This afternoon I met up with my roommate Christopher and we proceeded to the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade overlooking the Charles River to attend the Massachusetts Remembers September 11th concert and tribute. It’s at the same place where the Boston Pops perform their Fourth of July TV specials.
I will give the organizers of this event credit for this much. Unlike Mayor Bloomberg, who saw fit to exclude all clergy and first responders from September 11th ceremonies in New York, both clergy and first responders were represented at this tribute (except for firefighters who were attending a separate ceremony at the Massachusetts State House a short distance away.)
Unfortunately, there were several things about the tribute that were left to be desired.
First, there was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick who very briefly addressed the crowd. Patrick said, The antidote to loss is giving. The antidote to hate is love.” The Governor went on to say, “If we give and we love, we win.” Of course, during the 6th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in 2007, it was Patrick who said that the September 11th attacks were “a failure of human beings to understand each other, to learn to love each other.”
We can give and love to our heart’s content. But love isn’t enough. Let’s not pretend that Islamic fundamentalists are going to reciprocate those sentiments. We are infidels in their eyes unless, of course, we were to convert to Islam. And even then that might not be enough if one were to adhere to Sufism in a sea of Wahhabism.
Second, a woman named Shareda Hosein also addressed the crowd. Hosein is a Muslim chaplain and a “Cultural Engagement Officer” in the U.S. Army. While Hosein acknowledged the September 11th attacks were carried out “in the name of Islam”, she drew applause when she declared, “Terrorism has no religion.” While it is true that Muslims aren’t the only religion who have committed acts of terrorism, Islamic fundamentalists have committed 17,720 acts of terrorism the world over in the ten years that have elapsed since the September 11th attacks.
Hosein went on to say that the September 11th attacks made “scapegoats” out of Muslims which “created fear, uncertainty and erosion of constitutional rights.” While Hosein noted that she received heat from the Muslim community for being in the military, she also said she and other Muslims are perceived by her military colleagues as “Trojan horses.” Well, I think Hosein has little to worry about considering how the military refused to take Nidal Malik Hasan’s religious motivations into account in their report despite shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he killed 13 of his comrades at Fort Hood.
Third, there was Liz Walker. She is a TV personality here in Boston and was the MC. Near the end of the ceremony Walker said, “There is a strong current of fear in this country from politicians and pundits which is powerful and dangerous.” Given Walker’s history of donating to Democratic politicians somehow I don’t think she was directing her criticisms towards President Obama and MSNBC. She accused these unnamed politicians and pundits of trying to divide us into “us and them.” Walker said, “There is no us and them. There is only us.” Well, maybe except for the people who don’t share Walker’s political views. Her remarks were both unbecoming and unnecessary.
It is absolutely essential that we remember what happened on September 11, 2001. I have nothing against loving thy neighbor. But I have no illusions that Muslim fundamentalists are going to return that love. I am well aware that all Muslims are not terrorists. But I believe too many Muslims have yet to accept the fact there is a terrorism problem amongst a critical mass of their brethren. Finally, I believe it is important we come together on September 11th. But coming together is difficult when those who preach tolerance are quick to accuse those with whom they disagree of being filled with the same hatred which consumed those al Qaeda terrorists who attacked this country ten years ago.