In view of recent events in Fort Hood, Texas, I thought I’d tell of my experience with a Moslem shipmate of mine named Yahya Abdul Kareem. I should note that Yahya was black and he was Muslim, but he was not a Black Muslim. We worked in the same office at Fort Meade, Maryland. We had a supervisor who neither of us could stand and NOTHING builds friendships better than having a common enemy.
Yahya and I got along so well that he started calling me “Kunta Kent.” (Instead of Kunta Kinte from Roots.) He even told me once that I might have all the honkies fooled, but I was a brother passing for white. I took it as the good-natured ribbing it was, and slipping into my best Kingfish impersonation, replied, “Yahya, I have carefully considered de situation, and seein’ how much I love barbecue, basketball and god knows I always be chasin’ de white women, you must be right.”
In all the time I knew Yahya, I never heard anyone say a single negative word to him about him being Moslem. I also never heard him mention anything like that, either. If someone had made a religious slur about him, I would have gone ballistic. In my four years of active duty, eight years in the reserves and slightly over two years teaching on board US Navy ships, I never heard any friction between servicepeople over religious matters. I can’t say anything about how Major Nidal Malik Hasan was treated. I can only say that I never heard anything like that.