James J. Smith’s editorial called “Have you seen my America?” printed on March 14 typifies a growing trend of un-American, xenophobic sentiments that have swelled since the inauguration of President Obama.
In America’s striving to become a “more perfect union,” Americans are increasingly becoming more diverse. American-ness, however, is not based upon conforming to one set of customs or traditions defined by one group of people or the status quo. Being American is primarily based in one’s citizenship and allegiance to the spirit of the United States Constitution.
In Smith’s mischaracterization of Islam and link with an America that he does not recognize, he actually displays how little he knows about the influence of Islam in the formation of our union.
Smith must be unaware that a large percentage of African slaves who helped build our nation were Muslims. Smith must also be unaware that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson studied the Qur’an (holy text of Muslims), that a statue of him at Monticello holding a sheet with various names of the Divine also has the Arabic name of God (Allah) on it and that the chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court has a depiction of Prophet Muhammad as one of the lawgivers that shaped American jurisprudence.
America is an extension of the children of the world, including people from Mexico and the Middle East. It is unfortunate that too many people these days, like Smith, believe that they are being good Americans by casting suspicion upon law-abiding Muslims and American Muslim organizations and by questioning the American-ness of Mexican and Middle Eastern Americans who freely choose to practice some of their cultural practices in our great nation.
Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI)