David Swan in Iraq

Dear Muslims

I am an American, a Christian, and a US Army Soldier. I’m white, I grew up in the South, and I love Jesus, as well as the life of freedom and prosperity that my country has enabled me to have. I have fought in Iraq and lost several really good friends there.

I don’t hate you. I don’t fear you. I don’t want you to leave this country. I want to know you, your heart, your struggles, and your joys. I want to have you over to my house for barbecues. I want our children to be friends and play in the back yard together. I want you to join my fantasy football league. I want to give you crap and make fun of you for not picking Marshawn Lynch in the first round of the draft when you had the opportunity. I want you to give me crap when it turns out that you were right, because Marshawn Lynch kind of sucks this year. I want to share mutual respect with you.

David Swan in Iraq
Me (4th from left) with Kurdish Soldiers in Iraq in 2009.

Sadly, it’s working. It is producing the full range of human fear responses toward Arab-looking people — from a subtle sense of suspicion and unease communicated with sideways glances at each other on the street, to full-scale Islamophobia and racism. I want to believe that we, as Christians, could follow the example of Christ and show love to you as well as your people suffering through this refugee crisis in Syria by opening our homes and communities to you.

We can’t allow them to make us hate each other. Fear and hate are their most effective weapons and we must neutralize them in order to break the cycle.

We are failing at this because of the fear and distrust our enemies are willfully creating. This growing divide between our cultures makes recruiting more disaffected Muslim youth even easier for them.We share a common enemy in the radical Islamist. They want to drive us apart and to fear each other. They want your children to grow up hating my children. They want you to believe our way of life is evil and that we must be punished for it. They produce a barrage of internet propaganda aimed at isolating your children from those not like them in an attempt to recruit them to do evil on their behalf. Every terrorist attack against innocent people in this world is an attack against peace and normalcy. It’s designed to stir a violent response from those attacked and create more hatred between “us and them.”

To anyone reading this letter…Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheist, or whatever. We simply cannot let them win. We can’t allow them to make us hate each other. Fear and hate are their most effective weapons and we must neutralize them in order to break the cycle.

If you truly want peace, I challenge you to befriend someone “on the other side.” Let’s have a joint Church/Mosque cookout in a park where our kids can chase each other around and argue over who gets to be Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Prince Hans. We need to learn about each other’s lives and differences. I believe we will find that there aren’t as many differences as one might think. We all want to make a living, raise our families in a safe place, and live in peace.

Unfortunately, there are some wolves out there that will not stop killing sheep until they are put down. Please do not blame us for using our staff to protect the flock. Please know that when it comes to terrorism, I consider all peace loving people part of the flock, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. That includes you, of course. War is hell but as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

If there happen to be any Muslims reading this that have already been radicalized, I feel sorry for you. You have bought into a lie. You have been promised a glory for your actions that does not exist. We take no joy in killing you, but we will do it because you have forced our hand. We will reduce Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) to an impotent and ineffective shell of what it once was just as we have with Al Qaeda. The world will not know your names, but your families will undoubtedly mourn your loss. May God have mercy on your souls.

Respectfully,

DS

**UPDATE: Wow! I’m so humbled by how this letter has traveled around the world in the last few days. I’m receiving messages of support from every corner of the globe right now. To keep the conversation going, use the hashtag#dearmuslims and lets see how far it can go! If you are interested in my future postings, follow @davidswan on Twitter. **

Read this next: A ‘Merican Life—Syrian Refugee Edition.

13 thoughts on “Dear Muslims

  1. David —
    Extraordinary story and inspiring words that clearly capture who we really are as Americans.
    I would like your permission to reprint your letter and explanation as to why you wrote them in my next commentary that will appear this coming Monday, Dec. 14, on my own website that talks about the importance of ethical values such as tolerance. If possible, please send along a photo that can be used.
    Please respond at your earliest convenience.
    Sincerely,
    Jim Lichtman
    EthicsStupid.com

  2. David, you struck at the heart of hate with these words,
    as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” There are also some memorable words if you do a search to Quotes by Teddy Roosevelt. He, too, expressed so well the
    meaning of being an American. Keep streaming positive, love-filled words.
    God bless you for taking a heart-warming stand for freedom and justice.
    Sincerely, kClaire Santry (retired after 39 yrs of teaching 6/7 yr olds)

  3. Well done Captain and my Grandmother, father-in-law came from Germany after WWI where German-Americans were vilified and targeted as well, and the circle turns and as you probably now, one of the most decorated Army units was the 443rd Regt.’Go for Broke’ composed of Japanese-Americans sent to fight in Italy and Germany.

  4. Thank you for putting in to words the feelings of many of us. I look forward to reading what will come next. I am often angered and saddened that so many of our so-called leaders have so little grasp of true American values.
    My father served in WW2 in the Pacific; Guadalcanal, New Guinea, the Philippines, and finally Japan. Listening to him as I grew up I realized that he did not hate the Japanese. He saw them as a polite and gentle people that had been led to war by political leaders that were just plain evil.
    I have not served in the military. My time came during the build down after the Vietnam War. Listening to the vets I worked with at the time tell what they had been through it did not seem like the thing to do. That said, I have the highest respect and admiration for those that have served. Keep up the good work.

  5. I am an american Muslim and I just want to thank you David. First for not buying into the fear and hate mongering that is perpetuated from every direction right now. Second, for calling for others to follow your example using beautiful articulation of the thoughts of a rational minded being. I appreciate it. Every day I become a little more terrified of what may happen to me and my family because of the awful things people are doing around the world. Your thoughts give me hope.

    Thanks again.

  6. Good stuff man! I was infantry once upon a time, now recruit public school teachers from service members leaving the military. Your attitude and thinking is exactly what we need expressed more often! This is the American way. Thanks so much!

    Doug Taggart
    NC Troops to Teachers

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