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Response to the “Murdered by Muslim Terrorists” Plaque

Peter Gadiel

Peter Gadiel

On September 11th of 2001, nineteen Al-Qaeda affiliated hijackers coordinated a series of horrific suicide attacks, killing almost three thousand innocent men, women, and children.  What motivated these young men to throw away their lives–and take away the lives of others–was a deep-seated and overwhelming hatred towards America.

The 9/11 attacks brought out the best–and at times the worst–in Americans.  Whilst certainly the desire to help out victims and their families reflected the best, there were other parts of society who co-opted the situation for their own nefarious hate-mongering purposes.  For Islamophobes, it became the casus belli against Islam and Muslims in general.  And so, in a horrible irony, the hatred of Al-Qaeda–of Muslim extremists–was internalized by some.  It is a truism–as trite as it sounds–that hate begets hate.

The rhetoric of the Islamophobes mirrors that of the Islamic extremists.  One merely needs to take out the word “Muslim” and substitute it for “Christian” and “Allah” with “Jesus.”  If one listens to the justifications Al-Qaeda gave for 9/11, they are remarkably similar to the justifications given by the Islamophobes to justify the excesses and casualties of aggressive wars.

It is unfortunate that many good meaning Americans may have been influenced by these Islamophobes.  Most impressionable and vulnerable to the hate-mongering are those directly affected by the Islamic extremists.  Nobody could be affected more by Al-Qaeda than the families of the 9/11 victims.  People often get emotional, and it is easy to substitute rage for rationality.  There is a desire to lash out at the other.  Simplistic answers seem comforting.

Peter Gadiel, a resident of Kent, Connecticut, suffered the loss of his son, who died in the horrific 9/11 attacks.  We here at LoonWatch extend our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Gadiel.  Furthermore, we understand that he is going through a difficult time, coping with the loss of a child, something that no parent should ever go through.  However, we urge Mr. Gadiel not to react to the hatred that killed his son with bigotry.

FoxNews reports:

KENT, Conn. — Peter Gadiel wants everyone to remember his son, James, who was killed during the September 11 terrorist attacks.

And he also wants people to remember how he died: “Murdered by Muslim terrorists.”

For Gadiel, any tribute to his son would be woefully incomplete without those words.

“I think it’s important, because I think there’s a nationwide effort to suppress the identity of the people who were involved in the attacks,” Gadiel told Fox News.

Eight years ago, 23-year-old James Gadiel worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center. He died when a hijacked plane crashed into the North Tower.

For years, Gadiel’s hometown of Kent, Conn., has wanted to honor the young man with a memorial plaque next to its town hall. But the tribute has hit a snag because James’ father wants to include the phrase, “Murdered by Muslim terrorists,” under his son’s name.

For Peter Gadiel, it is a central fact of the Sept. 11 attacks that is often left out.

“It isn’t just overlooked, it’s suppressed,” Gadiel said. “It’s simply wrong to imply that people just died. The buildings didn’t just collapse, they didn’t just fall down — they were attacked by people with a specific identity, a specific purpose.”

Town officials call the phrase too controversial for a small town memorial, and they recently voted against erecting the plaque if Gadiel insists on the language.

“We perceive ourselves as a very warm, loving town,” said Ruth Epstein, a Kent selectman and one of two town leaders to vote the plaque down. “To disparage any one ethnic group is just against everything that we stand for here.”

Epstein noted that other Sept. 11 memorials, like the one at the Pentagon, don’t mention Muslim terrorists, and she said she does not want to alienate any members of her small and close-knit community.

“We have at least one Muslim family living here with children and it — it would be just awful to have them see something like that,” Epstein told Fox News.

But for Gadiel, it’s an important message that he insists be present on any tribute to his son.

“Muslims have to acknowledge that it was their co-religionists who committed this act in their name,” he said. “I am offended that unlike so many others, they refuse to acknowledge that it was their people who did this.”

This would be a dangerous precedent.  Should the memorial plaques in honor of the Native Americans read “Murdered by White Christian Genocidal Butchers?” According to IraqBodyCount.org, over a 100,000 Iraqi civilians–including men, women, and children–have died due to the war.  Should the graves of the dead be emblazoned with “Murdered by Christian Crusaders?”  Hundreds of civilians died in Gaza due to Israel’s obscene offensive; should memorials be raised to honor them with the words “Murdered by Jewish Terrorists?”

The Islamophobes might ask “weren’t the 9/11 hijackers Muslims and terrorists, so what is wrong with having the plaque say exactly that?”  Well, on this line of reasoning, what’s wrong with erecting memorial plaques for white suburban kids “Murdered by Urban Blacks?”  Or if a Jew killed anyone, then plaques boldly saying that “Jews Murdered This Man.”  Maybe we should start identifying every race or religion in this manner?

The truth is that if all people did this, then there would be no religion–and no ethnic group–that would be left without “blood on their hands.” Luckily, most human beings agree with the principle enunciated in the ancient scriptures that, ‘there is no collective guilt.’ In the Quran it states, “Every soul earns only to its own account; no laden soul bears the sins of another” (6:164) and in the Bible: “Each is to die for his own sin.” (Deut. 24:16).

The phraseology chosen by Mr. Gadiel seems to associate the sin of the 9/11 attacks to all of the Muslims.  Any sensible person can see that, which is why the officials refused to include such an offensive and inflammatory inscription.  Ruth Epstein, one of Kent’s town leaders, said quite correctly: “To disparage any one ethnic group is just against everything we stand for here.”  In fact, it is exactly what the Al-Qaeda hijackers stood–and died–for.

Mr. Gadiel said: “Muslims have to acknowledge that it was their co-religionists who committed this act in their name. I am offended that unlike so many others, they refuse to acknowledge that it was their people who did this.”

The way he phrased the statement tells us a lot about Mr. Gadiel’s frame of mind.  It’s as if he sees Muslims as one monolithic group, as if Muslims are the Borg, with one master leader who makes all the decisions.  So somehow, in his mind, he sees all Muslims as collectively denying that they had anything to do with the attacks.  Even that idea–that somehow ‘they’ are involved because their co-religionists were involved–is certainly questionable.

And he’s just quite frankly wrong about this; all of the major Muslim organizations condemned Al-Qaeda (an Islamic extremist group) for what they did on 9/11.  Is that not acknowledging who did it? It is often erroneously claimed by some that Muslims have remained silent about 9/11 or terrorism in general.  Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.  The major Muslim organizations have issued statement after statement about their abhorrence of terrorism and condemnation of 9/11 in specific.  It is to the point of exhaustion.  Here is one non-exhaustive list of condemnations of 9/11 and terrorism, from the major Islamic organizations.

Many Muslims would argue that while they have bent over backwards to condemn the 9/11 attacks ad nauseum, few non-Muslim Americans have recognized the deaths of millions of Muslim civilians who have died as the result of interventionist policies, those that are in fact fueled by the same type of hatred that brought down the World Trade Center.  Would Mr. Gadiel like to admit that “his people” did that, or would he simply “refuse to acknowledge” it?  In Kent, there is a Mr. Gadiel mourning the loss of his son, who died at the hands of the Islamic extremist group Al-Qaeda.  In Kirkuk, there is a Mr. Gamal mourning the loss of his daughter, who died at the hands of the Christian extremist group Blackwater.

Of course, the dead of America have one advantage over the dead of Iraq.  The former have names and faces, whereas the latter are left by the mainstream media as nameless and faceless.  The former are recognized in memorial services and plaques (as they should be), whereas the latter are forgotten in the rubble that they died under.  One sees this double standard in the media quite clearly: the lives of those who died in 9/11 are covered in detail in order to personalize them (as should be done), whereas the death of Iraqis–of “Mooslims”–is just a meaningless statistic.

As for the phrase “their people” that Mr. Gadiel employed, that is questionable as well, since many Muslims in this country–nay, most–see themselves as Americans, so they are “our people.”  Our people and part of the pluralistic country we live in.  LoonWatch.com condemns all forms of bigotry and hatred.  We do not agree with the binary world view, the ‘us vs them’ mentality that fuels this holy war between Judeo-Christianity and Islam.  Yes Mr. Gadiel, a group of extremists killed your son, but do not let them kill American values: our pluralistic tradition that embraces people of all races and religions.

Mr. Gadiel, your son died.  Do not co-opt his death to spread hatred.  Use his death to spread love, compassion, and understanding–values that you no doubt preached to your son when he was alive.  Al-Qaeda wants you to hate Muslims in general.  What they don’t want is for you to embrace Muslims as brothers in humanity.

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  • Mehdi

    Oh yes, it is

  • Morocco was the first country to acknowledge the US as a country. Imagine that.

  • “I honestly don’t see how this isn’t cut and dry.”

    Legally this could be, and probably is more of a public safety issue as well as a freedom of speech issue, as well as the appropriation of public funds for a religious statement (in light of his rejection of AlQaeda on the memorial and insistence on religious targeting could this be hate-speech instead?)

    And if another technicality were to be observed, one that is equally important to those singled out, the designation of a mukital harbibah (one who fights illegitimate battle) is non-muslim without the repentance of hudud (criminal punishment by death – without the chance – as they have perished they have no chance for redemption). There is also the instance of suicide being used in an offensive battle… with the one falling on the knife also falling into the hellfire.

    So are they muslim? The very application of the legal theory of the faith would call this designation into question. This man says yes, some scholars say no. Who decides religious designation in a country where “congress shall make no law…”

    The fighting of a tyrant in open battle while AVOIDING the innocent CAN fall under a different ruling, with legal conditions, but the targeting of “soft targets”, such as Osama is claimed to have done (though the US has refused evidence) and the CIA in documentation admit that they did in Nicaragua is prohibited in Islam and prior to the cold war, was also disallowed under US law. So are they terrorists or freedom fighters?

    I would also find it offensive for it to say anti-democratic apostate freedom fighters.

    Technically if the US did what AlQaeda has said to have done, under The removal of such laws in writing by US law with the Boland Amendment complicate the matter of “and thus unto them”, the human idea of justice – of reciprocal contractual actions between nations and persons – (without deference to International law which says otherwise), and could be said to justify such actions (though in no way opens legality to the actions taken by either group mentioned under International law)…. thus putting my statements above in a theological and legal limbo that those with more knowledge of truthful events than I would have to decide.

    I hope that you see here that the point I am making is that of the complexity of the true issue, and that a public proclamation of one man’s views on the muslim community, no matter how well intended, is damaging to a larger number, and may even lead to the justification (also subject to interpretation of appropriateness) of violence against muslims in retaliation in the hearts and minds of others.

    I am also pretty sure that the city council is smart enough to avoid a costly (even if won) lawsuit and wishes the security and well being of ALL of its citizens.

    Everyone loves freedom of speech, but not the freedom to be held responsible for the consequences. This man is in pain, and thus it is quite appropriate for him to feel the way he does, but the actions based on those feelings must also be appropriate.

    Would the continuing of escalating animosity truly help this man and his family with the pain they feel?

    You may see my assessment as to justify one side or the other. That is not my intent. I am merely laying out the complexity of the facts as they are. I in fact condemn both violations of Shariah and International law, and condemn both the 9-11 atrocity against human life and those same actions taken in the name of anti-Communism in South America. I am just pointing out that this matter is not just one of stating what on the surface seems obvious, for it is not, and if you think I sound confusing… wait till lawyers on both sides of the argument get a hold of it…

    Probably the real reason for the city council deciding the way they did, was to decide on the side of fairness and pragmatic application of law to deter further problems.

    I hold no animosity to this man’s wants. He is probably (most likely) supported by those who feel the same anger he does without even the justification for it that this man is entitled.

    I know what i speak of when I say that losing a child can bring emotions to mind that go contrary to the normal spirit of a man. I sincerely hope that this man can get past the blame stage of his grief and come to acceptance and possible even rise higher to heal.

    So clear cut and dry… no. The ones who hit the trade towers thought so, and so did Reagan. Let us not fall into that folly ourselves. Everyone wants the simple solution, especially those that wish to take advantage of this want for their own needs.

    I would be very agreeable to the statement that names the persons who killed him, and even stating that they did so in the name of their faith.

    “The prophet said to go into battle in your own name, a repudiation of the idea of holy war, but an acknowledgement of the human condition and the need to fight when need be”

  • Abdullah

    I’m really tired of this shit. People are being led like sheep and any country in the world can be invaded under the “guise” of combatting terrorism.

    Google “Operation Northwoods” and see what this government planned in the 60’s. I will never believe that this was either a surprise or allowed to happen, or even done by this government itself, must look at the who’s who in ‘Iraq of OIL Corps. Iron melted but a passport was found intact….ofcourse it was. And people can light me up all you want. I could care less. I’m not a sheep, maybe some like to bahhhhhhhh. NOT ME

  • Correct me if I am wrong but did not George Bush and Tony Blair both say after the war they felt they where guided by God? Exactly what Bin laden thought about 9/11, All the troops may not be Christians but their commander in chief was and he cited his faith as a cause for war.
    If one reads into the crusades the vast majority of those who went to fight did so only for the promise of land and wealth, only the elite went to fight for religion. Much the same as today!

  • Argon

    I honestly don’t see how this isn’t cut and dry. Terrorists who happened to be Muslim murdered the son on 9/11. The epitaph is true. It’s not like the epitaph said “Murdered by Muslims, who cares which ones, they’re all the same and should die,” it was not opinion, it was fact. If it can be proven, and I’m sure it could be, that a particular native was murdered by an individual or group of white christian bigots, the epitaph could include that fact.

    I don’t know why it would be insensitive to Muslim-Americans. Aren’t Muslim terrorist the enemy of all moderate Muslims as surely as they are the enemy of all Americans. They certainly kill a lot of other Muslims in the many indiscriminate bombings in the Middle East.

  • sock-puppet

    Hey, ‘Name’,

    Will that be the same ‘Fiqh Council of North America’ that were implicated in the HLF trial (largest terrorist-funding trial in US history) and whose key trustee, Abdurrahman Alamoudi, is currently serving 23 years on a terrorism-funding rap? Are they the same guys you’re talking about? Just want to be clear here.

  • Jeff

    iSherif, Brian, James, Schlaftius, thank you for your responses and insights. I am currently composing a letter-to-the-editor for our local news paper in order to get this reality into the public. Your replies will be helpful in this process.

    Billy, thank you for the suggestions… but I will stick by my FACTS. I will continue to wave the American flag, as I always have, and carry my Quar’an in the other hand. Morocco is one of the places I plan on traveling to soon, I hope to see you there.

    ~The Pragmatic Patriot

  • iSherif

    Oh just give it a break billy…you’re just a big sad FAIL and all of your lies about every Muslim being a terrorist have been exposed one by one. The only thing that’s really up for debate now is your IQ son, since your ridiculous babble is taking stupidity to new levels and it’s kinda worrying. My friend, tragic bigots like you are pathetic and few….

  • billy

    Jeff — WAKE UP !! support your wise nieghbor, not the Muslim terrorists.
    Your “facts” are inaccurate, & terrorist – seriving.

    time to put down your ‘koran” bro, & wave the American flag — or move to morocco.

  • billy

    HOOORAY FOR THIS GUY FOR TELLING IT LIKE IT IS !!

    Too bad he had to lose his son…. to the MUSLIM TERRORISTS !

    Since 1981 EVERY American, civilian or miltary, that has been killed by a terrorist — guess what ? THEY ARE ALL MUSLIMS !! hmmmmmm… pattern ?

    2 types of muslims — those who are open & spewing terrorists & those who hide it, so they can kill us some day, when we ar not looking.

    negative reality.

  • Brian

    did know that Schlaftius…very nice info

  • Schlaftius

    Hubert,

    McVeigh, throughout his childhood, he and his father were Roman Catholics and often attended daily Mass. In a recorded interview with Time magazine[14] McVeigh professed his belief in “a God”, although he said he had “sort of lost touch with” Catholicism and “I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs. He maintained Christian Core beliefs, which could be interpreted as violence. He was not an atheist, more of an agnostic. He never left Christianity or was an atheist, so my point was accurate.

  • James

    Great post Jeff. I wish there were more people like you in this world.

  • Brian

    No, the Freedom of Speech issue ends as soon as he tries to post this sign up on the community owned property…Thats why this issue is a non issue… He can put that sign up and vandalize his house all he wants, but the town has the right to vote that down which they did. And keep in mind folks, this isnt his sons tombstone, this is a memorial. Also, he rejected the offer made by the city to put on there “Murdered by Al-Qaeda” which tells me that the word Muslim is something he really wanted to get across to people, showing signs of hate…thats just my personal opinion tho

  • iSherif

    Thanks Jeff…if all the world were made up of Jeffs like yourself, am pretty sure this world would be a better world… 🙂

  • Jeff

    I live in one of the neighboring towns to where this plaque will be posted, I know the families that will be affected by this, in fact, I go to school with them, and I say that this proposed wording is an outrage.

    Raised in a “Christian” family I would be outraged if a plaque for the Oklahoma City Bombing read “Killed by a Christian terrorist” as he did not represent the Christian society. Just as any Muslim will feel if Mr. Gadiel gets his way.

    My brothers and I are avid travels and have lived on nearly every continent for some period of time. On that day it could have been one of us on one of those planes and it struck my family hard. I supported the removal of Al-Qaeda but quickly got angered by the shift of focus to the culture and not the culprit. I feel deeply for Mr. Gadiel and his loss, many people I know had a family member killed in the attacks. But I do not take this as reason to persecute the Muslim culture.

    My eldest brother recently lived in Morocco (an exceptionally Muslim country). Not having experienced that culture myself I was immediately fascinated by its richness. On his return my brother brought me a copy of the Qur’an (Koran) which I have been reading cover to cover since. One of the many facts that I have learned from it is that the men who’s faces we all saw plastered on out televisions were actually not Muslim. The Qur’an strictly forbids the act of killing or even contemplating murder. The only exception to this is if a man has entered your home and threatened your family. These men violated that law well ahead of time and therefor fell into a very small group of people known as Al-Qaeda, no longer fitting the description of Muslim.

    That is my factual proof that this plaque needs to be re-worded. As to any lawful evidence I am currently research if Mr. Gadiel’s wording would violate and laws Constitutional or otherwise. Although he does have the right to Freedom of Speech, that right only holds until it is used to violate someone else’s rights. It is my impression that this wording may violate the Freedom of Religion of the Muslim peoples residing in Kent and the surrounding area. I am currently researching more into this and I will write back with any updates.

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