5 years ago I was stuck in traffic, trying to get home to my wife and children after a long day in the office, when I heard on the radio that there had been a mass shooting in Ft. Hood. I remember my initial reaction that I later regretted as selfish, was “please God don’t don’t let the killer be Muslim”. Now 5 years later, I find myself in the same awkward position as I was then. Though I despise myself for the thought, I still find myself filled with anxiety, pleading with God to not let the killer turn out to be a Muslim this time.
As self serving as it may seem, I know I am not alone in this request. Many American Muslims are wondering either aloud or deep within themselves what tomorrow will bring if it is revealed that a Muslim is behind yet another tragic shooting in Ft. Hood. We worry about our personal safety and that of our children, we wonder about the potential harassment or worse at school, or the odd stares and whispers at work, and we wonder most of all, if tomorrow our status as Americans will have been reduced to nothing more than potential terrorists. Already we have Right-Wing media personalities like Patrick Dollard, threatening and encouraging others to slaughter every Muslim in America if the shooter turns out to be a Muslim.
These thoughts and fears are real, and yet I still can’t help but despise my initial thoughts and even the butterflies that currently war within my stomach. As an American and a veteran who’s served this nation in one capacity or another since the age of 17, it’s a really big pill to swallow knowing that more than any other group, the safety of me and my family, could seriously be compromised, merely because we happen to claim the same religion as a killer. As a parent, I wonder what do I tell my children who still remember the profound sadness dad felt after a grueling day filled with interviews explaining our faith to skeptics in November 2009.
How do I share with them now that they are older and some near college age, that their father, who still has his Marine Dress Blues hanging in the closet, is afraid of what his fellow Americans might do to others who share our faith? It’s a perplexing suite of emotions that currently flow through my veins and the sad part is the one emotion that should be at the forefront of my mind as well as many other Americans is not. While we all anticipate the verdict of whether or not this Soldier, this killer, is or isn’t a Muslim, there are people grieving in Texas right now, who’ve lost loved ones, are praying for recovery, and thanking God for life right now. Heroes and their families have had to endure an evening of terror and pain that will not go away anytime soon, and unfortunately in the comfort of my DC area home, while I send my prayers and condolences to the victims and their families, the ugliness behind the Muslim question persists…