsay, Britney and Paris. Please bring us more news like this.
In "American Dreamers" (July 30), we mistakenly included Iran among a list of nations in the Arab world. NEWSWEEK regrets the error.