We had just put our son to bed on Saturday night when a thunderous boom shook the apartment where we live in Chelsea. "What was that?" my partner asked. But we both knew it wasn't just another loud noise in New York City. Soon sirens rang as fire trucks and police cars roared by and helicopters hovered above.
"I'm going out," I told him. "You have a son, and you don't know what is out there," he responded. Eventually, I did go to the end of my block where the blast was visible from barricades and lit by red, flashing lights.
I spent way too much time on Twitter that night as people shared news, argued about whether the location was Chelsea or Flatiron, and the professional media tried to determine what actually happened. The brightest moment of the night happened when it was reported that nobody had died, and that all injuries were relatively minor. Given the intensity of the blast, it could have been much, much worse.
Now, tragically, it appears to be getting worse. The investigation led to a man with a Muslim name. His fingerprints were found on another device that was meant to do harm, also near our home. In what was described as a 'shoot-out' with police, the man was injured and captured.
Violence is all around us. Guns and fingers pointed at all sides. These last months have seen horrific violence. It goes around and around, getting stronger as it sinks to new depths.
It is up to all of us to stop it.
I condemn violence in the name of any religion. I also condemn the use of the recent bombings near my home for political showboating or blanket blaming of our Muslim American neighbors and friends. Those who are whipping up backlash or demonizing Muslims are serving the devil's lust for conflict. Unfortunately, they are all too successful. At a meeting about national security that I went to last month, it is clear that some of Daesh's best recruiting tools are Islamophobia in America that is used in propaganda reinforcing the narrative that this is a battle of the West vs. Islam.
It is not.
It is an existential struggle between those humans who celebrate difference and strive to live together in peace with justice; and those who turn to violence and hate in a deadlocked commitment to dominate and destroy the "other".
I have chosen sides.
Today, I will bring my Muslim allies even closer to my heart and tell them how much I value their friendship and their work for building a tomorrow where my family and their families can flourish together. I need to hear their voices and provide a space where they can share their own heartbreak in this moment.
To that end, my colleagues and I at Auburn reached out to our Muslim friends and here are some of the responses we got back.
Thank you so much. Knowing I've got friends and allies like you is enough for now. I do fear the backlash, remembering that Muslims are human is critical. At every moment, we simply seem to be the object for someone else to talk about. -- Hussein Rashid
An attack one is an attack on all of us. We must stand together with Chelsea, with New Jersey, and with St. Cloud. We cannot allow these attacks to taint the way we view each other, or even worse, stand by as some use these incidents to justify attacks against others. -- Dr. Debbie Almontaser
Why would this man who claims he is a Muslim take aim at innocent people and disrupt the unity of purpose that all New Yorkers share? The answer is simple: he is consumed with hate. And hate does not distinguish between Muslim and non-Muslim - it wants to divide us and instill fear in all of us. His actions say, "I am different than you and I do not recognize myself in you." -- Daisy Khan
These are just three voices from the Muslim community in New York who are equally as sick as I am about the events of the last days and the continuous circle of violence that plagues us. They are my friends, I am their ally. Together we shall not be moved. We shall stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder and in our faith in our God and in our faith in one another we will get through this moment, and the many moments to come, until all humanity can be safe and free from violence. The circle of hate stops with us.
Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is Senior Vice-President at Auburn Seminary. This blog first appeared on Voices.
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