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An American Muslim's Moral Quandary

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The American Janus

I am troubled about my carefree life in the USA; I am in a moral quandary

Edip Yuksel, J.D.

I am a privileged citizen of a country that so far has blessed me with a safe haven from the harassment and harms of religious zealots and oppressive laws of the government of my birth country. The USA also provided me with a heaven on earth. Though my voice and the voice of other likeminded people are made almost inaudible by corporate loudspeakers that dominate the media, I am not harassed here for my liberal and progressive views. I have criticized American presidents and their domestic and foreign policies without auto censorship and I have not been even once interrogated by police for daring to do such. I am also a privileged US citizen financially, since my family's income has been in six figures; before voluntarily turning my full time job to part time, we earned more than 95 percent of Americans. Like most we are also plagued with the disease called consumerism; we spend almost all what we earn. Somehow we managed to mortgage two houses, own two cars and the newest electronic gadgets.

Like many, you too might wonder: "Then, what is your problem Edip? You should be happy and content." Or if you are an intellectually handicapped wrong-wing jingoist who has been Limbaughted, Hannetized, Glennized, Palinized, and Pantagonized you could pontificate: "If you do not like America, go back to the country which you came from!"

Before sharing with you my quandary, let me respond those jingoists who pretend to be patriots. If they had not let the propaganda of big corporations/government disable their critical thinking faculties, they would be ashamed of expecting me to "either shut up or get out." I have few words for those who consider freedom in their incorporated monopoly: The earth belongs to God. Perhaps your ancestors came to America without even asking the permission (now, visa) of the indigent population here. Second, I did not come to this country to earn a living or make more money. To the contrary, I give up the life of luxury and prestige as a best-selling author and a promising political leader --my former comrades are now presidents and prime ministers in Turkey-- because of philosophical and ethical issues. I chose this country to live as a free, as a moral person. If my freedom of speaking up against corrupt and oppressive governments is curtailed here too by bigots like you, then I will seek another place on this planet to live as a free man, by God's will. But, until then, I will continue doing exactly what I expected myself to be doing the day I immigrated here and what the founding fathers of this country too expected me to do: to live as a free man, without fear of the government, of the majority or the church. I have accepted the truth so that the truth will set me free!

As I said, I am happy and content. I am not an atheist yet I do not believe in God. I am a rational monotheist, since I know that there is a compassionate, omniscient and omnipotent God. As a philosopher, I also know the meaning of "knowing," and its epistemological implications and the rhetorical burden it requires. Thus, I have no worries about this life's miserable surprises towards entropy, since like the Buzz of Toy Story, I am aiming towards "infinity and beyond."

Those who meet me in person, observe the child in me with all his innocence and optimism jumping around in his transparent bubble, talking his mind and heart without auto-censorship. Many of those who expect to see a grumpy old man or a serious scholar who might have turned into a paranoid man because of his past and present experience are confused when they meet me. Is this guy really Edip, the internationally known iconoclast, or he is a child imprisoned in a 50+ year-old body?

I am both, and both characters are in peace in the same brain, if not the same body! I have declared in the crowd the nakedness of many kings and holy stooges. No wonder, according to the Turkish proverb I am the resident of the 10th town since "they kick out those who say the truth from nine towns."

I am content and happy, yet I am ambivalent; I am troubled about my carefree life in the USA. I am in a moral quandary. When I look around what the government of my country has been doing to the rest of the world, I see that the haven I sought refuge, the heaven I enjoy has been created at the cost of destroying other countries, at the cost of killing thousands, millions of people in "foreign" countries, and turning millions of them to widows and orphans" The honey that I am enjoying in my breakfast is made possible by the blood sucked from other people through bloody invasions or puppet regimes! The gas that I am guzzling in my SUV is made cheaper by the oil sucked from other countries filled with "ugly and scary people!"

Yes, I know that I enjoy this heaven because I support the imperialist monster through my tax money and vote. The American Janus gives me a controlled or inconsequential freedom with bonus of a petty share from the spoils of war as a reward for my support, or at least my acquiescence of its crimes, my turning blind eye on what it does to "others." I am informed and smart enough to know this unspoken and unwritten "deal with the devil," and I cannot expunge my conscious, my heart. I cannot replace my Homo Sapien brain with the artificial American brain. I cannot brag about the so-called "American exceptionalism," a code word claiming to be pharaohs on earth, preaching and bullying the rest of the world and not being held responsible for our crimes against humanity. I cannot live in the universe of cognitive dissonance by those who sing love and peace in their churches and vote and pay for more guns, more military and more aggression against "others." I feel the pain of "others" whom I am expected by warmongers to consider aliens or the enemies of "our way of life."

Before I became a Turkish citizen I was born as a human being, and before I became an American citizen, I had already rejected the artificial walls and animosities created among my brothers and sisters, the children of Adam. I have brothers and sisters everywhere, in China, in Japan, in Australia, Mexico, Indonesia, in Turkey, in Israel, in Iran. I am a Muslim, a peacemaker, a peace activist, and I will only accept two walls: the walls of justice and peace. Those who aspire and struggle to live within the universal principles of justice and peace are my brothers and sisters. I cannot accept division with my human family in the name of manmade religions and manmade ideologies such as nationalism.

A flag is a symbol, and if a flag does not promote peace and justice for all, is a dangerous and toxic piece of fabric. Such a flag is an idol made by devil. Just a cursory look in the last century will reveal that appalling atrocities and devilish crimes have been committed in the name of nationalism. Nationalism is a virus that turns humans into vampires, into cannibals. In the past, Kings and Popes exploited the religious feelings of their populations, now governments and corporations use nationalism to manipulate the same people who abandon their God-given reasoning faculties.

Protesting the nationalism that has given birth to the wild American beast should not lead to support another nationalism that would give birth to a smaller version of the same beast.   Instead of siding with one beast against another, I prefer to stand like David, alone against all. Eve if I am a man passed age 50, my role models are the youngster who stood against the pallets of mighty tanks of oppressive government and the child who throw rocks to another tank.

I am expected to be alienated from human race and buy into the nationalistic, jingoistic or religious conflicts. I am expected to distinguish the mass terrorists in uniforms from the gang terrorists and support the first group even if they kill 666 times more and commit horrendous acts, including torture.

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EDIP YUKSEL, J.D. is a progressive American-Turkish-Kurdish author/philosopher/lawyer/activist (too many hyphens and slashes, I know). His recent English books "Quran: a Reformist Translation", "Manifesto for Islamic Reform", and "NINETEEN: God's (more...)
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