Last night - a man in Texas was executed. His name was Mark Stroman - and he was given a lethal injection by the state of Texas because he let himself get consumed with hate. 10 days after 9/11 - Stroman went on a shooting spree hell bent on killing as many Muslims as he could. On three separate nights he walked into Dallas gas stations with a shotgun -opening fire - killing two Muslim men - and shooting another man in the face. The third victim - Rais Bhuiyan - just barely survived the shooting. Bhuiyan will be partially blind for the rest of his life because of his injuries - but he wasn't interested in eye-for-an-eye justice. Why? Because his Muslim religion preaches forgiveness.
All the way up until the day that Stroman was executed - Bhuyian petitioned the state of Texas to spare Stroman's life - launching a global petition to have his sentence commuted to life without parole. And Stroman took notice - he was struck by the compassion that was afforded to him by one of his victims - and he changed his ways. In a message to Rais BhuIyan from jail - Stroman said, "In the free world, I was free but I was locked in a prison inside myself because of the hate I carried in my heart"It is due to Rais' message of forgiveness that I am more content now than I have ever been." And last night - Stroman built on the message and used his final breath to issue these last words for us all to hear. He said, "Hate is going on in this world and it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain."
As a result of what a group of hateful men - and NOT what a religion - did on 9/11 - our nation - just like Stroman admitted to - is consumed with hate. We have a man running for President, Herman Cain, who's disqualified Muslims from serving in his administration - and argued that our nation has the right to deny Muslims a place of worship. We have a prominent member of Congress. Rep. Peter King, who is using his powers as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee to whip up fear in our nation - and investigate American Muslims for radicalism. We have the most popular cable news network, Fox-so-called-News - saying all terrorists are Muslims - and warning Americans about "victory Mosques" in New York City and Tennessee - and hate-fueled caliphates springing up to bring Sharia Law to America. These are all components of a hate-machine - filling all of us with fear - and driving some of us - like Stroman - to lash out in violence. But Islam is not the real threat to America - our own hatred is the biggest threat to this nation.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out - there are more than 1,000 hate groups operating across American today - and their number has grown by 54% since 9/11. They are neo-Nazis - Klansmen - white nationalists - black separatists - and border vigilantes. What they are NOT however...are Muslims. In fact - according to FBI data - 94% of all terrorist acts committed on US soil over the past decade were not from radical Muslims - but instead from these very same hate groups that are popping up across America. And while our news media will feast once every few years on a Muslim attack that was thwarted - they ignore the hate crimes that are carried out every single day in America - leaving families devastated and communities in distress.
Mark Stroman said just before the lethal cocktail was pumped into his arm, "Hate causes a lifetime of pain." He then said to his family, "I love you, all of you, Goodnight."
Let's not let this story of forgiveness and enlightenment be forgotten. Let's end this hateful so-called "war on terror" - and focus on ridding this nation of the far more destructive force...hate.
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)