In Oslo, a few weeks ago, a group of Moslems made a ring of protection around a synagogue. When Islamic terrorists attacked a kosher grocery in Paris resulting in a number of deaths, a Moslem worker, Lassana Bathily, herded some of the Jewish customers into the store’s freezer, saving their lives. In doing so, he drew a neon target on his own back.
There are times and places where staying in the background doesn’t work. Times when each of us has to actively stand for what we believe. Times when ‘don’t discuss religion or politics’ is a cowardly evasion rather than a way to get through a dinner party politely. During these times, a piece of ancient Jewish wisdom that says, “Silence resembles agreement,’ rings true.
I recently read a book about a German Luftwaffe pilot who, in a moment of heroism, saved the life of a British RAF pilot by escorting him to safety. This was an act of treason to Germany. Until that moment, the book suggests that the pilot and his family didn’t support Hitler, but they also saw no connection between the pilot’s personal military career and the Nazi Party. Historically, the Luftwaffe had many leaders who were anti-Nazi. Whatever their personal convictions, by flying as they did, they strengthened HItler and the Nazi Party.
Refusing to do their duty would have had serious repercussions. They would have been lucky to lose only their careers; more likely imprisonment along with the potential of torture and death would have followed. Their families’ lives would also have been endangered. Yet, history would have changed and millions would be alive today if the Luftwaffe had rebelled en masse.
Such a crisis is facing Moslems today. Disapproving of radical Islamic terrorism in privacy or when among like-minded friends equals silence. Speaking up publicly places a noose around one’s neck, and more scarily, around the neck of one’s family especially if they still live in Jihadist controlled areas.
It is easy to see other people’s challenges; it is harder to see our own. Jews and Christians are also having to make uncomfortable choices today. As the homosexual movement morphs into a dictatorship wanting to suppress freedom of expression and religion, it is not enough to say, “love the sinner,” or “government should stay out of people’s bedrooms.” As college campuses increasingly become breeding grounds for pro-Islamic groups, do we tell our children to keep their heads down or to risk not only condemnation but also assault? Only a few years ago, Jews could be both pro-Israel and vote Democrat. Doing so today takes a decision to ignore reality and suspend rational judgment. You might be allied with the New York Times and academia in telling yourself that there is a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, but it is increasingly clear that in today’s climate, that simply is false.
Being faithful to God today increasingly means failing liberalism’s religious test. Being faithful to tradition can mean imperiling your livelihood and facing false accusations of bigotry, racism and other ‘isms.’ In Paris, Lassana Bathily could have stepped aside and shielded himself. Instead, he made a heroic and Godly choice. Anyone who pats himself on the back sure that he would do the same, should be able to point to less extreme but significantly uncomfortable times when he has exercised the same principled muscle.