Horror. Sadness. Shock. And then fear.
This was the procession of sentiments coming from Afghan-Americans who watched this week as a killer and terrorist who murdered 49 people turned out to be one of their own.
“This is a tragedy. And no one can believe it,” said one friend whose family fled southern Afghanistan when the Russians invaded and found safety in America in the 1980s.
But in this moment of grief is also a shiver of fear that a country to which they belong is now turning its sights on them and those who share their faith. And in this moment of terror is a time to define who we are as Americans.
Do we believe that blocking all members of a world religion would keep us safer? Do we speak seriously about a blanket “ban” on members of a faith whose sons and daughters serve in and out of uniform at war? Are we prepared to keep out of this country Afghan and Iraqi Muslims who risked their lives each day to be the eyes and ears and voice of U.S. soldiers on the battlefield?
So far, the answer is no. As Gallup noted at the end of last year, “a majority of all groups” say Muslims are “loyal to the U.S.”
Gallup also found that “a majority of all religious groups in the U.S. disagree with the statement that ‘Muslims living in this country are sympathetic to Al Qaeda.’”