Future leaders in the United States armed services have been taught by the military that Muslims must be wiped out through “total war” before the terrorist threat to America is erased. In classes, they were told that the US needs to use “Hiroshima tactics,” killing not just soldiers, but entire cities and that civilian populations were fair game. It’s true that there are Muslims who hate us; it’s also true that there are Christians who hate all Muslims. Neither religion can boast the love for humanity that both faiths call for, but neither should be condemned as being all evil, either. The Pentagon has cancelled the classes, which were held at held at the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College, but hundreds of young officers have been told that the official position of the US military is that Muslims are all terrorists, and that does real damage to our position in the world. If you want to turn more Muslims into terrorists, then treat all of them as terrorists. The problem here is that millions and millions of Muslims are peace-loving people who have no interest in killing Americans. The ones who hate us are led by hate-filled people, not by God. The same is true of Christians. If you are a Muslim child in a predominately Muslim country with no Christians among your circle of friends and family, you’re not likely to understand that most Christians don’t want to make war on you. We can be painted as villains because we are the unknown. Here in the United States, Muslims are in the minority. After 9/11, we tended to blame all Muslims for the actions of a violent minority and we punished those we knew to be followers of the teachings of the Prophet, Muhammad. But how many of us have spent time with people of the Islam faith? Until I covered religion for a newspaper in New York, I knew little about the faith, just what I could recall from a course in world religions I took many years ago. In 1993, I spent a day of Ramadan with the people of a small mosque in Chestnut Ridge, NY, and it turned out to be one of the most profoundly spiritual experiences of my life. I rose before dawn to eat breakfast and fasted all day, then broke the fast with my new friends at the mosque. The food was fabulous and the company even more so. After dinner, I spent the evening with the women, talking about faith and family, and it was there I learned the real meaning of sisterhood. The experience shattered my feminist delusion that women and men are really the same. We are different, but equal. Our two faiths are more alike than I had ever dreamed. We talked about God’s mercy and grace; we talked about our children and our hopes and dreams. We had much in common. As I rose to leave, one of the women called out to me. “I just want to tell you something,” she said. “The word Muslim means lover of God, and you, my sister, are Muslim.” I have never been paid a higher compliment. A few days later, as the story was about to go to press, a group of fanatic Muslims tried to blow up the World Trade Center. My editor asked me to call my Muslim friends and ask them about the truck bomb. “OK,” I said. “As long as someone calls a Christian and asks about David Koresh and the mayhem in Waco for the Easter story.” He didn’t think the two were the same. After all, Muslims are known to be violent. I pointed out the Crusades, the Inquisition and other well known examples of Christian violence, and he agreed to talk about how we might cover this without offending people. “We need to educate our readers that most Muslims are appalled by this,” he said. The solution was for me to call the Imam and talk to him about the violence in the city and allow him to condemn it, apart from the story on Ramadan. “These are not people who are inspired by Allah,” he said. “These are people who are inspired by earthly power.” The military officers who gave this class in genocide need to meet some of the Muslims I know, and the Christians who condone this hatred need to look into their own hearts to see the reflection of what they’re saying about their Muslim brothers and sisters.Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.