Dear Oregon Portlanders and Other Fellow Americans,
I understand your anger at that idiotic, murder-minded, would-be terrorist Mohamed Osman Mohamud. I really do. After all, his family was given safe harbor here when they were refugees from Somalia years ago. He became a naturalized citizen. In addition to violating his citizenship (which I think should be stripped away with all haste), he violated the ideal of good guestmanship: you don't foul the house that comforts and feeds you. Young Mo is a threat. He deserves whatever punishment he earns for himself. What he proposed was evil in the extreme.
But, I will tell you this: burning the mosque in Corvallis where he occasionally worshiped as a reportedly indifferent Muslim is wrong. It's the same kind of wrong we experienced in the US in the 1960s when racists were burning and bombing black churches. No different. Its the same kind of wrong as when racists both in Europe and the US burned Jewish synagogues. It is a shameful and contemptible thing. The people who participate in such burnings become terrorists the moment they strew a flammable liquid, set a fuse or strike the spark to set the fire burning. There is no doubt of that. Not for a minute. There is no moral high ground when people stoop to that kind of retributive behavior.
From all reports, young Mohamud was an infrequent worshipper at the mosque that was torched and therefore, that mosque and others in the area were not the incubators of his hatred, not the incubators of his radicalization. So the public and private anger at him is really being misplaced and the unflattering, racist reaction toward the areas Muslims leads to yet more injustice. Sad to say, those Muslims are right to feel afraid of the rest of you now. Clearly no one in your communities, no one in your churches, no one in your community's leadership spoke in a loud enough voice to demand that you let justice pursue it's course and to stay the hands of vigilantism.
Why do I write this? Simply because I have been disgusted by the desecration of sacred spaces, no matter what faith they serve, for 50 of my 56 years. Desecration is just that kind of wrong. It's morally bankrupt.