You Want to Honor the Boston Bombing Victims? Invite a Muslim to Dinner

We all want to honor those hurt in the attack on our country in Boston. We all want to honor the heroes. And we have poured out support.

We have thanked police officers. We sent money for the victims and sang Sweet Caroline. We were #BostonStrong. We #PrayedForBoston.

We learned the names Carlos Luis Arredondo and Sean Collier. We applauded their heroism.

All this is right and true and good.

But once the streets are cleared and the flags put away and the city of Boston resumes its rhythm, there is something you can do to make the world a better place and honor the memory of the Boston bombing heroes and victims.

Make friends with a Muslim.

They’re there. For most of us, they’re nearby. In the schools. Working businesses. Living and voting and worshipping alongside us.

So what’s the difficulty? Stretch a little and make a gesture. Nobody’s asking you to wear a chador. (Memo to self: Look up what a chador is.)

Invite a Muslim child to play with your children. Invite a Muslim family over for dinner.

It’s ok. (Don’t make pork. That’s easy enough.)

 

Make a little effort.

Do it because this is America and we believe in freedom. We welcome everyone. We give everyone freedom regardless of their creed, faith, ethnicity, or economic status.

We embraced English religious refugees and Catholics running from strife in Europe. We absorbed Irish and German and Norwegian and Chinese and Japanese and Vietnamese and Mexican and Laotian and Hmong and Russian and Armenian and and Salvadoran and Guatemalan and Cuban and Puerto Rican and Somalian and Ethiopian and Kenyan.

We made major mistakes, but people kept coming and America kept absorbing and learning.

Make friends with a Muslim because the only way to beat radical fundamentalist Islam is to be better than them. To reach out when they destroy. To understand plurality when they refuse to do so. To honor basic humanity when they dishonor it.

We do not hate people because they are different from us. That is America.

We do not restrict your choices to be chaste or promiscuous, to be selfish or kind, to wear a beard or not, to be Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or nothing. We do not bar you from saying what you like about a prophet or Jesus or the pope or the president. That is America.

We are fair enough and smart enough to separate the bad apples from the bulk of Islam, just as we can separate Westboro Baptist Church from the bulk of Christianity. That is America.

We can and do work and live along side Muslims, take the same subways, drive the same roads, vote at the same polls. That is America. Together, we are America.

We can cook you a hamburger or a hotdog (hold the pork) or sauté some salmon and talk to you about our kids and our jobs and whether or not a Sweet Frog shop is opening down the street. We can mix up some lemonade and put out some chips. That is America.

What do you say? Can we do some barbecue diplomacy? Can we grill for peace? Can we show that we are strong enough to overcome hate with love? Can we find understanding through potato salad?

Honor America. Honor Boston. Let’s break some bread together.

  • Rich

    No, sorry. The only way to beat fundamental Islam is to defeat it, not make friends with it. The naivete is astounding.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      That’s exactly my point. The vast majority of the Muslims around us are not violent fundamentalists. And we can work to assure fewer youth are radicalized by showing them the values and common decency that makes America great. It’s not naive. It’s what we are good at.

    • Mo

      THANK YOU!

      Good grief, to sit here and read this nonsense – that’s all we’ve learned? STILL?

      Where are all the articles about Muslims making friends with non-Muslims, eh? There aren’t any! At least, not in as great quantity as I see drivel like this.

      My God. We’re talking about a religion that teaches we must convert, submit or die, and we’re seeing its followers live that out day after day – blood running in the streets, and we’re still stuck on, “Let’s invite them to dinner and they’ll stop murdering us!”

  • Rich

    If only we had invited a few Nazis into the country during WWII…; think of all the lives that would have been saved. I guess we did the wrong thing by defeating them militarily.
    I’m sure these 2 terrorists last week had dinners with neighbors. The youngest one seemed to have a lot of friends. A lot of good that did.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

      Hunt down those who hurt us militarily. Understand and welcome and win those who have no desire to hurt us.

      Both. And.

    • Luscinia

      Um, we did invite Nazis in this country once the war was over and our deep-seated fear of the commies surfaced once more.

      • Jordan179

        Not, in general, AS Nazis, but rather in spite of the fact that they had been Nazis — because we wanted some specialized skills and knowledge.

        And not that America was the only place they could go. The Russians wanted the Nazi specialists every bit as badly, and of course the Nazis were welcome AS Nazis, because of love for the Nazi cause …

        … in the Muslim world. This was not so much because the Muslims feared Communists, as that they loved anyone who slaughtered Jews.

        • Luscinia

          Remind me how many Jews the Assad family killed.
          And remind me what exactly Valerian Trifa had to offer the US. He wasn’t a scientist, he was a bloody priest.

  • Maria

    Sorry Rebecca, I have to agree with Rich here. Having muslims for dinner isn’t going to solve anything.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Really? If every Christian in America reached out to a Muslim neighbor, that wouldn’t solve anything? Or at least help anything?

      • Banner

        No it wouldn’t. Just look around at ALL the countries where the Muslims are in the Majority. What do you see? Oh that’s right, they’re MURDERING CHRISTIANS!! If not raping and enslaving them of course.
        You really are rather ignorant of what Islam teaches, and what it means to be a Muslim. Because once they get the upper hand, you are done for.
        And you can not point to a single place where this is not the case, because it has happened every single time.

  • Hassan

    Very noble and wise words. It is a shame that fellow Americans can’t appreciate the fact that Muslims have been in America for over a century and are every bit American as they are. They are our doctors, teachers and schoolmates. They have served in the military and fought and died for this great country. Nevertheless, I understand the anger and fear – precisely why knowing and understanding each is so important.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Thanks for commenting, Hassan. Yes. We live alongside each other. And that’s what makes America great.

    • Mo

      It’s a shame Muslims keep murdering non-Muslims all over the world, but WE are the ones constantly chastised for not being friendly enough! Why aren’t Muslims constantly told to be more friendly to non-Muslims? I’m not even asking for an invitation to dinner. A simple ‘leave me alone and don’t bomb my city’ would be fine!

      Why is it that we are the ones lectured, even when the Muslims guilty of an attack were citizens of the free, open, welcoming countries which they choose to attack, and they themselves were given every freedom and opportunity those countries offer to them? Why?

      I know and understand Islam. I know what jihad is. I know what sharia is. This ideology teaches I must submit, convert or die. It teaches I am of less value as a woman and as an unbeliever. It teaches I earn specific hatred because I am a follower of Christ. I know it was begun by a warlord and a child rapist.

      I know what Islam teaches.

      And I will *not* submit. Neither will I apologize for speaking the truth.

      Let’s see if this comment gets through “moderation”.

      • Rebecca Cusey

        Ah, but we have our own commandments to submit to:

        Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

        Seems like this would fall under commandment number 2.

        I’m thinking Jesus would eat with his enemies. In fact, he pretty much did that all the time.

        • Mo

          Oh, for goodness’ sake, WAKE UP.

          Do you not comprehend that we are talking about an ideology that teaches that we as unbelievers must convert, submit or die? Have you READ the Koran? Have you READ about the life of Mohammad, who he was and what he did and that he is held up as the example for Muslims to follow?

          As to the Boston attack specifically, don’t you get that these were two young men living in America with every freedom and opportunity that this country has to offer? They were not poor or uneducated or unfamiliar with our culture/country or anything else that people claim whenever more jihad slaughter occurs. They don’t fit the profile of the poor, uneducated, unassimilated Muslim foreigner who has a real or perceived grievance against us and so cannot be expected to know or behave any better.

          As to Jesus, are you comparing the Pharisees to jihadists? There’s really no comparison here. The Pharisees may have wanted to kill Jesus, but it’s not like there was a network of such people all over the world ready to do so. There were no commands in their holy texts telling them to murder Jesus. Nor were they mounting an extensive campaign against all Jesus’ followers at that time. These distinctions are important and we must make them.

          Wake up. Serving suicidal/homicidal jihadists cookies and tea is not going to make them forsake what they believe is God’s will and purpose for their lives – to make you convert, submit or die.

          Wake up. Read the Koran. And please don’t tell me you have. No one who actually reads this horrifying book would ever say the things you are saying here.

  • Rich

    Hassan,
    Maybe you can do what so few of your fellow Muslims don’t seem to be publicly willing to do: straighten out those in your religion that you claim give you a bad name. I know that might be risky to your existence, but it has to start somewhere. The silence that emanates from the Muslims in this country is deafening.
    One other thing: we are getting tired of demands made from Muslims to change the way we do things. For example, if a Muslim chooses to go to Boston College, a catholic college, don’t complain that there are crucifixes in the classrooms. And I could go on with countless other examples. Assimilate, please.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I think this comment is interesting because, yes, there is need for a reformation in the Muslim world. I think that process was underway at one point, but now the radical elements opposed to reform have seized a lot of power.

      I disagree that Muslims are silent about terrorism. I think they speak out about it a lot. I’m not sure you’re listening to the right places.

  • regular joe

    Hmm. This is based on a very recent, very faddish, not terribly accurate idea of what America is or has been.
    A clue is the use of the past tense “absorbed” for groups and persons come so recently that ‘absorb’ is more an optimistic hope for the future than description of a successful past event. The idea that the pluralism that formed a pan white American identity, uniting the differing christian creeds and nationalities of European Christendom, can work welcoming Anybody, in Any Numbers, from Anywhere is a very recent, very untested proposition. Our history so far, with all but the initial successful amalgamation of europeans into a single polity, has not been absorption, but separation, and Balkanization. Example: our oldest non-white-European group, blacks, live in neighborhoods and attend schools only a couple % less segregated than in 1950.

    Note that all your symbols of America (white guy on skate board, white Captain America from 90% white 1945 America, George Washington in a retro white guy muscle car) invoke what you imply is the actual core of America. This implicit idea, of an America with a stable, functional euro-American core spiced up by some vibrant flavoring added by a not TOO big minority of ‘Others’ is an outdated demographic fantasy from 1980. Welcoming more and more, of everyone and anyone, will lead to and is leading to an America that is unrecognizable and has nothing to do with your symbols.

    Welcoming, Celebrating, Urging on yet more Diversity is an odd response to a prime example of the failure of Diversity. Dagestan and Chechnya are both very Diverse and Vibrant.

  • regular joe

    It should also be pointed out that these two bombers lived in the very heart of the Cult of Diversity, where the creed so amply displayed here is disseminated by our Elite institutions. It is also one of our most beautiful cities. It is also one of our least actually diverse cities and states. Hmm, I wonder if the lack of actual Diversity might correlate with a beautiful livable city AND with the Celebration of Diversity so strongly advocated herein. Tamerlan and Django both fled very diverse, vibrant places to enjoy the fruits of non-diverse, but Officially Diversity Celebrating liberal Boston.

  • Rebecca Cusey

    Really? There’s no middle ground? No room for friendliness? Welcoming?

    I’m not so much advocating diversity as relationships.

    There’s a big, big difference.

  • Rebecca Cusey

    PS I used these GIFs because they were what I could find. I don’t know how to make them. In related news, I’d love people to point out some good GIFs.

  • Mo

    I had to go for a walk after reading this article. Why? Because I was so enraged by it that I could not even think coherently, much less type coherently.

    I was going to formulate a response. I was going to ask what you know about Islam. I was going to ask if you’ve read the Koran or any of the hadith material.

    But you know what? I’m not going to waste my time. That’s all it would be on my part, a waste of time. How do I know that? For one thing, this sentence, which speaks volumes:

    “Make friends with a Muslim because the only way to beat radical fundamentalist Islam is to be better than them.”

    Guess what? We already are.

    The fact that you can’t see this – even a DECADE after 9/11 leaves me stunned.

    Silly me. I guess I should be used to it by now.

    • Luscinia

      Anybody who supports the pogroms in Ceylon and Burma is not better than terrorists.

      • Jordan179

        Nobody said anything about Burma or Ceylon, in support OR opposition, until you brought up the subject in a nakedly-plain attempt to derail the topic, Andrew Marston.

  • Luscinia

    Bostonians aren’t the kind of people who take base revenge. Let’s leave that shit to the Burmese and Sinhala, please.

    • Mo

      Looks like you responded in the wrong place. This article has nothing to do with revenge, nor do any of the comments that I have seen.

  • chris

    First off I would say I agree with being kind and friendly to ALL people,even inviting mulims for dinner. However I find this very offensive! Your statement is to honor the victims, but really that honors the enemy! Have you asked the victims what they though of this? I have read the koran and there’s another koran in the middle east (the American version isn’t as horrific)and yes both glorify the destruct of non-muslims.What is truly needed is for Muslim to say this is enough and its their responsibility to end the violence!!Christian do not support nor tolerate someone saying they killed in Jesus name. Yet they glorify their God when they kill and other Muslims shout his praise as well.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I absolutely agree with you that it is up to Islam to fix what is wrong with Islam.

      That’s a very broad statement, kind of like saying “It’s up to Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and the various Protestant streams of Christianity to come together and stop Westboro Baptist Church.”

      On one level, it’s absolutely true. On another, there are a thousand different sincere and faithful people working to bring about God’s kingdom and yet Westboro Baptist Church continues on its crazy path.

      YOu don’t have to look very far back to find Christians blowing each other up. (Ireland, anyone?) Did the majority of Christians, Catholic or Protestant, in the world, abhor that? Absolutely.

      So to say Muslims need to stand up to this is, in fact, a very complex statement. True, but very complex.

      • Mo

        “YOu don’t have to look very far back to find Christians blowing each other up. (Ireland, anyone?) ”

        What is this obsession people have – even professing Christians! – with equating Islam and Christianity or their respective followers with one another?

        There IS no equality! There are NO Christians of any stripe blowing up each other or anyone else because the Bible is teaching them to do so. Why? Because there ARE no such commands in the Bible! They don’t exist! It’s absolutely maddening to hear these things.

        “So to say Muslims need to stand up to this is, in fact, a very complex statement. True, but very complex.”

        What does that even mean? What is complex about expecting Muslims to openly and boldly repudiate their coreligionists blowing up innocent civilians? What is so complex about expecting Muslims to openly denounce terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah? What is so complex about expecting Muslims to condemn the nonstop bombing of Israel by their fellow Muslims?

        It’s not complex. It’s clear as day. And yet it’s not being done, is it?

        • mountainguy

          “There IS no equality! There are NO Christians of any stripe blowing up each other or anyone else because the Bible is teaching them to do so. Why? Because there ARE no such commands in the Bible! They don’t exist! It’s absolutely maddening to hear these things.”

          Well, there are, mainly in the OT, and I would be glad if you could point me how the killings made by christians in the past (and for the sake of brevity I’ll asume it has stopped), against non-christians as well as agaisnt other christians dramatically decreased when christendom started losing influence. Was it because of the Bible, or because in the West it is no longer justified to kill in the name of religion (although it is VERY justified to kill in the name of the state, or in the name of democracy, just to name a few).

          • Rebecca Cusey

            Good questions.

  • chris

    Everyone is creating sympathy for these terrorists “oh if we loved them more then this wouldn’t happen”. Were making them the victims and its sad. They were well adjusted, loved , and had plenty of friends.
    You can’t change their mind about the koran, like you can’t change our mind about the Bible!

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I don’t think I ever said “If we loved them more this wouldn’t happen.”

      Of course, if we were able to love perfectly, the world would not be fallen and this would not happen.

      But, ultimately, the fact that the world is fallen and horrible does not excuse us from loving it. Even those we perceive as our enemies.

      (Although I argue that the majority of Muslims are NOT our enemies.)

      And I don’t know where anyone got the idea I’m trying to change your mind about the Bible, except maybe trying to get people to actually FOLLOW it.

  • Qin

    In some Chinese areas where Chinese Muslims have lived side by side with Chinese for hundreds of years, the Muslims wouldn’t eat in any non Muslim Chinese person’s house even if they are friends, because they consider pork eaters unclean. In if they ever need to invite any non Muslim for dinner in their house, they supply their guests with utentils specially set aside for the pork eaters so as to keep their own utentil clean. And these are the Muslims who have lived in China for many hundred years, have intermarried with Chinese, speak Chinese and look like Chinese racially. Good luck with your attempt befriending them.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Ok.

      Thanks for the well wishes. I do, in fact, have a number of Muslim friends. I am lucky to live in a very diverse area where my children play with Muslim children on one weekend and attend a Bat Mitzvah on the next. This is exactly what is amazing about America.

  • Rebecca Cusey

    I find it very interesting that a few people have “read the Koran.” In my understanding, this shows a lack of understanding about Islam. They don’t study the Koran the way we study the Bible or the way Jews study the Torah. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) “Reading the Koran” is not the way to understand Islam.

    I find it very interesting that no one has said “I understand Islam. I know the five pillars of Islam and the basic difference between Sunni and Shia.”

    If you don’t know the five pillars without googling, don’t claim to be an expert.

    • Mo

      “Reading the Koran” is not the way to understand Islam.

      So you’re saying that those Muslims who know and are seeking to obey the Koran’s teachings are somehow misunderstanding their own religion, and that you know better? How unbelievably arrogant is that?

      I give up.

      • Rebecca Cusey

        That’s not what I’m saying at all. My understanding is that Muslims don’t study the Koran in the same way we study the Bible. I think imams are much more important for interpretation of the Koran than an individual’s own study. Some emphasize some things, others emphasize other things. (Actually, much like Christianity, I guess.) Someone please correct me if I’m wrong because I know I have much to learn. But I think we misinterpret the entire faith if we say “the Koran says X, therefore all Muslims think Y.”

  • James W

    Rebecca — I’m a fan. Added you to blog roll and shared your blog with all my friends. As a POF, it’s refreshing to hear a perspective that isn’t steeped in fundamentalism of its own brand. And loving one’s neighbor is about as Christian as it gets– even if one’s neighbor is a “lowly Samaritan” :)

    Cheers!

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Thanks for the encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

  • James Wilder

    You’re welcome. Your posts on entertainment and Christianity was the perfect fodder for some exciting chatting in a forum I help manage. Always looking for perspectives that frame and understand art, and also have the ability to point us past the Victorian-Puritan influence of the past couple hundred years.

  • James Wilder

    *were

  • mountainguy

    Given that you write a lot about movies, it would be nice if you suggested some movies from overtly muslim countries. There are some good ones from Iran, usually apt for the whole family.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I am not an expert on foreign films. I wish I was. I wish I had the time.

      But “A Separation” out of Iran was a powerful film and very human. In one sense, it could only be set in Tehran, in another sense it was universal. I thought it was amazing and it certainly helped me imagine life in Iran a little better. Humanized Iran. I highly recommend it, although I don’t think children would be interested in or get it, so not really a family film. (It’s rated PG-13) and isn’t graphic at all, but is very adult in its exploration of marriage, love, freedom, divorce, religion, and justice. Would probably go over kids’ heads.


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