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Letter: Name calling

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I once knew a man who thought he was a poodle. He believed this because, as he says: he’s a mammal, a terrestrial mammal, a domesticated terrestrial mammal at that. I had to explain to him that it takes a lot more than just having some characteristics in common with a poodle, to actually qualify as being a poodle.

So just because he says he’s a poodle and actually displays some poodle-like characteristics, doesn’t actually make him one.

I met a man once and he claimed to be Irish. He was born, grew up and lived in Ireland, he spoke just like me, with an Irish accent. He planted bombs in shopping malls and blew innocent men, women and children to bits because he believed this was how you set Ireland free.

Just because he has some Irish characteristics — birthright, upbringing, accent — doesn’t make him an Irishman. No one, no text, defines “Irish” as slaughtering innocent people as one of the characteristics of being Irish. That man has a long way to go to deserve to be called a true Irishman. He is not worthy of that name and not only do I refuse to call him Irish, I resent him and others who use that label to describe him. He must not be allowed to hi-jack my background.

I met a man once here in the U.S. who said he was a Christian. He went to church at least once a week, he said grace before meals, he carried his Bible everywhere with him. He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He supported the use of violence to make this world, as he put it, “a better place.”

He may think he’s a Christian, but he’s not. He does not deserve to use that word to describe himself, for no one, and no source would ever describe a Christian as one who would use violence to physically suppress and intimidate a particular race. I refuse to refer to this man as a Christian and I know many, many Christians who are upset when members of the Ku Klux Klan are described as “Christians.”

The brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, the perpetrators of the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, say they are Muslims. They are not Muslims. They have a long way to go to be worthy of being called a Muslim.

“What matters in life? To show dignified behavior under circumstances that suggest the opposite.”

So no, I refuse to refer to these people as Muslims, or Islamic. They will call themselves Muslims, but just because you pray kneeling down; you don’t eat pork, you read the Koran, and you scream Allah Akbar just before you kill innocent people for having the audacity to disagree with you, does not make you a Muslim.

We all need to stop referring to these terrorists as Muslim or Islamic fundamentalists. You see, they like it when we do that;  it legitimizes their view of themselves, as Muslims. We need to fight back with some sort of dignified gesture. We can start by not using the words Muslim or Islamic to refer to these terrorists, and by correcting others who do.

Brian O’Nuanain

Bossier City, LA