Artichokes in My Garden -- The Garden is a peaceful place to be.

We've always had terrorists and likely they will always will remain among us and sadly we won’t always see them coming.

This does not mean that we need to give up our efforts to make things better.  Yet, more and more I find that I avoid discussions of emotional political topics.  As of late, I can only be drawn into them if desperate and tragic events happen literally in my neighborhood. Then I will speak up.

 It’s a sad fact but suicide bombers and mass killings are not new on the American scene. Nor were they brought to our shores by terrorists proclaiming the Muslim faith. [In other words, everything was not just fine over here in the USA  and then the Muslims arrived.]

For one example:  On May 18, 1927, a part-time caretaker at a school in Bath, Michigan, killed 45 people, including 38 children, when he blew up a school and then killed himself, along with two first responders at the scene. Another 58 people were wounded.  The 38 children were in grades three through six.   Andrew Kehoe, spent months placing explosives inside the school. He used his job as a handyman to wire together two types of explosives, in an elaborate plan to bring down the building while it was occupied with students and teachers.

Kehoe also rigged his car with explosives and shrapnel, as well as his house.  Investigators later found more than 500 pounds of unexploded dynamite under the school. Kehoe had intended to kill hundreds of people, mostly students, but thank goodness his wiring was faulty.

Kehoe was mad at the government regarding taxes.  Perhaps in his twisted mind he thought that by getting rid of students he would not have to pay taxes. Who knows?


Reasons given by Terrorists  for their crimes against humanity have no substantial basis in reality because reality is not where these people live.

By the time these people commit their acts of violence it doesn’t matter the excuse they give for their behavior—whether it is the government, voices in their heads that tell them to do this, or their own twisted interpretations of ancient religious texts.

People who willfully commit murder are people who are mentally unhinged and obviously by virtue of their actions must feel like they have nothing left to lose.  It’s too bad that more of them cannot obtain counseling or perhaps even a hand up or a word of kindness to bring them back from the brink before they become so angry and alienated from the rest of us that they want to kill us all.  Too bad they apparently feel so shut out.  Our only hope at prevention of terrorist acts is intervention at an early point in the downward spiral of these individuals.  And, unfortunately, this is extremely difficult in many cases.

I haven’t read of any solution, but perhaps a starting point would be to not imply the sphere of influence of any terrorist is broader than it actually is and to jump to the conclusion that members of isolated fringe groups speak for the larger religious bodies they claim to represent—whether Muslim or Christian or Hindu or Jews or even atheists.  They don’t.  Thus don't give terrorist more breadth of influence than they actually have.


Here are two facts that I hope my neighbors will remember and check out for themselves from my recent writings and research:

1) Research indicates the Majority of Muslims do not support attacks on civilians

A 2013 Pew Research Center poll asked Muslims around the world whether attacks on civilians were justified. Globally 72% of Muslims said violence against civilians is never justified, and in the US, 81% of Muslims said such violence against civilians is never justified.

John Esposito using poll data from Gallup, wrote in 2008 that Muslims and Americans were equally likely to reject violence against civilians. He also found that those Muslims who support violence against civilians are no more religious than Muslims who do not.

2) In particular, it's highly unlikely the majority of 1.57 billion Muslims support ISIS

Saying that all Muslims support ISIS or other Islamic terrorist groups is comparable to saying that 2 billion Christians will join Christian fundamentalist groups who declare a doomsday and drive out into the desert with them to wait for the Second Coming, or to say that 2 billion Christians will participate in snake handling rituals.  It’s not happening.  Any given religion has many different expressions, focuses and resulting fringe groups.

ISIS, a Muslim fringe terrorist group, even murders other Muslims and as I understand from others, brags about it on their websites.  Of the total Muslim population, 10-13% are Shia Muslims and 87-90% are Sunni Muslims.  According to ISIS, the Shia must be exterminated (approximately 200 million Muslims) because they don’t follow the strict laws of the Koran according to the ISIS interpretation of that religious text.  Can anyone rationally believe that a Shiite Muslim is conspiring with ISIS?


[Conclusion:  Do not lump all Muslims into the same basket.  The Muslim have almost as many branches and expressions of their faith as do Christians.

There are many different schools of thought within the larger body of Islam. While all branches recognize the Qur'an, they differ in which other authorities they acknowledge regarding interpretations of the text. Broadly divided they have Sunni Islam (of which there are five different schools of thought and then many branches within each of those schools of thought); Kharijiyyah Islam (currently two groups); Shia Islam (three main branches); various schools of Divinity(6); Sufi Orders (of which there are 14 different ones); Ahmadiyya (2); Other denominations and sects (14) that also include a "Non-denominational" Muslim group.

Most Americans are unaware of these differences but most of them understand (at least to some degree) the differences among the various versions of the Christian religion which, like the Islamic faith, is divided into two broad groups.  Instead of Sunni and Shia, the Christians have Catholics and Protestants.  No American would assume that a Catholic and a Protestant have the same beliefs. At deeper more detailed level , no American would say that a Baptist and a Methodist hold the same beliefs. At a still finer distinction few Americans would say that a Baptist and a member of the Westboro Baptist Church hold the same beliefs.]


In a nutshell, what is ISIS?

ISIS is a religious faction of the Muslim faith and their key belief is in the coming of the apocalypse. These people are Sunni Islamic fundamentalists. They seized Mosul Iraq last June and rule an area larger than the United Kingdom.   

However, ISIS and their definition of an Islamic State will likely be its own undoing. Many predict they will stagnate.  It seems to be that’s what the leaders of the world are carefully watching and expecting.  An organization can only be against so much before it implodes. No country is the ally of ISIS and its ideology ensures that it will remain so.  While it is true they currently control an expansive amount of land; it is mostly uninhabited and poor land.

The Islamic religion, like the Christian religion, allows for many interpretations. According to ISIS interpretations, many acts can remove a Muslim from Islam:  selling alcohol, wearing western clothes, shaving one’s beard, even voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate. (I guess that bit about participation in politics just about wipes out the entire Muslim population of Dearborn Michigan.)


Why can we be fairly certain that 200 million Muslims are against ISIS?

ISIS has marked 200 million Shia Muslims worldwide for death since ISIS leaders claim that many of the Shiite practices have no basis in the Koran. I think we can all be fairly safe in assuming that 200 million Muslims worldwide at the very least do not support ISIS.  In the USA that would be between 400,000 and 500,000 Shia whom we can pretty much count as being on our side when it comes to the topic of ISIS.  Thus, if you happen to hear your neighbors saying that all Muslims support ISIS, I hope you will speak up and educate them on that topic because they obviously do not know what they are talking about.

ISIS can trace its history directly back to the Sunni terrorist organization al Qaeda, specifically the Iraq faction, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Western officials only have rough estimates on ISIS’s total fighting force, but in late 2014, the CIA said the group was believed to be up to 30,000.  Others put the estimates of the group lower at more like 15,000. Al Qaeda and ISIS are not in agreement on many points and it’s not likely they will come to an agreement either.


SOURCE FOR INFORMATION ON ISIS:  WHAT ISIS REALLY WANTS – Graeme Wood--an article that appeared in March 2015 Issue of The Atlantic


We would be better served as a nation if more Americans would step outside the box of stereotypical thinking and take a look at the bigger picture when it comes to Arab Americans. Just because a person happens to be an Arab American, it does not automatically follow that this person is a Muslim. And of course, just because someone is a Muslim, it does not automatically follow that they support terrorists.There are Arab/Americans who are atheists just as there are native-born Americans who are atheists.

Using the City Council of Dearborn as an example, two of its Arab Americans are Shiite Muslims and two of them are Christians. All four of them happen to be Lebanese. The majority of the members of the City Council of Dearborn Michigan are Christians.

Another demonstration that seems to fly in the face of American stereotypes of Muslim women is Susan Dabaja, an Arab-American Muslim 36 year old lawyer who serves as President of the City Council of Dearborn. (Again as mentioned in a previous post, there is no Sharia law in effect in Dearborn. The Mayor's name is John B. O'Reilly. The majority of private schools in Dearborn are Catholic, not Muslim. An excerpt from their recent city council meeting shows an opening invocation by a minister from a Christian Church followed by the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance--not any different from most of the city council meetings here in the DFW area.)

Most of us need to lighten up, let go our suspicions and try instead to learn more about what we don't understand and then celebrate the diversity that makes our nation great. We need to stop judging the many on the basis of the behavior of a few.

How many Christians, for example, would appreciate being judged as a group on the basis of the behavior of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber? Yet McVeigh professed to be a Christian just like Scott Roeder who shot Dr. Tiller inside a church.

Does it logically follow then that the 2 billion Christians in the world support the evil these men did? No, of course not. No more than it would follow that the 1.57 billion Muslims in the world support ISIS. It's insulting to the larger bodies of these religions to suggest such a thing. We need to smarten up and stop generalizing from the behavior of a few to that of the many. ________________________________________________________________________________


Here is perhaps the funniest and yet most revealing findings of all my research for this article:

Yes, and right here in Dallas. Fawaz Hassan "Tony" Ismail is the founder and CEO of Alamo Flags, the country's largest retail-flag enterprise that is based here in Dallas Texas. Ismail has 42 retail stores across the country. Positioned in tourist areas of cities like Atlanta, Boston, and New York, the shops sell not only flags from every nation but also hats, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and even bikinis with flag motifs.

Born to Palestinian refugees in Aman, Jordan, Ismail moved with his family to Mesquite, Texas, at the age of 9. He supplies most government agencies and all but a few foreign embassies in Washington. He is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.

Although a dedicated Muslim, he does not allow politics or religion to get in the way of his business. In an article about him that appeared in Fortune Magazine a few months after 9/11, Ismail was quoted as saying that he fired one of his employees who was quoted in the Atlanta Journal saying that the Confederate flag was like a Nazi flag. Ismail said that after the American flag the Confederate flag is their second top selling flag. He even once installed a flag at the Jewish Embassy in DC.


Arab-Americans have been contributing to and shaping American culture for over a century and their contributions are to be celebrated.

James Jabara - 1923 -1966

the first American and United States Air Force jet ace in history

 Jabara was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, of Lebanese American descent; his father, John, and mother came from Marjayoun, a town in South Lebanon.  He fought during World War II and also the Korean War.  During World War II he flew 108 combat missions.


Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut to Nathra and Rose (née Bouziane) Nader, immigrants from Lebanon. His parents were Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christians. They raised the children in their homeland's culture with both their native Arabic and English, telling them proverbs and stories they felt would encourage independent thought, appreciation of things such as wildlife that cannot be "measured by the dollar," plus instill traits such as perseverance and inner strength.


Paul Anka (Father Syrian and Mother Lebanese raised in the in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church.


Michael Ellis DeBakey -world-renowned American cardiac surgeon, innovator, scientist, medical educator, and international medical statesman. He developed an essential component of the heart-lung machine.The pump provided a continuous flow of blood during operations. This, in turn, made open-heart surgery possible. He was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Lebanese immigrants Shaker and Raheeja Dabaghi (later Anglicized to DeBakey).


American geologist, Dr. Farouk el-Baz, born in Egypt, helped plan all the Apollo moon landings and later pioneered the use of space photography to study the Earth.    He was born in the Nile Delta in the village of Touqh el aklaam, El Senbellawein city, Dakahlia Governorate.


So how did all these Arab-American Immigrants get here?

Most of them got here the same way that many immigrants arrive in the USA--by boat and legally.

Many of them are second, third and even fourth generation Americans. Many Arabs came to America as part of the Great Migration from 1880 to 1924. Why Dearborn?

There was no Muslim conspiracy for them to settle in and about Dearborn Michigan. They migrated to this area because of the promise of good jobs in the boom of the automotive industry. A second wave of immigrants came in the late 1940's and early 1950's after Israel was awarded homes and land that had belonged to Palestinians like Ismail's family for generations. What are you going to do when your home is taken from you? The best answer at the time was to migrate to the USA, the land of opportunity.

Because of our ridiculous media (whose one primary goal, please remember, is to sell advertisements and not to educate the public) many of us have the mistaken notion that we are being invaded by hordes of Muslims.  This is not unlike the 1950's and early 1960's when they had us believing that we would soon be invaded by hoards of yellow people and that everyone better build and stock a bomb shelter.

The primary fuel that feeds our media is fear and panic. How long must the American public allow themselves to be jerked about by these fear mongers before we say enough? {Frankly, I think that time may be closer than many suspect. Many friends I know have stopped watching the absurd "news" channels altogether.]

Forget the Media Hype and Get a Grip on the Facts with Statistics on Arab Americans in the USA

The current USA population is 318.9 million (2014)

The current Arab/American population is estimated at approximately 4 million.

They will not be taking over our nation, people. There are not "hoards" of people from the Middle East in the USA.

Furthermore, the majority of the Arab-Americans are an integral part of the fabric of our great nation, just like me (native born) and Tony Ismail (Arab American).

Four million out of 318 million will overtake us?

I don't think so--even if by some implausible fluke they were to unite.  Statistically it just ain't happening.

From the Arab American Institute: Contrary to popular assumptions or stereotypes, the majority of Arab Americans are native-born, and nearly 82% are citizens.  These people are not radical terrorists.

While the Arab community in the USA traces its roots to every Arab country, the majority of Arab Americans have ancestral ties to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq.


The more I see, the more I am coming to believe that our only hope/defense against terrorism is to increase our own education and understanding of the world we live in.

Yes there are passages in the Koran and the Bible that can be interpreted to advocate violence.  In fact there are likely passages in all religious texts that advocate violence of one kind or another against those who don't agree with the dogma.  Throughout the centuries violence against human beings has been carried out in the name of god.  The Catholic Inquisition of the Middle Ages is one outstanding example.

Scholar Philip Jenkins, a professor at Penn State University, points out in an article titled "Dark Passages" that appeared a few years ago in  "Most Westerners who have never even opened the Koran assume that it is filled with calls for militarism and murder.  They assume those are the texts that shape Islam.  But they are wrong."  Professor Jenkins even suggest the Bible contains more passages urging or praising bloodshed than the Koran.

The Biblical story of Phinehas (Numbers 25: 1-15) was the basis for the foundation of a white supremacist group.  in 1990, Richard Kelly Hoskins used the story as the basis for his manifesto "Vigilantes of Christendom." Hoskins advocated the creation of a new order of militant white supremacists, the Phineas Priesthood, and since then a number of groups have assumed this title, claiming Phinehas as the justification for terrorist attacks on mixed-race couples and abortion clinics.

The point here being:  Just because an individual quotes from an ancient religious text as being the basis for the formation of an extremist group, it does not follow that the 2 billion Christians on the planet have his back.  It is just as absurd to assume that 1.57 billion Muslims approve of ISIS and their interpretation of the Koran.  Those who know even a little about ISIS know this is true because ISIS is sworn to kill 200 million Shia Muslims because the Shia don't follow the ISIS fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran.  Therefore it is fairly safe to say that at least 200 million Muslims are opposed to ISIS.


Terrorists Are Made--Not Born.   

Not all, but many jihadists such as the 9/11 are highly educated. It seems to me that what is emerging from the literature on the topic is that given a certain set of circumstances certain people are vulnerable to being recruited as terrorists, just as certain people, given certain circumstances, are vulnerable to being recruited by a cult--regardless how well they are educated. Most of the terrorists are young males between the ages of 20 and 30 years. Some are well-educated and some are not.  According to British Arnold Toynbee, contact with the dominant universal society is always the first step in the radicalization of Third World terrorists.  He even has defined the path:

1. Intrusive civilization (Western Society)  2. Intelligentsia (Expatriate Liaison Class)  3. Alienation, humiliation loss of identity  4. Voluntary sorting of Affinity Groups  5. Concentration of True Believers  6. Information Depravation 7. Radicalization 8. Terrorism.  Toynbee's steps for the making of a terrorist seem to make sense to me--whether the terrorist is born in the USA or not.  It also seems to be that at least through the first four steps that successful intervention would be possible.  


We each must make our own important decisions.

Albert Einstein put it well when he said:  The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe."  Do we choose to believe that we live in a world filled mostly with hate and anger and hostility where people are out to do us harm; or do we choose to believe that we live in a world filled mostly with love and caring?  The choice we make will most certainly color the quality of  our lives, our health and our happiness and also to some extent that of the people around us.

I choose to believe that I live in a friendly universe.  I choose to believe that more people are out to help me than to attack me.  That is my choice.

I choose to believe that of the 1.57 billion Muslims and the 2 billion Christians in the world that most of them are more like me than not. They are good people with honorable intentions.  I choose to believe that the majority of them want all the same basic things from life that I desire--honorable work, a place to live that is safe for me and my family, and the chance to live a healthy, productive, fruitful life.


 A Good Starting Point Might be to Stop Blaming Billions of People for the Insanity of a Few

Religion can be used as a tool by some to twist others into committing acts of terrorism. All organized religions down through the centuries have been used by those in control to manipulate others. The Christian religion and the words of the Bible have also throughout the centuries been used as an excuse for murder and mayhem.  It makes no more sense to blame the Islamic faith for a terrorist event that it does to blame Christianity for the likes of Richard Kelly Hoskins or Jim David Adkisson or Paul Jennings Hill or Eric Rudolph or James Charles Kopp or Fred Phelps or John Salvi to name a few.  In fact, all organized religion has throughout history been used as an excuse for hate and murder.

The Islamic faith is no different.  All religions of the world share that stage.  History tells us that Islam is no worse or better in that regard.



It’s interesting and also can be frightening how myths persist in the face of facts but they do.

With the recent incident at the Garland Cullwell Center, once again I hear people talking about how “Sharia law is already implemented in the City of Dearborn, Michigan and it’s only a matter of time before it’s all over the USA.”  That false story is used time and again to raise fear and paranoia among people in communities. 

Sharia Law is NOT in effect in the city of Dearborn Michigan.

I wonder how many people who go around telling people that Sharia law is already in effect in Dearborn Michigan have actually gone to that city’s website and looked at all the various city departments and its government?

My guess is that not a single one of them has bothered to check out the facts.  If they did, they would learn that the Mayor of that city is John B O’Reilly, Jr.—an Irish American.    They would also learn the majority of Dearborn’s City Council are Christians as are most cities in the USA.  Although there are four Arab Americans on their city council, only two of them are Muslim.  The other two are Christian.  Not all Arab Americans are Muslims--another fact often overlooked by many Americans.

The population of Dearborn is 30% Arab American.  Out of its 10 private schools, two are Muslim.


Yesterday (May 5, 2015) they voted down a state initiative to raise sales taxes.  It appears their voter turnout of about 20% is about typical—except for some cities like Garland where it is much lower. 

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 50) . . . . . 50 100.00

REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 59,043

 BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . 11,569 8,548 3,021

 VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 19.59


Vote for 1

 YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,428 21.04 1,640 788

 NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,110 78.96 6,902 2,208


Most of the same laws that govern municipalities all over the USA are also in place at Dearborn.  There is no Sharia Law.   If you look at the minutes from their most recent city council meeting you will see that it opened with a prayer from a local Christian minister and was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.



Who is “The National Report?     Here is their own disclaimer for ANY story they write.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go to their website and see for yourself. Encourage others to stop passing around this ridiculous lie about Sharia Law.

National Report Disclaimer

National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help, please consult a professional. National Report is not intended for children under the age of 18.

[Accessed May 6, 2015 ]

Below is the story as it appeared in their publication of fake news from 2013:


In a surprise weekend vote, the city council of Dearborn, Michigan voted 4-3 to became the first US city to officially implement all aspects of Sharia Law.  The tough new law, slated to go into effect January 1st, addresses secular law including crime, politics and economics as well as personal matters such as . . . .

- See the entire joke at: 

But after you’ve read all their nonsense, be sure to also look at their disclaimer.  None of what they write is true and they admit it.


Perhaps another part of this equation is understanding why there even is such a site as "National Report":  It's all about money, folks.

According to Wiki, stories from the National Report have been taken seriously by third parties such as Fox News Channel and the site drew criticism in October 2015 for running a series of fake stories about Ebola outbreaks in the USA, including the false report that the town of Purdon Texas had been quarantined after an outbreak.  The story led to a traffic spike of two million unique visiitors, and although the story was debunked by other websites, the original National Report story received six times as many "shares" on social media sites as the debunking stories did.  [See what I mean about folks and their love of myth? Lies seem to sell better than the facts.]