34 years ago (September 8,
1980), my father was executed by the Revolutionary Guard of the Islamic
Republic of Iran, because he refused to deny his Baha'i faith and convert to
Islam. Before dawn, the Guards took my father and six other Baha'is from their
prison cell to the outskirts of Yazd, Iran, and shot them. Later the Guards
demanded that my mother pay for the bullets and that she deny her Baha'i faith
or lose her home. My mother simply walked out of the house, telling them: "You
can kill us and confiscate our possessions, but you can't take away our faith."
Recently America has been focused on Islamic radicals in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Virtually ignoring thousands of innocent people massacred by ISIS, ISIL, whatever they are called this week, America and the West have been galvanized by the executions of two American journalists. If we need a preview of what will happen if ISIS/ISIL prevails, just look at Iran in 1979-1980.
Until 1979, Iran under the late Shah was America's strongest ally and friend in the Middle East. Islamic fundamentalists revolted, the Shah fled, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile and the Islamic Republic of Iran's theocratic dictatorship was born. The Revolutionary Guard executed thousands of Baha'is, gays, liberals, intellectuals and literate people. In a few cases, such as that of my father, the executions were so repugnant to Iranians that the Guards hired Palestinian killers for the dirty work. The huge military power of Iran and total control of the Iranian people were firmly in the hands of radical Islamists, virtually overnight.
The same forces that fed the fires of radical Islam in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, throughout the Middle East and the world are making Islam the fastest-growing religion in America and Europe and attracting a growing number of radicals: poverty, social and economic injustice, desperation and hopelessness. Americans and Europeans now realize that growing numbers of their citizens fly off to join the jihad, and then return home to radicalize the Islamic communities. We hear so many dire warnings from Homeland Security that we hardly notice them anymore, but we must pay attention to this one right now.
By the way, I do not hate Islam or Muslims, despite my family's experience. I respect all religions and the right of all people the religion of their choice (or to no religion if that is their choice). But I am more qualified than most to recognize the threat that radical Islam poses to Florida and to America and the world, and how to defuse it.
We are beginning to realize that drones and wars have created far more new enemies for America than they have killed. More killing cannot stop the growth of radical Islam. We must address the root causes: poverty, social and economic injustice, desperation and hopelessness, not only in the Islamic countries, but in the U.S. and especially in Florida. Greedy politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, have sold out the people and passed laws that concentrate wealth in the hands of 1% at the expense of the 99%.
The middle class is being crushed out of existence, poverty is growing, and the minimum wage is 25% less than it was 40 years ago. Add in over 1,000,000 Floridians (over 1 in 20!) who are ex-felons, barred from voting denied most jobs, and the minority party (Republican) governor and legislature refusing to accept Medicaid expansion to cover a million Floridians (most of them working poor). We are incubating and feeding radical Islam right in our own neighborhoods. Economic inequality in America (and Florida) is worse than it was in Tsarist Russia, in Marie Antoinette's France, and at any time since 1928 in the U.S. And a big-money minority party controls Florida's government (Scott was elected by only 23.2% of registered voters).