I was recently asked by a 12-year old adorable and very intelligent American boy “Was Bin Laden a Moslem?” I answered “Yes”.
The question suddenly popped up on my mind on that same evening. It wasn’t so much the question, but the fact that a 12-year old kid is already thinking along these lines. I had no doubt of the innocence of his question. However, I had all doubts about the media at work shaping this type of thinking.
The following day, and while having breakfast with the parents of this child, and who happen to be devout Christians, I decided to bring up this question again. It was now my turn to ask the father (who is a good friend) and said “Was Hitler a Christian?” He answered “Yes”. I then continued “Does it ever occur to you why is it that even though Hitler targeted groups based on their religion, we never think of him as a Christian but rather as a Nazi; while in the case of Bin Laden who was specifically opposed to U.S. foreign policy and intervention in the Middle East, we still insist on emphasizing his religion rather than his actions?
After what ended up being a lengthy discussion, we concluded that neither the actions of Bin Laden nor those of Hitler are representatives of their religious beliefs. More importantly, we agreed that once religion is infused in politics, they both become manipulative, toxic, and lethal. Most importantly, my 12-year old friend shared in this discussion, which thankfully succeeded in putting this matter in a different and more tolerant perspective.
As for the media fueling and mongering such thinking, well that's a whole different question altogether!