An Inappropriate Outburst

After being sent to Kemper Auditorium by a trustee guarding the Chapel door, I began deciding whether to join the brave protesters or to go and sit in Kemper to watch former President Bush ‘42 speak. Sitting next to the many other frustrated students who had not been let into the Chapel, I listened to Mr. Bush’s remarks. Upon his mentioning of “m…m…madrassas,” I sat upright in my seat, waiting to hear what one of the graduates of our fine Academy had to say. Mr. Bush decided to declare the madrassas (Muslim equivalents of seminaries) places where Islam is contorted to teach hatred and terrorism. He said that we were fortunate to be in an environment where tolerance is preached. Although I completely agree with President Bush on the latter, I think that the former part of his statement needs to be clarified. First of all, President Bush is not completely at fault for the statements he made Saturday afternoon. On the contrary, it is his campaign benefactors, his sons, and people such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson, and Franklin Graham, who deserve to be admonished for such remarks. For example, Graham called Islam a “wicked religion;” similarly, Falwell said that he believes that Prophet Muhammad was a “terrorist.” These members of the Christian Right are the bedrock of the support on which people like George Bush stand; thus, it is only natural that their views will be reflected in a slightly “watered down” way through these leaders. President Bush said that “jihad” is taught in the madrassas. He went on to note that “violence” is also taught in these schools, making the two terms seem synonymous. If President Bush had simply taken the time to read one of the thousands of websites or articles written by people like Hamza Yusuf, one of numerous prominent scholars of Islam who denounces terrorism, he would realize that Jihad and terrorism are not synonymous. First of all, Jihad is a part of the Muslim faith. When someone attacks the freedom of Muslims anywhere in the world, it is incumbent of them to take up arms. However, Muslims are not permitted to kill the innocent or fly planes into buildings. Such actions are completely against the basic tenets of war set down by Prophet Muhammad, a man who denounced the cutting down of trees that still bore fruit. On the way back from a large battle, the Prophet once remarked to his companions that they were about to face the “greater jihad.” When they asked against whom this Jihad would be, the followers were told that it would be against their desires. Thus, it is impossible to equate Jihad with terrorism or violence, and those who do so are simply ignorant of Islam’s beliefs. To make matters worse, President Bush failed to recognize the differences between Peshawar, Pakistan, and Andover, Massachusetts. The comparison drawn between these two towns is completely inaccurate, especially in terms of economics. Perhaps it would be more accurate for President Bush to criticize citizens of our own countries who are teaching hate to people in our own country. As an alumnus of this school, President Bush deserves respect. However, the political issues he brought to the podium in the Cochran Chapel on Sunday reflected blatant ignorance of Muslims and Islam. I am discouraged, appalled, and angered for two reasons. First of all, I am unhappy that the school permitted Bush to speak on campus. Second of all, I am unhappy that the school allowed President Bush to bring his political opinions to our beautiful, tolerant academy. Hopefully in the future, a more informed alumnus who reflects the values of our community will be present to commemorate celebrations of our school.