By Jason James
(Editor's Note: This is the first in an ongoing "This Is My Rifle" series from Jason James that will explore the truth behind the lies, the lies behind the lies and the lies.)
We’ve all seen it before. Crazy Middle Eastern guys are plotting to destroy the world. Their evil plot, devised out of pure contempt for the United States, is without rhyme or reason but comes from a deep seeded hatred for all things free and good. Then the good ol’ U S of A steps in, blows them to smithereens and delivers us once again from the clutches of the savage terrorist guys because we are the righteous continent and we ain’t having that sh*t.
To create a comprehensive list of television programs and movies that have used this plot would take weeks. The nightly news wouldn’t be complete without at least one image of some Muslim extremists dancing around the streets screaming anti-American sentiments and shooting AK-47’s in the air.
The scary part about this is that most of us believe it. We see the same plot play out in movies and television over and over again and we allow it to shape our opinion about a part of the world almost none of us have ever been to. I remember a conversation I had with a friend about places we would love to visit. When I said, “I would really like to see Northern Africa and the Middle East” he gave me the “you must be out your f*ckin mind” look.
At first I accepted his response as the way most North Americans would react. But then I thought about why he reacted that way. Having never been there himself, his reaction was based solely out of what he’s seen on television and in movies. Basically his opinion was based on examples that were completely fictional.
I began to think about this more as time went on. I often brought up the topic of Islam with card carrying Christians just to see what they would say. The general perspective was that Muslims were all evil, primitive beings hell bent on eliminating the Christian religion. When I asked where they got this idea from, almost all of them changed the topic or simply said, “the news”.
Since this whole evil Muslim guy image seems to have been created by the “Christian media”, allow me to refer to the foundation of Christianity and give a brief history lesson.
"And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” –Genesis 16:11-13
This passage can be interpreted in many different ways, but the significance of it is that God created Ishmael for a specific purpose. Now, shall we continue?
"But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the lad and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your descendants be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” (Referring to Ishmael) -Genesis 21:12-14
"And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” (Another reference to Ishmael) –Genesis 21:17-19
There’s a lot more to the story but these three passages are important when discussing Christianity’s relationship to Islam. Abraham, being God’s chosen one, had 2 sons. Isaac, who was the father of Israel, was the very beginning of Christianity and Ishmael, who was the beginning of the bloodline that created The Prophet Muhammad, and could be looked at as the beginning of Islam. In the Qur’an not much is said about Ishmael but he is included in the list of prophets. In the bible God blessed both brothers and proclaimed they would both be great nations.
This is something that I find to be the nail in the coffin in the whole Muslims versus Christians argument. And I find it extremely odd that when the topic of Islam is brought up in conversation, none of the card carrying Christians I’ve discussed it with are willing to acknowledge these passages. The reason for that being is because either they haven’t actually read the bible or they choose to ignore it.
That’s the part that really gets me. A lot of the people who consider themselves Christians have never read the bible. They follow the rules and regulations but they have no idea why. They consider themselves “Christians” but they don’t have the slightest clue what that entails.
And please don’t think I’m writing this to bash Christians. I know a lot of so-called Muslims that are in the same boat. I would like both sides to know that not eating pork or singing songs about Jesus on December 25 does not make you an authority on God and your opinion bears absolutely no credibility whatsoever.
Religion can be a dangerous thing. When put in the hands of people who aren’t intelligent enough to properly interpret the words that are in plain view right in front of them, it can be used to destroy rather than create. Sitting in a church or a mosque does not under any circumstance bring you any closer to God than say, eating a hamburger. If your heart isn’t open to the light, you’ll never find it. The truth is, both groups have been pitted against each other because it’s easy to dupe those who don’t know any better. And what’s the best way to get the job done? The media of course.
September 11th, 2001. I sat in front of the TV watching in horror as the World Trade Center came crumbling down. I actually welled up with tears when I saw a man free fall to his death just before the towers collapsed. I didn’t know the facts or who was behind it, but I said to myself, “Iraq, here we come”. In that moment I didn’t know why I said that but for some reason I just automatically assumed the Middle East had something to do with it. Looking back I now realize that in the decade leading up to this event, I had been conditioned to believe that they were the epitome of evil. The Gulf War, movies, TV, all of them conditioned me to believe that the Middle East was full of people that wanted to kill me and would stop at nothing to do it. And now here it was, a Michael Bay movie coming to life.
In the years after the 9/11 tragedy the propaganda machine went into overdrive. Crazy Muslim guys were everywhere with bombs in their shoes, on their chests, in their cars, no matter where you went Muslims were going to kill you. CNN and FOX had daily “terror alerts”. I always found it particularly suspicious how these news organizations knew where the crazy Muslim dudes were going to attack but there was never any military response in those areas. The reason for that being, these guys simply did not exist.
The entire purpose of this “War On Terror” was to make you afraid. They bamboozled you into it and they used the oldest rivalry on the planet to make it happen. Exactly why they wanted to start this war, that’s a whole other article and something I’ll go into in the future. But the fact remains that those who have a true connection to God are peaceful, intelligent and well thought out people. Whether you believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha, The Universe, etc., the root of your existence is the pursuit of truth, justice, knowledge, wisdom and power. Included in that is the understanding that we do not have the right to assume that we were chosen by God to destroy another group of people because we don’t agree or believe the same thing. On the contrary, we need to embrace those we don’t understand and begin to heal.
Do yourself a favor. The next time you see images of Middle Eastern people blown to pieces in magazines, on the internet or on the TV, ask yourself if you would feel as disaffected by it if it was a picture of somebody from your own city or country. Yeah, me too. Let’s put the propaganda machine to sleep once and for all.
(Jason James is an artist, freelance columnist and writer for RefinedHype.com. You can listen/download his most recent album, "Marvelous World Of Color", here and you can contact him here and here.)