George Burns said that Jack Benny always thought the comedian he heard last was the funniest he had ever heard. I find much the same to be true of my reaction to incredibly dumb statements by senators. As many as I have had the misfortune to hear over the years, the latest always seems to me the most spectacularly inane.
The honorable Senator from the great state of Nebraska, Chuck Hagel, not to be confused with a very smart philosopher whose name is pronounced the same but spelled Hegel, opined last week that there has begun to be a perception in the world that “we are at war with Muslims." This ranks as the single most… oh, I said that already. Anyway, it is rank and it rankles, not what we expect from people of high rank.
Let us review this proposition. If someone approached you or me and said he perceives Americans as being at war with Muslims, what would we answer?
Reviewing recent history alone, we adduce the following: One of the two largest recipients of annual foreign aid from the United States is Egypt. Although there exists a minority population of Coptic Christians, they have no political power, and the country is governed and inhabited mostly by people who practice the Moslem faith in some form.
The United States intervened a decade or so ago in Bosnia, for the explicit purpose of protecting the Muslims against the domination of the Serbs, who are by and large Christian. This despite the fact that the Serbs were loyal allies of the United States in World War Two against the Croat elements who were collaborating with the Nazis. Additionally, we stood behind a prosecution in the Hague of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against those Muslims — until his demise rendered those proceedings moot.
Large sums of money, public and private, were delivered from Uncle Sam along with his generous nephews and nieces to the ravaged citizens of Indonesia who sustained widespread devastation due to a tsunami two years ago. Indonesia is a nation mostly populated by, and politically led by, practitioners of Islam. They received no less than Christians or Jews in that scenario would have been given.
The nation of Afghanistan was liberated by our military forces from an undemocratic, repressive regime of Muslims. Our Army then assisted the country in holding fair elections and establishing new laws. The new leaders there are just as Muslim as the previous guys were, except they do not subscribe to a wacko world-conquest chimera as an avenue for religious expression.
Iraq was also liberated through the grace and blood of the American People and its brave sons and daughters. A brutal dictator, who uttered pseudo-Muslim platitudes while he butchered Muslims by the thousands, was deposed and handed over to the Iraqi people. They executed him after a fairly lengthy and elaborate trial. The new government of Iraq is composed almost exclusively of Muslims. Although there may be internal differences between Shia and Sunni, there is certainly no American bias against Muslims per se at any point in this operation.
Pakistan is a country whose very existence came about so Muslims uncomfortable in Hindu-based India could have their own stomping grounds. The U.S. maintains excellent relations with Pakistan and is often allied with it in an effort to combat common enemies.
Beyond this, our country has extended to the Palestinian Muslims the respect of considering them parties to a peace process with Israel. This has included tolerating, probably unwisely, nominally Muslim leaders who sanction terrorism and mayhem — even suborn and subsidize it — while pretending to be Western-style statesmen. As often as these leaders and their subjects have broken deals, and flouted treaty commitments, our diplomats have persisted in giving them chance after chance for rehabilitation.
All of this is not to mention our peaceable arrangements with many Muslim nations from Saudi Arabia to Yemen to Malaysia. A great deal of trade in goods and services goes on within this axis, including such ill-advised excess as last year’s nearly completed deal with a Dubai company to manage our major ports.
Anyone who can survey this horizon of information and conclude we are conducting a national or ideological scuffle against Muslims is impervious to sensible thought as constructed from observation seasoned by reason. Only a really disturbed conspiracy theorist or an obsessive blinded by paranoia could arrive at such a premise.
Surely there are such people, but then again there are people of every twisted stripe; this is not a school of thought worth including in a serious debate. And that, Senator Hagel, is the most well-founded position I have ever taken.