It happens that we don’t always have room for every story we’ve planned for an issue, which necessitates finding some future issue in which the story would be appropriate. It also happens that we occasionally get more room than we had bargained for. And once in a while, a story falls into our laps that is so interesting or important, we assign it without a clear idea about when we’ll be able to run it. This month, all three circumstances converged in an unusual and interesting way.
Let’s start at the beginning: Several months ago we asked reporter Brandon Ambrosino to find out about the lives of Muslims here in Delaware. Why? Simply put, though Sept. 11 changed many things, we had never done so before. The Muslim population has been growing visibly here. In doing a bit of institutional self-examination about our notions of Islam, we realized we needed to get to know our neighbors in a spirit of understanding. Unfortunately, that story was squeezed out of the issue it was first scheduled for.
Next, Delaware Today was invited to join the Fangman family as it traveled to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City in honor of their son and brother, Bobby, who was killed in the attacks. The family made its visit too late for us to publish in September, but the experience of revisiting that awful day, we believed, transcended the anniversary. Nothing is as universal as grief and loss, regardless of cause, and they know no season.
As it turned out, circumstance dictated both stories would appear in this issue. Was that too much? You be the judge. I believe this month’s lineup creates an opportunity.
Sept. 11 changed perceptions of the Islamic world for better and worse. Forced to examine our ideas about others then and now, what would we conclude?
As you read about one family’s direct experience of terror committed by Islamic extremists, you can read about the day-to-day experience of Muslims here. I don’t need to warn anyone about the injustice of conflating Islam and terrorism. I don’t think most of us do. But just as there are troubled individuals who believe they act in the name of some higher principal or power, there are others who will assume the worst about people who seem to be like them.
From our stories this month, I take away two things: the image of young people enjoying pizza together after Jummah, and the words of the aggrieved. One is as familiar as eating doughnuts in the church hall after Sunday services; the other, it seems, a statement of forgiveness: “You can’t blame a whole group for the actions of a few.” As we continue to grapple with rogue attacks at home and war and terror abroad, perhaps it is wise to consider that the answers to the big issues lie in recalling what unites us instead of what divides. I hope our stories this month contribute in some small way to a more peaceful world.