Dear Muslims,

I am an American, a Christian, and a US Army Soldier. I’m white, I grew up in the South, and I love Jesus, as well as the life of freedom and prosperity that my country has enabled me to have. I have fought in Iraq and lost several really good friends there.

I don’t hate you. I don’t fear you. I don’t want you to leave this country. I want to know you, your heart, your struggles, and your joys. I want to have you over to my house for barbecues. I want our children to be friends and play in the back yard together. I want you to join my fantasy football league. I want to give you crap and make fun of you for not picking Marshawn Lynch in the first round of the draft when you had the opportunity. I want you to give me crap when it turns out that you were right, because Marshawn Lynch kind of sucks this year. I want to share mutual respect with you.

We share a common enemy in the radical Islamist. They want to drive us apart and to fear each other. They want your children to grow up hating my children. They want you to believe our way of life is evil and that we must be punished for it. They produce a barrage of internet propaganda aimed at isolating your children from those not like them in an attempt to recruit them to do evil on their behalf. Every terrorist attack against innocent people in this world is an attack against peace and normalcy. It’s designed to stir a violent response from those attacked and create more hatred between “us and them.”

Sadly, it’s working. It is producing the full range of human fear responses toward Arab-looking people — from a subtle sense of suspicion and unease communicated with sideways glances at each other on the street, to full-scale Islamophobia and racism. I want to believe that we, as Christians, could follow the example of Christ and show love to you as well as your people suffering through this refugee crisis in Syria by opening our homes and communities to you. We are failing at this because of the fear and distrust our enemies are willfully creating. This growing divide between our cultures makes recruiting more disaffected Muslim youth even easier for them.

To anyone reading this letter…Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheist, or whatever. We simply cannot let them win. We can’t allow them to make us hate each other. Fear and hate are their most effective weapons and we must neutralize them in order to break the cycle. If you truly want peace, I challenge you to befriend someone “on the other side.” Let’s have a joint Church/Mosque cookout in a park where our kids can chase each other around and argue over who gets to be Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Prince Hans. We need to learn about each other’s lives and differences. I believe we will find that there aren’t as many differences as one might think. We all want to make a living, raise our families in a safe place, and live in peace.

Unfortunately, there are some wolves out there that will not stop killing sheep until they are put down. Please do not blame us for using our staff to protect the flock. Please know that when it comes to terrorism, I consider all peace loving people part of the flock, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. That includes you, of course. War is hell but as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Me (4th from left) with Kurdish Soldiers in Iraq in 2009.

If there happen to be any Muslims reading this that have already been radicalized, I feel sorry for you. You have bought into a lie. You have been promised a glory for your actions that does not exist. We take no joy in killing you, but we will do it because you have forced our hand. We will reduce Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) to an impotent and ineffective shell of what it once was just as we have with Al Qaeda. The world will not know your names, but your families will undoubtedly mourn your loss. May God have mercy on your souls.

Respectfully,

DS

**UPDATE: Wow! I’m so humbled by how this letter has traveled around the world in the last few days. I’m receiving messages of support from every corner of the globe right now. To keep the conversation going, use the hashtag #dearmuslims and lets see how far it can go! If you are interested in my future postings, follow David Swan on Medium or @davidswan on Twitter. Additionally, an Army buddy and I have now launched a blog called 30mikemike.com where people that think like us can share what WE think it means to be American. Thanks for reading!**

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