“I really, really know this feeling. It is something he and I have in common. But I don’t think Bush believes that all people deserve to be fed, and I do. Pretty much. He believes in serving the poor, if they are the deserving poor. But I am going to pray for him to be OK today, to feel loved, and to be fed, because I think that if you want to change the way you feel about someone, you have to change the way you treat them.
“I’m going to try to treat him better. Maybe I will send him a little something; socks perhaps, or felt pens. Or balloons. He’s family. I hate this, because he is a dangerous member of the family, like a Klansman. To me, his policies deal death and destruction, and maybe I can’t exactly forgive him right now, in the classical sense, of canceling my resentment and judgment. But I can at least acknowledge that he gets to eat, too….”
And to think that a human being can walk around with this kind of stuff bouncing around inside her head and still think of herself as someone whose views deserve serious consideration. (Then again, the people at Salon obviously think Ms. Lamott deserves a hearing since she does get paid for her efforts by the perpetually cash-strapped website.)
On an altogether different note, one of the more frightening things the Monitor has recently come across is a piece by Deanne Stillman on Slate.com called “Uncle Sam’s Jihadists.” Referring to the March 23 attack by Sgt. Asan Akbar on his fellow U.S. soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait, which resulted in two deaths and 14 injuries, Stillman writes:
“The episode is unsettling for a number of reasons, most of all because it exposes a fact about our military that commanders have tried their best to ignore: the presence of radical, anti-American Muslims in the ranks. Akbar, a convert to Islam, reportedly said when he was captured: “You guys are coming into our countries and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children.” It’s increasingly clear that there is a small group of soldiers for whom anti-American fatwas issued in mosques around the world supersede the oath of loyalty they took to their nation.”
Stillman reports that there are anywhere between 4,000 and 15,000 Muslims in the U.S. military. (More precise figures are hard to come by.) Some are Muslim by birth while many others – mostly African American – are converts. Though there’s no reason to question the loyalty of most Muslim soldiers, writes Stillman, “Akbar’s alleged fragging and other recent incidents suggest that some Muslim soldiers have been radicalized. There are even indications that some may be infiltrating the military in order to undermine it.”
Stillman recounts several recent incidents that would seem to point to increased radicalization of Muslim soldiers, including the case of the alleged “Beltway Sniper,” former Army Sgt. John Allen Muhammed, and that of Jeffrey Leon Battle, a black American Muslim and former
Army reservist arrested in Portland on suspicion of ties to Al Qaeda.
“According to the Justice Department,” writes Stillman, Battle “planned to wage war against Americans in Afghanistan and may have joined the Army Reserves in order to learn how to kill Americans.”
Most troubling about Stillman’s article is the realization that the increased radicalization of at least some Muslim-American soldiers has thus far been met with an inexplicable complacency. “Even after the arrests” of Muhammad and others, she writes, “alarm over jihadists with American military backgrounds has not been widely sounded.”