So, I intellectually bullied a friend (or ex-friend, not sure anymore) today. It wasn’t my proudest moments but part of me feel that it had to be done.
An old highschool and family friend who entered the military right after highschool, messaged me today with the following:
Six Muslims Indicted in Terror Funding Plot. Federal authorities charged three members of a South Florida family, including one arrested in Los Angeles, in a conspiracy to raise money for weapons to “murder, maim and kidnap” people overseas and bolster the Pakistani Taliban. Authorities say the ringleader of the group is Hafiz Khan, a 76-year-old imam, or religious leader, of a mosque in Miami
I asked him what he wanted me to say, and he responded with “Don’t say anything. Sit back and watch them kill each and every one of us.” By “them,” he meant Muslims.
After this message, I had had enough of him. The previous week, he had responded to an article on my facebook wall in the most aggressive of ways–directly attacking me and others who agreed that violence should never be celebrated–no matter how evil the dead person may have been.
In short, he contacted me again today. Apparently, he expected me to answer for the actions of the indicted Muslims. This is when I decided to get a little nasty:
Johnathan, read books. Seriously. I am not trying to be condescending, but you have been immersed in violence from a very young age. It is critical for you to think about the way you are lashing out against me–and on what grounds?
From the comments on my page (the day after Laden’s death), you weren’t even understanding the conversation that was going on. I think the image I’ve attached serves as a reminder of some of the absurd and irrelevant comments you were making. You were responding to things that weren’t said and were attacking an ideology that you think I represent. A complete lack of reading comprehension skills, sorry to say it.
Again, I am down to discuss things with you (or anyone) with different opinions that my own. The only thing I require is respect–not impulsive responses that misconstrue or reflect assumptions about my position–or even worse, attack me personally! So “anti-American”? How dare you! Just because you own a badge and take a million of ridiculous pictures in front of your mirror with guns does not give you a right to dictate how others should think and who others are.
He responded with “books don’t show reality. My friends are dead because of this religion and their radical goal to kill infidels in the name of their Allah”.
I responded with, “John, did you know Christians who speak Arabic call God “Allah” and “Rab” also? They are Arabic words for ‘God’ and ‘Lord’. The God in Islam is the same God in Christianity. Read Quran and Bible and then we can continue.”
He responded with, “I don’t have time to read. Besides, while you were reading my friends were getting killed in Afghanistan and Iraq”
And I said, “You are right, books do not solve immediate problems, but remaining ignorant by refusing to seek information remove hope.”
I felt like an intellectual bully on many levels. I know that my friend joined the military directly after high school. He was raised in a low social-economic neighborhood and joined the military to escape a lot of road blocks. He has been immersed in violence since a very young age. On the one hand, I felt that pointing out his insecurities (in regards to literacy) was a cruel move. On the other hand, he has the potential to read and arrive at his own opinions about the world–ideas independent from military politics and those of Fox news.
In many ways, I feel sorry for him. He is right on many levels. Books do not solve immediate problems. Many people like him have been raised to be practical. To attack problems as they come–not with their minds, but with their bodies. Many individuals like him have had to fight their way through the streets, through school, through family situations. John, like many people I know, are survivors. John, like many people I know, do not have time nor the opportunity to get an education. For these reasons, I felt like an elitist bully.
On the same token, should I stay silent and let him bully me around? Should I stay silent while he spews hate with which he has been indoctrinated? Should I be afraid to shake his narrow-minded worldview by challenging him to seek information?
He sent another message that said, “You know I care for you. It is my mission to protect others. I just want to open your eyes to what is going on with that religion…” and I responded with, “You did it again, John. You vilified an entire religion that you haven’t taken the time to read,” and he responded with, “How about we don’t take about this anymore?”
I think that my going back to the reading cornered him. It wasn’t like him to drop a subject. In many ways, I think I exposed him to his own “shortcomings”. I did this knowingly–which may have be unethical. I, however, feel even more irresponsible staying silent while a friend loses himself neglectfully to the rhetoric of violence.