(AP Photo/Corvallis Gazette-Times, Jesse Skoubo)
Last night, I did what women have always done in time of sorrow and trouble. I brought a salad to the barbeque at the Salman al-Farsi Islamic Center in Corvallis. They ate every speck of it.
In the women's space, I was comforted by the women, greeting each other and me with kisses on each cheek. Children swirled around the women just like any Christian fellowship meeting.
They expressed to me their conviction that the arsonist could not be a neighbor but had to be someone from out-of-town because they had always felt so welcomed, having been here for some forty years. Only one woman expressed some fear but allowed that she had only recently moved here.
The one thing that I want everyone to know is that our own American Muslims are our firstline defense against terrorist acts. Apparently it was this angry young man's father who had tipped off the FBI that Mohamed Osman Mohamud had "radical ideas". What pain this man must be feeling today, and yet he acted as he did because he is an American Muslim and loves his country.
"We left Somalia because of war, and we would like to live in peace as part of the American community," said Kayse Jama, executive director of a local organization founded after the 9/11 attacks to fight anti-Muslim sentiment. "We are Portlanders. We are Oregonians. We are Americans, and we would like to be treated that way. We are your co-workers, your neighbors."
When you know individuals personally as I do, it is impossible to hate an entire group for the acts of a few radicals. I urge everyone to make their aquaintence. When they have open houses, drop by and get to know them. When you hear someone express hatred for American Muslims, question what that hatred is based upon.
After all, we are all Americans.
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Modified from my article on Newsvine