Letters to Trumpistan, from a War Veteran, Part 2
Why empowering Muslims, rather than marginalizing them, is good Counter-Extremism
Freedom-Loving Immigrants from Islamic societies are among our best assets
I am friends with people from around the world. Some of them I have served with in warzones. Others are people I collaborate with here at home, to help support the cause of counter-extremism through a war of ideas. Some are immigrants, others are citizens who originated from faraway places, connected to free society by the common thread of ideas and aspirations.
It is the tolerant, truly freedom-loving people from Islamic societies who will be at the tip of the spear in helping win this war of ideas. Friends of mine who strongly support this — people spanning from northern Africa or Jordan all the way to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan - are people who many red-blooded Americans would be more prone to share a beer with than any ‘tough-talking’ politician or demagogue out there. There is a nuance here, of avoiding the broad brush of stereotypes and fear-based identity politics against immigrants, that is of deep and profound importance.
I want to share some testimony from a friend and fellow science and reason advocate, Faisal Saeed al-Mutar. Now living here in NYC, he grew up in Babylon and Baghdad, Iraq, and — in spite of his dissenting views and opposition to all forms of extremism — managed to survive the thick of the Sadaam regime as well as violence, militancy, invasion, war, terrorists, and fundamentalist intolerance by many of his fellow Iraqis.
The following is a post from Faisal:
To the country and people that I love: The United States of America.
I am really honored to have received the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold Medal) from the White House with a letter from President Obama.
Our nation faces many challenges but I really hope and (Yes we can) work together whether we as individuals, organizations or businesses we can shape a better tomorrow to this great nation of ours.
As you most probably know, I am a recent immigrant to this nation.
I feel in love with it the moment in landed in Los Angeles and all the across the 40 states that I have visited since my arrival about 3 years ago.
America is great not only because of its skyscrapers or its powerful military.
It is great because of its people.
The people who hosted me in the great state of Virginia and became my family.
The people who continue to wake up every morning and start a new business or invent new idea and turn it into action.
I am honored to be part of it and I will continue working for a better America and better world as long as I am here on earth.
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar
Faisal is a longtime free thinker who was reading Thomas Paine and Jefferson while aspiring to become a contributor to the cause of reason and freethinking. After being a dissident blogger operating in under the shadows of fundamentalism within his home country, he came here to America as a refugee. He’s currently a visible promoter of human rights in closed societies, advocating freedom of consciousness and free speech in closed societies as well as across our college campuses. He and Melissa Chen, a fellow science enthusiast and campus speaker, founded the Global Secular Humanist Movement for bringing a voice of democratic freedom into Islamic societies and beyond, as an alternative to authoritarian autocrats or theocracy.
If you are a Trump supporter, and have a voice, I want to make the honest effort to reach you one this. I greatly encourage you to look into the stories and testimonials of the many freethinkers, bloggers, and activists from these and other movements, and you will find they are among the most bold and blue-blooded freedom loving people you will ever meet — far more so than the majority of our elite political class.
He currently works with an innovative project for crowdsourcing human rights through direct support to dissidents in closed societies, an effort called Movements (www.movements.org ) and seeks to empower and give a voice to more freethinkers and lovers of freedom from around the world. As a to-time Iraq veteran, I want you to think of the risks he and many other Iraqis took when serving as a translator with the Coalition Forces alongside US soldiers. It is people like this who are often double-vilified, both by Islamists as well as by many on the American and European Far Right, who often ignorantly regard them as ‘Jihadi’ or ‘radicals’ merely on the basis of their origin and appearance. It is in spite of intolerance and ignorance from both of these ends of extremism that moderation, reason, and sensible ideas emerge and triumph in conversation.
These immigrants — citizens and noncitizens alike — are helping spearhead the power and influence of this transformative conversation over all forms of fundamentalism. These people are assets to our society, and stakeholders in the arms race of freedom. View them as such, and your entire strategy — and very way of looking at combating extremism — will change dramatically.
About the Author
John Kirbow is a science and human rights activist, and writer. His bio is here.
Organization: Reason Revival (founder)