At the 2014 Values Voter Summit, Minnesota Republican US Representative Michele Bachmann lambasted Barack Obama for not declaring war on Islam and said that there was no such thing as moderate Islam.
I reacted as I always react to her comments, with a headshake and a chuckle. But, as the night wore on, I grew increasingly disturbed by images evoked by her words. What could a war against all of Islam look like? Could you declare a war against a religion without engaging its followers? My answer to the latter question was a resounding no. A declaration of war on Islam would be interpreted as a declaration of war on its followers, and any attempt to eradicate Islam would meet with armed resistance.
I’ve never served in the military, but I know from following the news of US engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq that every war must have an objective, a set of desirable outcomes, and a vision, e.g., finding the weapons of mass destruction; bringing democracy to the Middle East; freeing the world of Saddam’s tyranny.
I tossed and turned in bed wondering what Michele would do if she were president. I grabbed my iPad and watched her speech on YouTube. Hearing the roaring applause of her audience horrified me. The only thing more dangerous than a stupid leader is a stupider follower, I thought, feeling nauseated.
Even if Michele Bachmann never becomes president, the fact that the majority of the conference attendees found the idea of declaring war on a religion with 1.6 billion followers appealing disturbed me. Whether they knew it or not, Michele was declaring war on one-quarter of the people in the world, just as evil leaders fictionalized in James Bond movies do in nefarious attempts to rule the planet Earth. Metropolis-type images of Fritz Lang’s masterpiece blitzed my mind with cruel and wicked-looking, five-star generals standing around a square table pointing to electronic maps weighing options:
Option 1: Extinguishing 1.6 billion Muslims around the globe, killing every man, woman, and child who ever uttered the words Allah-O-Akbar.
Option 2: Rounding up 1.6 billion people in Japanese American-style internment camps, indefinitely.
Option 3: Forcing 1.6 billion Muslims to convert to a “less combative” religion, such as Christianity.
The risk with all three alternatives was the same: The Muslims would fight back. A fierce, bloody battle would ensue, with territorial borders no longer defining nationhood; billions would die in a cataclysmic war that would destroy humanity as we know it.
I was pondering a somewhat more practical option – deportation of 1.6 billion Muslims to a planet in a galaxy far, far away – when I realized that a peaceful alternative might exist, one in which humankind might not suffer the fate of the dinosaurs. What if America didn’t declare war against Islam at all? What if the West didn’t intervene in the lives of Muslims around the globe? What if Muslims’ cultural, economic and territorial boundaries were respected? What if oil companies didn’t dictate America’s foreign policy? What if xenophobes like Bill Maher and Sam Harris kept to topics they understood and didn’t poison the world with their bigotry and vitriolic opinions?
Perhaps I was tired and dreaming the impractical. A costly war that might wipe the human race from the face of the Earth was a much more exciting option.
I closed my eyes with the realization that I’d be labeled an enemy in Michele Bachmann’s war, as I was born and raised in a Muslim family. Wow, an enemy of a country I love and feel patriotic about. How did that happen?