taking the words of Jesus seriously

 

Editor’s Note: Donald Trump again called for a temporary ban on Muslims on Sunday, in light of the shooting in Orlando, committed by an American-born man.

 

Donald Trump is right when he says, “There is a lot of hatred towards America out there in the Muslim world!”. What doesn’t surprise me is that he fails to acknowledge the sources of that hatred. It’s what America has done in the Muslim world.

 

America invaded Iraq and started a war that even our most fervent nationalists now admit was a grave mistake. There are estimates that as many as 250, 000 Iraqi non-combatant citizens have been killed and at least a half million people in that country have been seriously wounded and maimed for life. Even now our air attacks are leveling their cities and destroying many of their homes. Also, that war crippled the Iraqi economy and helped generate massive poverty. So why should we be surprised that there’s a lot of hatred towards America among many of the people of Iraq? What adds to our sadness is that so many heroic American soldiers have been killed, or have had their lives ruined, because of this horrific war.

 

In Afghanistan the suffering parallels that in Iraq. As we kill Taliban leaders with our drone attacks our leaders call “collateral damage” the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. The destruction of the social fabric and infrastructure that has been caused by our warfare has created conditions that extremists have utilized to establish their programs of subjugating women, closing schools to girls and making oppressive poverty a normative reality. The majority of Muslims oppose these actions. So, Donald Trump is right when he says that there are millions of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan who regard America as “the Great Satan” and hate us. What he doesn’t acknowledge is that the warfare atrocities that America has committed in those countries has fed that hatred. For instance, that our military and the CIA are known to regularly torture Muslim prisoners only further inflames this animosity.

 

Then there’s America’s willingness to stand idly by while funding an Israeli military establishment that has leveled Palestinian homes in the West Bank of Palestine; taking the land from Palestinians who had lived on that land for generations and using it to build “illegal settlements” that the rest of the world calls illegal. This has fed hatred of America. Muslim Palestinians know America can stop the injustices they suffer, but does nothing, and they hate us for it.

 

Also, consider the reality that America has contributed to the destabilization of Muslim governments across Northern Africa and throughout the Middle East, creating societal vacuums in many places that have made room for local militias and extremists to take over. These radical Muslim militias in turn have ruled in tyrannical ways. And yes, there are non-combatant Muslims in these countries who once admired us and now hate America.

 

There is much that America could do to still all of this hatred. First, there’s repentance! If those who are running for the U.S. presidency, on both sides of the political aisle, would call America to repent for the nation’s sins and pledge to reject our nation’s power plays for world hegemony, we would be on our way to allaying the hatred that Trump rightly acknowledges exists throughout the Muslim world.

 

What we do not need are the kinds of bluster and threats to Muslims that we find coming from Donald Trump. Instead what is really necessary is to follow admonition of scripture that tells us that if we confess our sins and repent from our evil ways, that God will show us ways to begin to restore the lands we have decimated, and begin the renewing of America. Perhaps then we might be on our way to once again being “the city on the hill” to inspire the rest of the world with our commitment to peace and justice.

 

About The Author

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https://www.redletterchristians.org

Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, and organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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