It is time to heal ourselves now
children’s coloring book recently published by Big Coloring Books, Inc., in St.
Louis, titled,We shall never Forget - The Kids Book of Freedom has
sparked much controversy of late. It claims to be a tribute to the victims of
9/11, but many are questioning its deeper agenda.
to criticism, Wayne Bell, the publisher of the book, has denied it advocates anti-Muslim sentiment. He was quoted on Abc News as saying, “This book
under no way… zero, zero… no way… mentions Islam or Muslims…it does not mention
Islam in generalities...” He claims the book was “created
with honesty, integrity, reverence, respect and does not shy away from the truth.” However, a cursory glance through the book
makes one pause to consider the implications of the message it appears to
advocate – albeit unintentionally, if we are to honor Wayne Bell’s words.
begin with, the phrase ‘radical Islamic Muslim extremists’ appears ten times
through the course of its 36 pages, and in one section the book claims: “These
attacks will change the way America deals with and views the Islamic and Muslim
people around the world…”, connecting all Muslims living in countries around
the world to 9/11, and making no attempt to distinguish between the small
minority engaged in promoting violence and the majority of peaceful Muslims
worldwide. It might be true to say that the attacks have influenced the
American foreign policy towards Muslim countries since 9/11, but the last
decade has also brought to us the sad reality of how America has changed the
way it deals with its own Muslim citizens, where despite assurances otherwise embedding of FBI informans pretending
to be Muslim converts inside mosques are now old stories. This has been widely criticized as a
counter-productive measure since it appears to treat all Muslims as part of the
On a more personal
level, Americans now view their fellow countrymen with suspicion and hatred.
This has alienated huge sections of the society and pitted communities against
each other which should have been working to buid relationships. Similarly,
institutions that should be working in collaboration with each other to defeat
violent extremism end up being in collision due to lack of trust. This
situation has undermined the strength of the American society and created
fissures in the beautiful mosaic of ethnicities, cultures and Faiths that
America has always been proud to host.
also makes other observations that appear to be unfounded and based on
conjecture, for example, “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were
done by freedom-hating radical Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people
hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.” The
simple fact of the matter is that 9/11 and later acts were not carried out by
individuals who hated the American way of life, but by individuals who have
used their religion as an excuse to further their personal agenda. Terrorism is
all about power and control, and terrorists of all affiliations use excuses to
further their agenda, and gather support from the like-minded. A simple
question we can all ask ourselves is, if the supremacy of Islam is the main
motivation for these self-proclaimed defenders of faith, why do they continue
to kill innocent Muslim men, women and children in staggering numbers in Muslim
countries? No one can refute the fact that the 9/11 bombing was
carried out by individuals who were Muslim. We know they were Muslims because
they believed themselves to be, and we have to accept how a person wants to define
himself, but why are we failing to make a clear distinction between
them and the mainstream Muslims?
the American nation needs to pause for a moment and try to make sense of the
cacophony of messages it receives from multiple sources, each with its own
agenda, and reflect not only on the immediate impact of the sad event of 9/11,
but also the long term effects of the decisions they make today that will shape
the lives of their future generations. The
periodic resurfacing of hateful agendas may be the price of living in a free
society, as a dear friend pointed out to me, but freedom also comes with
responsibility – a responsibility for everyone, but more so for those who may
not be on the receiving end of this campaign of hate but who believe in
upholding justice and fairness for all. It is
only when the silent majority stands up to deny anyone the opportunity to
contribute to further disintegration of societal fabric that we will begin to
publisher’s claim, if we are to acknowledge as credible, that the book has
already sold out of its first print run of 10,000 copies should be a cause of
alarm for all of us. Can we hope that more parents will begin to make a
conscious choice to not let anyone pass on a legacy of hate to their children?
Can we, indeed, hope to leave a better world for our children based on
tolerance and respectful engagement?
say, “Enough!” and move on now. We owe our children a future full of hope, not
On a more personal level, Americans now view their fellow countrymen with suspicion and hatred. This has alienated huge sections of the society and pitted communities against each other which should have been working to buid relationships. Similarly, institutions that should be working in collaboration with each other to defeat violent extremism end up being in collision due to lack of trust. This situation has undermined the strength of the American society and created fissures in the beautiful mosaic of ethnicities, cultures and Faiths that America has always been proud to host.