First, a musical interlude in the form of a snippet from the song “Pore Jud is Daid” from the musical Oklahoma! as the hero, Curly, urges Jud, the villain, to imagine what things would be like at his funeral with this mock eulogy:
He loved the birds of the forest
And the beasts of the fields
He loved the mice and the vermin in the barn
And he treated the rats like equals (which was right)
He loved all the little children
He loved everything and everybody in the world
Only . . . only he never let on
And nobody ever knowed it
Now a quotation from an article by reporter Youssef Ibrahim in The New York Sun:
Yes, world, there is a silent Arab majority that believes that seventh-century Islam is not fit for 21st-century challenges. That women do not have to look like walking black tents. That men do not have to wear beards and robes, act like lunatics, and run around blowing themselves up in order to enjoy 72 virgins in paradise. And that secular laws, not Islamic Shariah, should rule our day-to-day lives.
And yes, we, the silent Arab majority, do not believe that writers, secular or otherwise, should be killed or banned for expressing their views. Or that the rest of our creative elite – from moviemakers to playwrights, actors, painters, sculptors, and fashion models – should be vetted by Neanderthal Muslim imams who have never read a book in their dim, miserable lives.
Nor do we believe that little men with head wraps and disheveled beards can run amok in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq making decisions on our behalf, dragging us to war whenever they please, confiscating our rights to be adults, and flogging us for not praying five times a day or even for not believing in God.
Ibrahim continues by pointing to the condemnation of Hezbollah by Arab heads of state and foreign ministers at the recent meeting of the Arab League.
I believe that what Ibrahim writes is true with all my heart.
But this is important. This is critical. The “silent Arab majority” must “let on”. Otherwise we here in the West will never know. Those who do speak will be taken as speaking for all.
It may not be fair but it’s the way things are. We can’t know what’s in their hearts any more than they can know what’s in ours. But we will hear what’s on the lips of whoever speaks out.