In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful
Last night, I attended the 2012 annual banquet for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. It was a wonderful event, featuring many important guests, including Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who was awarded for his work on immigration and social justice. One of the highlights of the evening was an address by Chicago Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy.
Recently, in the wake of the NYPD spying scandal, Superintendant McCarthy was asked to comment about his knowledge or involvement in this operation. He denied any knowledge, and he met with Chicago leaders in regards to this incident. And he graciously accepted the invitation to attend the dinner. His remarks were very reassuring:
We are focused on our mission of making Chicago the safest city for every resident in every neighborhood, but we can't do it alone. We must have a positive relationship with the wonderfully diverse communities that comprise Chicago and that make this great country of America as strong as it is today.
The most powerful thing he said, though, was when he shared a personal story: that he was a survivor of the horrific attack on 9/11. Moreover, he lost 13 personal friends, police officers, on that terrible day. Yet, I was amazed when he said this:
In the 10-plus years since that horrific event, which has affected me to my core, I have never once thought ill of the religion of Islam.
I, along with most in the room, gave him a standing ovation after his remarks. In a time when so many people use 9/11 as justification for the slander of Muslims, attack on Islam, the marginalization of Muslims for the crimes of the few, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Superintendant. Yes, he may be rightly criticized for this or that policy. But, at least, I give him enormous credit for not letting the terrible events of 9/11 color his view of all Muslims. Would that more in our country would do the same.