On Sunday afternoons, I join Mejdi and Ismail and Ahmad and Salah for our coed soccer team games at a soccer complex
here in Memphis, TN. They are all of Arabic descent. We also join Mert, a Turk, and Bernardo, a Colombian, and Ron,
a Canadian. I am an Irish-American. My daughter is a Jew. Jarvis and Emily are African-Americans. We play and argue
together, complain about the referees, drink from the same water bottles and use one another’s towels and jerseys.
We are friends, human beings, all equal in the eyes of our Maker, although each of us comes from a different culture
or racial group or religion.
On September 11, evil people tried to destroy what is good about America and what makes it possible for Americans to
share a soccer field without fear as to their heritage. These horrible crimes were committed in the name of God!
But we must not let criminals steal the mantle of divine approval for their criminal actions.
Poor God! Voltaire once said that the worst offenses were committed in the name of God. God has been evoked to
approve of massacring Native Americans, to enslave Africans, and to justify the creation of evil institutions such as
apartheid and pogroms. The leaders who carried Japan into war and to eventual destruction by atomic weapons did so
with blessings from their god-emperor. And we all know that there are people of various beliefs within one hundred
miles of the Holy City of Jerusalem who will kill you for disagreeing with their assertion that God himself granted
them a piece of land, a sacred hill, a river.
Now we have mass murderers who attempt to corrupt the meaning of Islam, one of the world’s great religions.
As Americans, we cannot let them make us believe that Islam is an outlaw religion, that Arabs are subhuman, or that
the people of these cultures and beliefs as a whole condone or accept such horrible behavior. These criminals have
distorted Islam and violated all of its sanctions against harming the innocent. They are "corrupt on the
earth", which I am told is the ultimate sin in Islam against the very God whose name they violate.
We cannot let the terrorists win by turning us into people just like them—filled with hatred and intolerance!
Let’s not forget what makes Americans what we are, champions of freedom for all cultures, colors and faiths.
I will look for my friends on the soccer field this coming Sunday. I will hug each of them so they know that I do
not blame them or their fellows Arabs and Moslems for the evil of a few. It is the best thing I know to do, in the name of God, to defeat the terrorists.