As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have watched with increasing alarm the rise of anti-Islamic rhetoric within the U.S. We've seen attacks on Muslim citizens, intolerance toward religious expression, and even threats of book burning. All this goes against the values we risked our lives to protect.
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We have served beside Muslim soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, as well Muslim translators, who risked their own lives and the lives of their families to help us. For the servicemembers currently deployed, the success of their mission and the safety of their lives depends on a basic respect for, and interaction with, Islamic culture.
Those who would vilify and target Muslims on grounds of their religious belief not only show a deep disrespect for American values, but put American lives at risk. It's easy to burn a Koran when you won't feel the heat.
We speak as infantrymen, truck drivers, medics, artillerymen, supply sergeants, and civil and public affairs officers, professions whose success depends on good relations with a deeply religious Muslim population. That population sees the American flag we wear on our uniform and judges us, not only by our actions but on the values our citizens uphold. We must be able to point back home to the values we represent. Chief among those values is our courage as a nation to peacefully and openly engage with differences of culture and religion.
What is a squad leader in Kandahar supposed to say to an Afghan woman who asks him why we want to burn her holy book?
When citizens here participate in hateful rhetoric and intolerance toward Muslims, it leaves soldiers over there exposed.
America, you gotta have our back.
Roy Scranton, US Army Artillery, Iraq
Philip Klay, USMC Public Affairs Officer, Iraq
Perry O'Brien, US Army Medic (Airborne), Afghanistan
James Redden Jr., USAR Journalist, Iraq
Joshua Casteel, US Army Linguist, Iraq
Logan Mehl-Laituri, US Army Forward Observer, Iraq
Hart Viges, Army, Infantry (Airborne), Iraq
Jason M Wallace, US Air Force Maintenance, Kuwait
Chantelle Bateman, USMC Supply, Iraq
Geoffrey Millard, US Army Infantry, Iraq
Nicholas Przybyla, US Navy Cameraman, Pakistan Coast
John McClelland, US Army Medic (Ranger), Afghanistan and Iraq
Andrew Johnson, US Army Radar Technician, Iraq
Daniel Paulsen, US Army Medic (Airborne), Afghanistan
Fernando Braga, US Army Supply, Iraq
Maggie Martin, US Army Signal, Iraq
Adam Kokesh, USMC Civil Affairs, Iraq
Lisa Zepeda, US Army Lab Technician, Iraq
Brian Turner, US Army Infantry, Iraq
Matt Gallagher, US Army Cavalry Officer, Iraq
Michael Anthony Ruehrwein, US Army OR Tech, Iraq
Erika Sjolander, US Army Supply, Iraq
Bryan Reinholdt, US Army Apache Maintenance, Iraq
Jason Chambers, US Air Force Air Freight Specialist, Iraq
Joe Wheeler, US Army Surgical Assistant, Iraq
Ash Woolson, US Army Combat Engineer, Iraq
Chris Hellie, US Army Cavalry Officer, Iraq
Sara Beining, US Army Intelligence Analyst, Iraq
Helen Gerhardt, US Army Transport, Iraq
Garett Reppenhagen, US Army Cavalry Scout, Iraq
Monday, September 13, 2010
America: You Gotta Have Our Back
Reposted from The Huffington Post: