We took to the streets in protest. Like Mahatma Gandhi of India, a young black minister named Martin Luther King, Jr., emerged, the symbol of our nonviolent protest. The White Citizensâ€™ Councils and the KKK protested, held rallies and abused the protesters.
Governors called out the National Guard, and screaming racists marched and protested in front of TV cameras;Â however, this time something was different. â€śThe good peopleâ€ť spoke up; not in quiet debates or coffee klatches or in passionate discourses in their comfortable living rooms. This time, singing aloud, â€śWe shall overcome!â€ť they marched arm in arm with the protesters, they wrote letters, they called their congressmen, they gave their money and, in some cases, they gave their lives. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, two young Jewish men from New York, along with black Freedom Rider, James Chaney, were brutally murdered on a lonely road in Mississippi one dark night by Klansmen.
â€śThe good peopleâ€ť were outraged. The Jewish community joined in. Moderate whites spoke out. Not only did they protest, they protested out loud. â€śThis is not representative of America,â€ť they said.Â They marched, they sent lawyers and, finally, the Republican president sent troops. No longer was hatred and murder freely taught to kindergarten children in private, segregated schools (as they are in Palestinian schools today). Violence now was not merely disregarded with pursed lips and a shake of the head; it was publicly criticized and, in some cases, punished. It then ceased; thus evil was vanquished.
In Libya recently, our ambassador and several members of his security team were brutally murdered, and the ambassadorâ€™s body was dragged through the streets. There are reports that he was sexually brutalized prior to his death. Now, new information seems to indicate we were forewarned of an impending terrorist attack.
Under the false pretext of an internet movie, the â€śMuslim streetâ€ť was outraged. (Keep in mind, the overwhelming majority of the Muslim â€śman on the streetâ€ť lack widespread Internet access and could not afford computers if they had it.) The White House apologized, but to no avail. â€śThis is unforgivable!,â€ť media headlines screamed of an â€śinsult to Islam.â€ť
Israel, continuously in the crosshairs of Muslim hatred and International criticism, has (in self-defense) killed approximately 51,000 Muslims since 1948. Remember, despite the continual attacks on Israeli citizens, approximately 1.5 million Arab citizens (mostly Muslim) live, work, own businesses, attend mosques and are represented in the Knessett. However, some fairly accurate estimates show that in that same period, nearlyÂ five million Muslims have been killed byÂ other Muslims:Â Sunni versus Shiâ€™a,Â Muslims killing Muslims. Almost five million have been killed, a million more wounded and probably that many again homeless/displaced. Where is the worldwide condemnation ofÂ thatÂ carnage? Where is the outrage from the Arab community? Where is the anger and demonstrations on the Muslim street? And lest we forget, where are the resolutions of censure by the U.N.?
I am puzzled. â€śModerateâ€ť Muslims (while vigorously fighting â€śdiscriminationâ€ť in Western courts â€“ in America, in particular) have proclaimed, with apparent sadness and with real or feigned anger, that extremists have hijackedÂ the real IslamÂ â€“ â€śa religion of peace.â€ť If these moderate Muslims â€“ â€śthe good peopleâ€ť â€“Â trulyÂ believed their religion of peace has been hijacked by extremist elements that do not represent the teachings of the prophet and of true Islam, why do they not step forward and speak up? Why not publicly condemn violence against Jews and Christians, who are often beheaded for the crime of being who they are?
We saw celebrations all across the Muslim world when the twin towers fell on 9/11. We see people threatened with death over a cartoon. We see other religions and innocent citizens specifically targeted by Muslim forces. Where is the Islamic condemnation of these activities? Why do we not hear impassioned speeches or see massive demonstrations in the Muslim street against the murders of Muslims by other Muslims? Why did they not speak up or protest when Saudi religious police locked 15 young girls inside a burning school in Mecca while firefighters stood by and watched them burn to death because they didnâ€™t have on headscarves and black robes? Why donâ€™t they stop shielding terrorists and allowing and/or making payments, bounty if you will, to the families of homicide bombers? Why donâ€™t they shut off the funding, punish the perpetrators and reveal their identities?
Why donâ€™t they?!
Ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a moderate Muslim nation or group, or even an individual Muslim, speak out vigorously and publicly, condemning these radical extremistsâ€™ terrorist activities? If only 15-20 percent (or less) of Muslims are radical extremists, then why doesnâ€™t the other 80-85 percent (or more) stand up and publicly condemn these rogue hijackers or the nations or individuals that sponsor or commit terrorism? Why donâ€™t the moderates â€“ â€śthe good peopleâ€ť â€“ officially and publicly recognize Israelâ€™s right to exist, then stand arm-in-arm with Israel and the West as proof positive that Islam is, in word and deed, a religion of peace?
Why donâ€™t they?!
Silence may be golden, but pastor Martin Niemoller, an early supporter of Hitler (who later came to oppose the Nazis and was imprisoned at Dachau) pointed out and powerfully illustrated that silence can be deadly. This truth is in a poem written by him and inscribed at the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston:
They came first for the communists, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasnâ€™t a communist.Then they came for the Jews, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasnâ€™t a Jew.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasnâ€™t a trade unionist.Then they came for the Catholics, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I was aÂ protestant.Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
All that is necessary to halt the hijacking of Islam and the murder of innocents by terrorists is for moderate Muslims â€“ â€śthe good peopleâ€ť â€“ to speak up.
There is an axiom, â€śOut of the mouths of babes â€¦â€ť
Perhaps you have heard the story of Mike Huckabeeâ€™s 11-year-old daughter, Sarah.Â Upon finishing the tour of Yad Vashem (a memorial in Israel to those who died in the Holocaust), Huckabee watchedÂ Sarah, who had been silent throughout the tour, sign the guestbook. â€śShe wrote,â€ť said Huckabee, â€śwords Iâ€™ll never forget as long as I live.â€ť These words:Â â€śWhy didnâ€™t somebody do something?â€ť
Why donâ€™t they?!
Ben Kinchlow is a minister, broadcaster, author and businessman. He was the long-time co-host of CBN's "The 700 Club" television program and host of the international edition of the show, seen in more than 80 countries. He is the founder of Americans for Israel and the African American Political Awareness Coalition, and the author of several books.