Archive for September, 2010

Unity. Diversity. Stupidity

Posted in 9/11, Reflections with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Justin S. Smith

Concluding my Let
Us Remember
post, I called for the unity that was the
aftermath of 9/11 to be part of its remembrance. For this to
be possible, we must remember that we Americans, like those
Americans that died on 9/11, are a diverse group ranging the
political and religious spectrums. But more than that, we must
remember the true meaning of tolerance.
I do not agree with how tolerance is now
used. If anyone says that they believe something is sin, because of
their religion, or that those who do not believe a certain way are
doomed to hell, or that there is only one right way, they are
labeled intolerant. Nonsense; any subscriber to a multitude of
various religions will have these views. I have openly said
to a Moslem as we were discussing religion that I, as a Christian
view his religion as false, and I recognized that he viewed mine as
false. I told him that I have no problem with him viewing my faith
that way and if he had no problem with my view of his faith, we
could continue to have our conversation. This was an exercise in
tolerance; a recognition that we have strongly different views and
a recognition of the others right to his views. We cannot all keep
our opinions and beliefs to ourselves and call it tolerance. There
would be nothing to tolerate. No, we must respectfully express our
views and respectfully allow the divergent view to also be
comes in multiple forms, like that of a jackass of a “preacher” in
Florida that decided to host a Quran burning on the anniversary of
the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an act that defies logic. What purpose
could this serve other than to fan the flames of hate? When asked
why his response was that Islam is a false religion that leads
people down the wrong path. Well, as a Christian, I agree, but why
are you hosting a Quran burning to commemorate the loss of 3000
lives? His belief that Islam is false is not intolerant; his
decision to take and burn the Islamic scriptures is intolerant, and
also stupid.
As for
the interviewer on CNN that asked him why, his intolerance was
shaded differently. His response was not a continued pressing of
the preacher calling his logic as flawed; it was to question his
belief. When faced with a man saying that he was going to burn the
Quran because he thought that Islam was leading people down the
wrong path, he asked indignantly “do you really believe that?” I
don’t think much journalistic homework is necessary to dig up the
fact that most major religions believe that all other religions are
wrong. Any religion that believes in absolute truth, like
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, by rule of logic, also believes
that those outside of that absolute truth are absolutely wrong.
That’s not the problem here, the problem is his expression of that
belief is done in a way that is an assault on other Americans on a
day set aside for remembering a loss that shocked us and brought us
together, at least temporarily as a country.
I support the moron’s right to express
his views in stupid ways, but he should know that the only point he
is clearly making to those of us watching is that he is that he is
a moron. Might I suggest that instead of burning the Quran, you
take the money you would spend in your exercise of publicity
seeking foolishness, and instead sponsor a missionary in an Islamic
country? If you really want to show people how strongly you believe
that Islam is a danger and is leading people astray, wouldn’t your
energy be better spent trying to give them the truth?

For the rest of us, let us try
to remember that none of us are perfect, we all retain the right to
hold dogmatically to flawed beliefs and it is not those beliefs
that make us intolerant, it’s how we express them. And to all of
you that think I’m wrong, I’m ok with that. See, tolerance? Now
it’s your turn to practice. You’re wrong.


Let Us Remember

Posted in 9/11, Reflections with tags , , , , on September 7, 2010 by Justin S. Smith

I spent two hours last night watching recounts of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Though, like all Americans who were alive for that day, I remember it vividly, I had forgotten the rawness, the shock, the sadness that so completely overwhelmed me/us as the events unfolded.

I was again overwhelmed by the footage as I watched it nine years later with my wife and my eight-year-old daughter. I tried to answer my daughter’s questions as to why this happened during commercials and found the commercial breaks were not long enough. I tried to explain that these were Moslem extremists. These were not the Moslems that she would likely meet. I explained that I have worked and do work with Moslems: Lebanese Instructors that invited me to share lunch with them on Saturdays when I was a student aid at ITT; An Egyptian engineer that went out with the electronics staff for lunch and talked to us and watched us eat though it was Ramadan and he was fasting; people that I would call friends; people that despised the actions of the 9/11 terrorists. We tried to explain that though we view their religion as false (as they do ours) most Moslems did not agree with the attacks. We tried to also explain to her that they had a right to be Moslems and to be in the United States.

I could not explain what a person was thinking as they jumped from the 106th floor of one of the towers, but she said they must have been very scared. I could tell she was affected. I knew she would be when we told her she could watch it. She had asked about the towers before when she had seen them in a movie or on television. We had told her that they were at one time the tallest buildings in the world, but they had been knocked down by bad men. That was enough explanation at that time. When she saw the beginning of the program (Giuliani’s 9/11 on National Geographic) and she asked if it was about the towers that were knocked down, we thought it was a good time for her to learn more.

I knew very quickly that watching this would make the world look very different to her young eyes. It made the world look different to me when it happened and the echoes still resound. And as we watched it, some in silence and some trying to explain something that is to me somewhat still inexplicable, I recalled being a high school student seeing the Manhattan skyline from a ferry crossing to Liberty Island. I remembered the awe of the World Trade Center towers looming over the rest of the skyscrapers. And I remembered thinking when the towers came down that my children, the first of which was yet to be born, would never see those towers save in pictures and on film.

I would highly recommend the aforementioned broadcast and I would hope that as we approach the 9th anniversary of that awful day, we try to reclaim some of the unity that occurred in the aftermath of the devastation. Before we started pointing blame, back when we understood the added security at the airports and were thankful for the hassle, we were briefly one nation under God. Let’s try to remember that briefly before we go back to ripping at the seams of the flag and the Constitution. Let’s not allow cheap political points made on the blood of heroes and victims. Let’s just take some time to remember what those that gave their lives willingly, those that had their lives taken and all of those that gave so much afterwards to try to help their fellows. The beautiful outpouring of charity that was the rapid response to a national hurt; let us remember that. Let us try to be those people again.