CPM: But don’t we have to start with those radical groups? That’s what I don’t get. What I see as the root of any mistrust between American Muslims and the rest of America, stems from ISIS or al-Qaeda. Most Americans aren’t thinking about Saudi Arabia, so I wonder why we can’t unify against that threat first — just get it off the table so we can establish trust.
Deen: I really hate the phrase “moderate Muslims.” I always think, “Well, I don’t want to be ostracized, so yes, I’m moderate,” but the problem is, I don’t hear “Christian moderate,” I don’t hear “Jewish moderate.” Why do I have to be a “moderate Muslim?” Why can’t I just be “Muslim” and if some damn idiot is radicalized, then he’s a “radical Muslim?”
CPM: I get your point, but there are “fundamentalist Christians” and Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Jews.
Deen: I think this “moderate Muslim” thing is really like hurting the Muslim community, because we’re like, “What the hell? How much more moderate can I be? Do we have to rewrite the Koran to be moderate?” That’s the thing now, people want to rewrite the Koran so everyone can understand it better, but that will never happen. It’s not been rewritten in fourteen hundred years.
CPM: What about getting rid of ISIS first, though?
Sayed: Think of it like this, let’s say your job is to get all those defective Volkswagen diesels off the road. How hard is your job if you don’t shut down that factory and VW doesn’t stop selling those, overtly or covertly? There’s still a factory somewhere that is producing those defective vehicles. You could take out all those VW vehicles in North America, but at the end of the day you’re not solving the problem.
CPM: Makes perfect sense but I think the order is important. First, let’s get the vehicles off the road. Then, if we need to go and examine the factory and fix the problems in the factory, we’ll get to that.
Sayed: I think it’s a two-prong approach. While you have a team getting these vehicles off the road, you should have another team stopping that factory from working or at least saying, “Hey, put a pause on it until we can fix this.”
Leaving the metaphor there, one of the things we also have to do is to use education and psychology.
We have normal Muslims, who can preach against radicalism and that’s way more comforting than seeing a guy in an Army uniform with the last name Smith. Now, a soldier who actually has a last name of Abdul Malik, might mean a lot more.
People are always worried about the refugees, women and children. But these were sex slaves for Daesh, and it’s those who don’t fit into the extremist camp or the government camp that are fleeing.
There’s a soldier I served with, he came to the US as a refugee in the 90s and, as soon as he turned 18, he joined the United States Army because he wanted to give back to the country that gave him so much. Ironically, once he passed his infantry training, they sent him to do peacekeeping operations back to where he was from.
We need to see refugees as a raw talent worth developing.
Christopher Paul Meyer writes noir fiction and nonfiction. He is a former bouncer, firefighter, soldier, comic, prison chaplain and actor. When not writing, he likes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, improv comedy and directing political rants at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. His book, Icarus Falling: A True Story About the Broken Dreams, Broken Heart and Broken Bones of a Nightclub Bouncer in LA, is currently available on Amazon.com. He welcomes any questions, comments or snide remarks at www.christopherpaulmeyer.com.