America is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, so why do I worry when an extremely brave young woman who came to America to be free tells me she is Muslim?
"The Taliban is one thing," I thought to myself. "Wait until you meet some of our loose nuts."
Nargis Qureashy is an Afghan who worked for our troops as a translator in Kabul for five years. I wrote about her journey to America elsewhere in today's paper. It's a great story, classic "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" stuff.
She fought religious tyranny to get an education, risked her life to help American soldiers, and wants to use those same guts and determination to build a new life.
But being Muslim in America these days is like being "red" in the 1950s.
The McCarthy era was not a proud one in American history. Anyone with Communist connections -- friends, relatives or just the wrong magazine subscription -- could be vilified, or worse.
Now "Muslim" is the epithet. The scare machine has been grinding out hate since 9-11: All Muslims are taught to kill Americans; they hate us "because we are free;" they think they'll go to heaven if they kill us.
The drumbeat has made a mark. Anyone who wears a shawl or turban and has brown skin is looked at suspiciously.
Is it as bad as McCarthyism? We're getting there.
Last week U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn. and four other irresponsible congresspeople sent letters to several federal security agencies asking them to investigate Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter said Abedin, who is Muslim, has family that is somehow connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and may be influencing American policy to help it.
What rot. The Brotherhood does advocate religious rule and just won the Egyptian presidential elections, but Abedin's connection is pretty distant, if it exists at all.
And anyway Abedin, born in America, has worked with Clinton since she was elected to the U.S. Senate. Nobody has presented one iota of evidence that she has ever done anything unpatriotic.
In response to Bachmann's letter, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., showing his good and true colors for a change, told Bachmann and her pals to stuff it. "These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit. And they need to stop now."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has called the charges dangerous and others are chiming in, but Bachmann and her ilk won't stop. They know there's an audience for their lies.
Which brings us back to Nargis. She wears a scarf, has brown skin and was brought up Muslim.
When we were done talking about her five years risking her life and the lives of her family, to work for American soldiers, I asked "Is there anything you'd like to tell my readers?"
She knows, she said, that a lot of Americans are "thinking about the Muslim, that they are all bad.
"But it's not like that. I want everybody to read the article (to know) that not all Muslims are like this. Our Holy Koran does not say this. They should not think that all Muslims are bad.
"All the Afghan people want to live in peace, to have fond relations with the other countries, even if they're Muslim or not Muslim. We are friendly people."
Nargis is brave. She came to America to be free.
She should fit right in, but when people like Bachmann spread hate and fear for their own political ends, I worry.
The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232, or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.