ORLANDO, THE BAN ON MUSLIMS, THE ELECTION, AND E PLURIBUS UNUM — Dr Sel Harris

Orlando Shooting

Its been two weeks since my last social media post. The truth is, a comment by one of my friends deeply hurt my feelings. This person did not like my post. Fair enough. We do have free speech. I have that freedom. So does everyone else. My skin should not be do thin.

You see, for 30 years, I served Churches as I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. Most Presbyterians are conservative, upper middle class to upper class, have money, and are Republicans. Not all Presbyterians are this way. But most are. And for those 30 years, I had to bear all the “bash liberal” rhetoric, that when President Obama was elected, I was ecstatic. Though I do have to say, I do not think that President Obama has gotten the respect he deserves. One Sunday, I preached a sermon on Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. I stated that this was a message that Christians should be involved in through Interfaith Dialogue” with Muslims. One of the members came through my line and whispered in my ear that “…. It may be best if I did not go there again. Remember where my paycheck comes from. …”

Well, I am retired now and I can say whatever I please! That is what retired folks can do. I have spent years hearing from my Conservative friends that God will probably commit me to the deepest pits of hell reserved for Yankees fans, liberals, and other degenerate people! That may be true.

But, until I get there, I am going to talk about liberals, Interfaith Dialogue, my dislike for banning Muslims, my concern about restricting immigration, the “unethical” system that is capitalism, FOX News, the Washington Times, guns, the NRA, and other banned things that the Bible lists. If you do not like it. TOUGH! Last time I checked” speech was still free! If you don’t want to read any further, unfriend me, hide my posts, curse me, whatever you wish, but if that is what you want to do, then please be honest and admit that the USA you want is one that is white, of European descent, and preferably Protestant. If that is what you want, fine, just be forthright.

Now if this is your belief, understand that American Catholics of Irish descent will probably call you out. (I believe they are white). They will remind you of the election of President John Kennedy in 1960 (not that long ago) in which white Protestants spread the rumors that the election of Kennedy meant that the Pope would rule the White House.

This Guardians of Liberty 1943 cartoon was widely circulated during John F Kennedy’s Campaign

What happened in Orlando was absolutely tragic. What we had was an angry young man who suffered from bi polar disorder and was probably suffering from sexual identity. Yes, he happened to be Muslim. But this is no reason whatsoever to ban a whole religion.

Let me put it in the words of a mom who lost her son at the Sandy Hook massacre. She reminded us that the head of the NRA plead with the nation

“…. not to judge all gun enthusiasts or all gun owners on the basis of ONE PERSON…..”

This mother went further to say, in light of Orlando

“….. neither should we judge or ban a whole religion (Islam) on the basis of ONE PERSON…..”

The gun folks cannot have it both ways!

I am going to take the word of this grieving mother. I can tell you all of the horrible things that Christianity has done in the name of Religion including African slavery, anti Semitism against Jews, the annihilation of Indians, and subjugation of women. All of these were supported (from the Bible) — by Christians.

After I retired, I taught on Sunday afternoons at an African American Mosque in Norfolk. Yes, those wonderful, beautiful African American Muslims taught me more about grace, forgiveness, and community than I ever learned in 14 years of College, Seminary, and Graduate School.

Is “bully boy” going to ban and deport these American born Muslims at Masjiid William Salaam? If “bully boy” wants to do this, then Mr Trump will have to go through me to get to them!

You see, African Americans have NEVER received their just recognition. They worked for 400 years without a paycheck. Did you know that Wall Street Banks got rich financing the commodified slave trade? That Northern Insurance Companies got filthy rich coming South to write insurance policies for run away slaves!

The African slaves that came here were all MUSLIMS FROM WEST AFRICA!

The closest thing to hell on earth was something called “the Middle Passage” the trip from the West Coast of Africa to the New World.

African Muslim woman were routinely raped on the slave ships by white (Christian?) ship hands. When a pregnant slave got off of the ship in Ocean View VA, she was more valuable to sell. And the white (Christian?) ship hand got a bottle of Cuban rum!

The injustice did not stop there.

After the Civil War, the slaves were freed — but the black people were not free. Southern and Northern whites “did the math.” Before the Civil War, the African population was about 9%. After the War, it was 21%. The Northern Whites had an idea! Let us start something called the African Colonization Society (and it was Christian unfortunately) to send (deport? Ban these Muslims) back to Africa. Some sent but the majority remained. To them, this was home! African Americans earned their right to be here as Muslims, Christians, or atheists. They stayed — but, they were not free. Welcome to the world of Jim Crow!

An Iraqi girl waves an American flag to U.S. Marines of the15th Expeditionary Unit at the Marines Battalion Combat Operation Center in Nasiriyah

A Native American friend of mine told me one time (tongue in cheek, maybe) that it was a shame that in 1607, they did not have “drone technology.” They could have taken out the Europeans before they got here! But then he said that such thinking is not right because like the Europeans, Native Americans were immigrants to this land as well, they just got here 12,000 years earlier. I shared this story with an African American Muslim friend at the Norfolk Mosque and asked her if she felt the same way. She said, “No, because the African American experience is ALWAYS one of hope! Yes! Those wonderful African American Muslims are still teaching this 58 year old white man! I can also tell you that this rhetoric of “banning and deporting Muslims” is scaring the hell out of loyal American Muslims. I know of US citizens who are Shia Muslims with roots in Iraq that are scared. Many of them are confused. They supported the American military at great expense. Many of those supporters lost family members to Saddam and ISIS because of their support.

I often hear people say that what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany can NEVER happen here. I disagree. Some of the anti foreigner rhetoric makes me wonder. An American Socialist wrote that before the 20th century, German Jews had made great strides for the preceding 200 years. They “got out of the ghetto”, they made great strides in European culture, they were scientists, musicians, and bankers. In fact, during WW I, many Jews were officers in the Kaiser’s army. And then in one decade (the 30s), it all went away. The fate of European Jews? Hitler’s gas chambers.

Campus of one of the US’s oldest Colleges Hampden-Sydney

In 1978, I was a sophomore at Hampden-Sydney College. I was in a World Religions class. The professor attended Boston University School of Theology. For his student employment, he was the “Gentile” at the Jewish Hillel House. His job was to work on the Jewish Sabbath. There was an older man, an American born Jewish man, who gave a lot of money to the State of Israel. My professor asked him why? He said, “the Jewish experience has been either expulsion or “ban” from many European democracies. I can never be certain that this will not happen in America..”

I have disbelieved that story for 40 years! Not any more. It can happen. Trump wants it. That bothers me. What bothers me even more is that many white Americans want it.

ShiaPac logo

This may be my last political post. Maybe. I don’t know. If you want to read future articles like this, go to www.ShiaPac.org. This is an online “magazine” that serves as advocate for Shia Muslims. I write a weekly article. For now, please remember 2 things:

Reinhold Niebuhr in his “MORAL MAN AND IMMORAL SOCIETY,” writes that the majority ignores the minority at its peril. Just because you have won the battle — don’t think that you have also won the war!

When you start hearing talk about banning people like Muslims and immigrants, remember the words of Martin Niehmoeller in WW II:

“…….they came for the trade people and I did not say anything because I was not a tradesperson. They came for the gypsies, Catholics, and Jews, and again I was silent.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak.”

Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller Time Magazine 1940

Could this happen here?

Please send questions & inquiries to DrSelHarris@gmail.com