We went to Madison Avenue in New York City to watch the annual Muslim Day Parade. As always, I had the camera ready to get some great shots. To our surprise, Imam Ali of the mosque on 96 and 3rd was leading the way. Just as we arrived, he pulled Ambassador Ahmed out of the crowd and asked him to lead a parade that symbolized the peaceful and tolerant nature of many Muslims in the United States.
I was, however, alarmed with the behavior of the protestors on both ideological sides who were waiting for the parade over on the corner of 27th. I went right up to them to get a close shot of their signs and their message. I saw some that called Muhammad (the holy Prophet of Islam) a pedophile and a child killer. An older white couple held a poster to remember the USS Cole attack by al-Qaeda – the husband said that the world is in danger of Islamo-facism. A blonde women and a Muslim man screamed and shouted with with each other over sharia law. Another man belted out ‘honor killings, honor killings, honor killings’. A small group of Americans called for their fellow Muslim practitioners to disaffiliate with everything and anything that is ‘American’.
These events alarmed me greatly, for everyone I encountered was an American, yet nobody was united.
(Video also seen on CNN I Report)
What hurts me most is how divided the American nation appeared on this day, October, 12th, 2008. The protestors on the sidewalks had no idea about the nature of the Muslims who walked the parade. All were peace loving, tolerant, compassionate and very proud American citizens. I heard people express their great affection for the American values of openess, religious tolerance, and integration. A small group of young Muslim Americans even sang the national anthem in front of thousands. What is scary though is not how opinionated some Americans are, but how unwilling they are to settle their differences through dialogue and understanding rather than harsh posters and shouting matches.
If divided, Americans will continue down the path to disunity and degradation. But if united, we can do both our country and world wonders, just as we did during World War II when the world needed us most.
By Craig Considine