Zaid Shakir Transcript-1

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Zaid Shakir Transcript-1 Powered By Docstoc
					Says something in Arabic

Greetings, good evening, welcome. I’d like to thank everyone for coming out and
responding (inaudible). I pray that this is an evening of mutual benefit and uplift. I’d like
to thank the organizers and the people who decided (inaudible) and all the students at the
college who are dedicated to the freedom of speech. And I pray that everyone’s heart can
be uplifted and that we can all benefit each other. The topic was sort of vague, but maybe
it was just me trying to get a little wiggle room in terms of how I approach it. I
understood it was something to do with Fort Hood and the massacre that transpired there.
What I would like to talk about, and this is consistent with a radio interview I gave days
after that event, and that is, there are many ways to see this. Some people see the event as
proof that Muslims are a menace to this society and therefore the most extreme
interpretation of that particular line of analysis we should either curtail or severely curb
or constrain the rights of Muslims, subject Muslims to special treatment, because they are
just incompatible with American society, and they can snap at any time, any one of them.
That’s the way some people are looking at what transpired at fort hood. I prefer to look at
it as an opportunity for us in this country as Americans to begin a national dialogue of the
pervasiveness of violence in our society. And if we can do that, perhaps, we can benefit
everyone—Muslim, non, other people of other faiths, communities and the world at large.
I would argue that our infatuation with violence—we were born in genocide as a nation—
we are the only nation on the face of the earth, and you can argue the reasons, in just
stating a fact, who have used an atomic weapon, not once but twice. We have been
engaged in an unending succession of wars, at least in the last 25 years or so. As a society
we shoot each other down in the streets like dogs. (inaudible) making the headlines, not
far from here, South Central LA is the Bloods and the Crips, or East LA is the Norteños
and Sureños, or in poor West Palm Beach, (inaudible) and Haitian gangs. We go postal,
some person even suggested, after Fort Hood, we rename “going postal” “going
Muslim.” As if the number of crimes Muslims have snapped and shot up their place of
employment can begin to rival the number of times disgruntled American’s of other
faiths have done the same thing. One very passionate argument was, well, Muslims are
different when they snap. How is that? This is actually another point. Well, the alleged
shooter at fort hood was calm when he went on his murderous spree. He even gave away
his frozen broccoli to his neighbor. What does that—what’s unique about that? I
thought—you can correct me if I’m wrong—there are knowledgeable people here at a
college campus who are well informed and intelligent, that the people who shot up
columbine high school were very calm the day they went on their murderous spree—they
even went bowling. Their normal bowling activity, that sounds pretty calm to me. So
what is the point? The point is this. Unless we as a society can move beyond our various
agendas and begin to look at these problems from a human perspective, we aren’t going
to get very far in solving them. We have to get beyond our limiting agendas and look at
these issues as human issues. Look at these issues that do have common denominators.
As we look at these various issues as a Muslim snapping at fort hood, or a Korean
American snapping at Virginia tech, or some guy in Tacoma, Washington just last week
snapping and shooting four police, and something that is not publicized, but if you read
some of the articles that have come out around Maurice Clemmons, he thought he was
Jesus Christ. That’s what they said. But he wont be remembered, believe me, he will be
forgotten, not because what he did was not despicable enough, or heinous enough to bear
remembering, but because he doesn’t figure strongly enough into someone’s agenda, so
what he did cannot be used to advance someone’s agenda, except for one thing, mark my
words, if Mike Huckabee runs for president 2 years from now, he will not make it out of
the primaries because he granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons. That’s how Maurice
Clemmons will be remembered. Not for killing four police officers as they sat eating their
doughnuts and sipping their coffee, but he was the guy that Huckabee let out of prison in
Arkansas and therefore he can be used to advance someone’s agenda who doesn’t want
Mike Huckabee to be president. That’s how he will be remembered. And those thousands
who are killed every year in cold blood, just as those innocent, unsuspecting people at
fort hood were killed in cold blood, those 13 people in the 50 some odd wounded, those
thousands who die in the streets of Los Angeles and the streets Detroit, or Washington
DC, our nations capital, or Houston, or Harlem, or Brooklyn, or Roxbury, or North
Hartford Connecticut, or Bridgeport Connecticut, or St. Louis, or Dallas, or New
Orleans—they wont be remembered for anything. Because for those who’s opinions
matter and make it to print, they don’t count for anything. That’s a problem. That’s a
problem that all of us in this society have to address. Because every human life is just as
valuable than any other human life, and anyone who is unjustly killed deserves to have
justice’s attention focus on him or her as anyone else who is unjustly killed. And this is a
universal value that we have to get back to. As Muslims were told, and we all recite the
verse (Something in Arabic) (He then proceeds to recite the verse in Arabic). Whoever
murders a single individual unjustly, it is as if they have killed all of humanity. And
whoever saves an innocent life, it is as if they have saved all of humanity. There are
many explanations for that. (inaudible) A person who randomly kills someone, the
sanctity of the life that he or she has taken is so great that it is as if that person has
murdered all of humanity. When a person randomly strikes out against innocent and
unsuspecting people, that could have been anyone, so last year there was, around this
time last year, the attacks in Mumbai, and when those people attacked those hotels, there
could have been one of us there visiting a friend or a relative in India, or there for a little
vacation. Then “bam,” we’re dead. It could have been anyone on the face of the earth.
Because the killers aren’t targeting any specific person. And because they aren’t targeting
any specific person, it’s as if they are targeting everyone. So we have to be against this. If
we look at these killings in this country, people going and shooting up police officers, or
military bases, or high schools or universities. It’s interesting in fact, my company wrote
a book that really, I thought very powerful. I think the title—it’s been a while—“Kids
Who Kill”. The book was about shootings in our schools, specifically our high schools.
There is no common denominator in a sense. There is not a Muslim problem. Especially
based on the number of Muslims who have done this particular act. It’s not a Korean
problem because the kid in Virginia tech was a Korean American. It’s not a white
American problem because the kids in columbine or several other places were white
Americans. That’s not the common denominator, race is not the common denominator,
religion is not the common denominator, gender—maybe, I would (inaudible and
laughter from audience)—they should just chill out. What is the common denominator.
The common denominator is easy access to guns. The common denominator is that there
are more guns in America than there are human beings. There are more guns in America
than human beings, and they are easily had. And if someone tries to limit their
accessibility, they’re going to be challenged by the NRA, the National Rifle
Association—one of the most powerful lobbies in this country. That’s the common
denominator. So if we are serious as a society about stopping this violence, it doesn’t
behoove us to demonize Muslims. We’re here to talk about Muslims, I’m not trying to
dodge that, but if behooves us to make it far, far, far more difficult for people to get their
hands on a gun. And if we’re not willing to do that, it’s easy to go blame the Muslims.
That’s easy and that’s why so many people do—it’s a national sport. Vilify the Muslims,
they’re weak, they can’t fight back, no one has any (inaudible) left. Say what you want to
say, just let things out. (Inaudible) and twist it whatever way you want. But greatness for
people doesn’t come down easy street. It comes by doing the hard thing, like challenging
the National Rifle Association and changing all the gun policies in this country. In the
city I come from—I recently moved out—Oakland, California, forty-six percent of all
handgun crimes, murders, armed robberies, robberies, where the weapon was recovered,
that weapon could be traced back to a store in a neighboring suburb, San Leandro,
California, Trader Sport, who had over 1300 guns missing from their inventory. They
were ordering guns and then channeling those guns to the streets of Oakland, one of the
murder capitals of America. It took over twelve years to shut that store down. This had
been going on for twenty years. It took twelve years to shut that store down. Something’s
wrong with that. Something’s terribly wrong with that. And just as its hard work to
challenge and (inaudible) institutionalized power, its hard work to challenge (inaudible)
institutionalized policies. The violence that permeates our society spills over to other
shores. We can talk about how we have to stop these Muslims—they’re trying to take
over the world. Excuse me. When was the last time any Muslim country encroached upon
a Christian country? 300 years ago, the second Ottoman siege of Vienna. But there has
been an unending flow of armies, guns, bombers from western countries into the Muslim
world. We have to take a hard look at that. Again its easy, “Oh, these Muslims are trying
to take over.” All 25 of them, and ignore the facts. Again, we want to talk about the
Muslims. It’s easy to point out this or that Muslim in these countries that are wreaking
havoc and mayhem primarily on their own people. There were bombing in Iraq
yesterday. Who was killed? Iraqis. Who was killed? Iraqis were killed. And it’s easy to
say, “See, I told you these people these people are violent. Look at this carnage.” But it’s
hard to look at the variable that has been introduced into Iraqi society. There any Iraqi’s
here? No Iraqi’s, but we have Middle East scholars here. If I’m making this up, just tell
me (inaudible) informal, don’t raise your hand, just throw something at me. (Inaudible)
“These Muslims are just inherently violent. They’ve been at each other’s throats for
centuries. The Sunni’s and the Shiites.” Look at Iraq, lets look at Iraq. Over the last
century, Iraq was under the control of the Ottoman’s at the beginning of the 20th century.
Sunnis and Shiites peacefully coexisted, intermarried, moved into each other’s
neighborhoods. The end of World War One, the Ottomans lost their control, the empire
dissolved, dismantled. The British mandate imperialism. Sunnis and Shiites live together,
intermarried, even joined together to form a joint resistance to work to expel the British.
(inaudible) Monarchy. Sunnis and Shiites lived together. Now anyone can point that “no,
that’s not true”? Monarchy ends. Abd al-Karim Qasim, 1958, socialism. (inaudible)
Sunnis and Shiites live together. Early Bath period, latter 1960s, Sunnis and Shiites lived
together. Saddam Hussein Bath period, Bath Socialist Party, Sunnis and Shiites lived
together. Even there is so much national cohesion that during the Iran-Iraq war, after the
Iranians expelled the Iraqis who invaded their land (inaudible) Shiite uprising to support
their Shiite brothers in Iran. That never happens. (Inaudible) declare a cease-fire and
withdraw. 1991 Desert Storm, Sunnis and Shiites live together. Saddam certainly
brutalizes some Shiites, Kurds also, some Sunnis. Sanction period, Sunnis and Shiites
live together. Twelve years of sanctions. America invades and occupies Iraq in 2003,
Sunnis and Shiites can no longer live together. All hell breaks loose. What's the variable
that’s been introduced into the formula? The inherent violence of the Muslims, or the
American invasion and occupation? Tell me. So it’s easy to point to all these red
herrings, but it’s hard to get to the essence of the problem. It’s hard to acknowledge that
our country is the world’s largest arms dealer. Our national narrative may be filled with
platitudes and good intentions about the use of our power and the justification for 700
some odd military bases in 100 some odd countries. But we’re selling arms all over the
world. That becomes hard to challenge, because we’re messing with someone’s money.
But it’s easy to just dump on the Muslims. No one is going to push back. When you’re
spending one trillion dollars for war, more than the rest of the world combined, you’re
going to have to find someone to fight. Who was it in the 80s? Is this war on terror that
was declared in the aftermath of 9/11, is this the first “war on terror” we fought as a
country? There was one in the 1980s. Was it against the Muslims? Muslims were the
allies. The people who have become the targets were the allies. Was the primary target
the Middle East? No, it was Latin America. It was Latin America. And the battlefield was
Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and Guatemala, and it was a nasty, nasty endeavor. Now, as
long as we as a society are spending that much money on war, we’re going to have to
find someone to fight. And to justify it to the people—who are good people, well
meaning people—we have to demonize people. Who were the demons then? Manuel
Noriega, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, the Maurice Bishop and those who
succeeded him in Grenada, before we invaded that menacing Caribbean regional
superpower. Then the battle shifted, and the Muslim became the demons. Now it’s us, but
Muslims relax, in 2010 it will shift back to Latin America because all these Latin
American countries are going leftist. Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales in Paraguay, even
Michelle Bachelet, we can’t really trust her. She actually organized the countries of Latin
America to restore Evo Morales to power, and helped to organize all the countries of
Latin America to restore Manuel Zelaya, in Honduras, to power after he was removed by
a coup d’état, while we sat back and did nothing while we pontificate about the virtues of
democracy. And now there are bases in Columbia. And so it’s going to shift back to Latin
America and maybe 30 years from now it will be the Chinese. But unless until we as a
society challenge the imperatives that spending a trillion dollars on war dictates and
mandates, its going to be somebody. We as a society, just as we have to challenge the
unparalleled violence here in this country—its not unparalleled—the serious violence in
this country, we have to challenge the violence we are responsible for visiting on others.
And no matter how glorious our national narrative is, be that manifest destiny—which for
some people, their destiny was to be wiped out—or be that the benevolent uses of
American power to make the world safe for democracy—as if Hamid Karzai is a
democrat. No matter how the narrative is framed, a lot of people are going to die. Unless
as a society we do something about it collectively. Collectively. Most of their challenge,
no doubt, some people will say, “You Muslims, you have to challenge your extremists.”
We say, “As a community we have to unequivocally, clearly, boldly state that not only do
our teaching not justify—not allow killing innocent people, unsuspecting people, people
who are not involved in combat, be they civilian or military personnel—that we will not
allow it, we will not justify it, we will not sanction it, and in this country, that we will
pledge and commit ourselves for the common good, and for the security of public space.
And if anyone, be that some misguided Muslim from wherever, or one of the many agent
provocateurs that are infiltrating our community and our mosques, try to provoke us to
harm our fellow citizens in any way, we will tell them—and this is advice—because this
is happening. It happened right here in Irvine last year did it not? I mean, do I read the
wrong newspapers? Am I making this stuff up? Wasn’t there last year it infiltrated by
some guy trying to whip up people, “This is jihad, it’s on brother! They’re slaughtering
your brothers in Palestine and you’re sitting here in America getting fat. If you are a real
Muslim you would go and do something.” It’s happening all over America. I say from
this podium—table—tonight. If anyone approaches you and tries to incite you to harm
the interests, the lives, the property, the security of your fellow citizen, tell them to go to
hell. Tell them to go to hell, “You go to hell, because you’re going there anyway.” Just
expedite the process for us. Because we want this country to be great. We don’t want this
country to be pulled down into the gutter by demagogues, or by people who are so selfish
in their pursuit of their narrow agenda, that they don’t care about the greater good. They
don’t care if they stimulate the kind of hatred in this country where innocent Muslims—
good people, hard working people, who fled persecution, who came here, abided by the
law, worked hard and made a good life for themselves—now they’re being threatened
because of someone’s narrow agenda. This is unconscionable. We have to be bigger than
this as a country. We have to be bigger than this as a people. We have to understand,
greatness comes from doing that which is difficult. Greatness comes in challenging
conventional wisdom. Greatness come in swimming against the current. Greatness comes
in standing up for the truth no matter who its for or who its against. And if it’s against us,
us Muslims were the first to say “I submit to the truth.” Brothers and sisters, many of you
are Muslims, I’d like to conclude with some advice, Koranic advice. (Says something in
Arabic). Warn them with the Koran, those who fear my threat. Brothers and sisters, and
I'm talking specifically to Muslims, but other can hopefully take some benefit. What
should we do? (inaudible) you turn on the radio, there are actually people saying, “Go kill
some Muslims. One of them killed some of us, go kill, you see a Muslim, just shoot him.”
On the radio! What should we do? (inaudible) almighty God gives us the planet and the
Koran. (Says something in Arabic.) That you’re going to be tested in your wealth and
your lives and you’re going to hear from some of those given the scripture before you,
not all, but there will be some nasty people, and from the idolaters, not all, some of them.
Much abuse, not a little bit of abuse, much abuse, the kind of abuse you hear when you
turn on the radio to the right hand side of the dial, much abuse. Slander, defamation,
things that will not—a friend of mine said this at Graduate Theological union and he was
almost chased off the campus. He said, discussing civil rights, human rights in the
country, that you can say things about Muslims you cant say about any other group: Jews,
African Americans, Gay-transgender-bisexual people. You can say things about Muslims
you cant say about any other group. “Oh, that’s not true.” You cant go on the radio,
public air space, regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and say “We
should go out and kill group A, group B, group C.” You can say it to Muslims, no one
will say anything. No one will say anything. You could print it, no one will say anything.
Muslims are the enemy after all. So Muslims who are just minding their business, trying
to make a good life, raise their children, go to work every day and hear that? What should
you do? Well (inaudible), you should patiently persevere in doing the good things you are
doing. Just because you’re demonized doesn’t make you a demon. Just because you’re
villainized doesn’t make you a villain. No matter—no one can change the reality of who
you are. Words don’t change realities. Words create perceptions, and those perceptions
can be dangerous in some situations and contexts. But words don’t change the reality of
who you are. So you keep doing what you’re doing, keep working hard, keep being a
good neighbor. Most people who don’t know a Muslim think Muslims are bad people.
People who know Muslims overwhelmingly say Muslims are good people. This is a Pew
Research. So keep being a good person, keep making your contribution to this country,
keep trying to educate yourself and improve your mind and the quality of your life, keep
trying to give your children a better life than the life you found, keep doing the good
things. (Says something in Arabic). And remain mindful of God, his commandments and
prohibitions. (Says something in Arabic). Be mindful of God wherever you are. As some
scholars say (says something in Arabic), and based on that opinion, wherever you are and
in whatever situation you find yourself in, whenever or wherever, whenever or wherever.
(Says something in Arabic). Just try to please God. Wherever you are, whatever the time
is. (Says something in Arabic). And any misdeeds you do, follow it up with a good deed
which is weightier and will wipe it out. (Says something in Arabic) (inaudible), that’s
what affects hearts. (inaudible) people with good character, be honest with your dealings,
have integrity, fulfill your oaths and contracts, assist the weak, help the poor. (Says
something in Arabic). There’s a beautiful story—two stories—I would like to tell you.
These are all post-Fort Hood. The first I was in Dallas, Texas this weekend, which is not
too far from Fort Hood. The day after the shootings there, I visited a Muslim school, in
ironically, Irvin Texas—right next to the TFW airport. The school has a catering service
who aren’t Muslims who bring the lunches for the kids, the children in the school. The
day after the Fort Hood shootings, one of the drivers was a lady. Her co-workers told her,
“Don’t go there, there’s going to be trouble.” She said, “I’m going. I go every other day. I
know these people, they’re good people.” And so she went and when she got there she
was in tears. She said to the principal, “People told me not to come here, and I said I’m
coming anyway because you’re good people, and I don’t know why people are saying all
these terrible things about you.” Second story, also in Dallas, a friend of mine has a
kosher meat store and things were slow. There were a lot of hamburgers left over. Some
of you are longing for a hamburger right now, Burger King. See I can say that because I
had dinner before. He said, “You know what, I’m going to give these to my neighbors.”
So he took the hamburgers home and the first house he went to with a box of frozen
hamburgers, he knocked on the door—not a Muslim man—and he opened the door and
said, “Here’s some hamburgers I have from my business.” The man started crying. He
said, “I was laid off.” He didn’t have any food. He was a single father. “My boy doesn’t
have any food. I just made a prayer, I picked up my bible and made a prayer that God
would help me. My Muslim neighbor is the one who answered my prayer.” The man was
in tears. The man was in tears. A third story, this is—the title was Fort Hood—one of the
people—this was in the New York Times the week after the shooting. I forget the man’s
name but you can google it. If your not a Muslim you can consult Professor Google, if
you are a Muslim you can consult Sheikh Google. He knows everything. And you’ll find
it. One individual shot in the back three times on that terrible day. That was on Friday,
Thursday, was it Thursday or Friday? Thursday? Thursday, it was a Thursday. He had his
wounds treated, he drove from Fort Hood, Texas to Alabama and he delivered a sermon
at this church that Sunday. Three days later. And in that sermon he said, “I want you all
to pray for the shooter, and pray for his family. He had a bad day.” This man had three
bullets in his back. That spirit is the spirit that will move this country forward. That spirit
isn't defined by the members of a particular religion, a particular race or ethnicity. That’s
a human spirit. That’s a human greatness. That’s the stuff that makes for great human
beings. And those people are found in all faiths. Our challenge as a society, in this time
when we are more diverse than ever, this time when to a large degree we are more
polarized than ever, is to respectively search our souls and try to discover and tap into
that spirit. To reach out to our fellow citizens and try to get beyond the violence that
threatens us all. If we can do that, we will be a great nation. If we can do that we will be a
nation that leads by example, not by slogans, not by force. By example. So we pray that
each and every one of us gathered here tonight that we can do that. All of us. We pray
that we can all break, or free from the shackles that sometimes restrain us from doing
what we know is the right thing. We pray that we can all transcend whatever it is in our
past that pulls us a part to try to build a collective future. God willing we can do that. If
we can do that and dedicate our lives to that, at the end of the day, and all of us will see
the end of the day, some of us sooner than others, but inevitably every one of us is
heading to an appointment with death. When that time comes we can look back over our
lives and say, “That was a life worth living.” (Says something in Arabic) (applause)

Question and Answer:
Couldn’t understand the Students questions

				
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