My Fellow American: Muslims among us

I'm glad to see this initiative. East and West have met, and meet most intensively in the US, the world's most active melting pot. And we have no other sensible choice, all of us from wherever we come, than to recognize one another's essential humanity. The videos on this website are one more way to do that.

My Fellow American

I learned much about Islam in the research and imagining for my novel, A Gift for the Sultan. And partly as a result of publishing that novel in Turkey, I now have many more friends who have grown up in Muslim tradition — whether they are practicing Muslims or not. And writing this note prodded me to look up the source of one of our oft-heard clichés, Rudyard Kipling's The Ballad of East and West. It does indeed begin,

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, 

But Kipling's point in the poem is that in fact they can meet:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

That is, the differences can dissolve when you've got "two strong men." The ballad is a sappy adventure romance with a thuddingly monotonous rhyme scheme (all couplets), but still it has this merit: it's a rejection of the blind ethnic hatred that its first line recalls.