Dear Gayle Williams: A Wonderful Update

A note from Radarsite: When I first contemplated writing my Dear Gayle Williams piece two thoughts went through my mind. One was that if Gayle herself were actually here she would most likely completely disagree with my interpretation of this tragedy and my characterization of Islam. Her decision to do what she did where she chose to do it would it seems to me bear this thought out. I doubt if she would have agreed with my assessment that Islam itself is the enemy.
The second reservation I had in going ahead with this article was the possibility — no, the probability — that someone would write in to accuse me of using this innocent woman’s death as a cynical attempt to either promote Radarsite or to promote our intolerant, hate-filled, right-wing, anti-Islam agenda. These thoughts crossed my mind. But then what would be the alternative? To not write this article at all? To write this article as a somber lament for a fine woman, but somehow avoid the discussion of her killers agenda ? To qualify or tone down my treatment Islam?

When I first received the email this morning with this important comment to my article which was cross posted at Stop The ACLU I was thrilled and immediately decided to use these enlightening and poignant personal remembrances as a whole new article, a welcome update to my original letter.

Then I got to those last few paragraphs. “A selfless soul who didn’t deserve to be used as a cheap PR move that does nothing for anyone today.” So, just as I had predicted, it had happened. And the accusation didn’t come from some anonymous leftist commenter who had never known her, but rather from someone who knew her all her life and loved her.

However, as I read on, as I read the title of the book Mr. de Lange was writing, “Faithmentalism”, another reality began to take shape and was confirmed by this final paragraph: “What angers me most is that Islam does not preach killing, only fundamentalists interpret this for their own selfishness!
Beliefs & Doctrine of Christianity & Islamview of the other religion
• Islam is respected as a fellow monotheistic religion, but Muhammad is not seen as a true prophet
• Christians are respected as ‘People of the Book,’ but they have mistaken beliefs and only partial revelation
We miss you and we will never forget your smile!
Love Ed and family!”

This of course presented me with a moral dilemma. Up until those last few sentences this was a wonderful and touching personal tribute to Gayle “Tree” Williams. But those few final words turned everything upside down. It had suddenly become an indictment, not only of me for writing my letter in the first place, but an indictment of the conclusions I had reached. My first impulse was to forget about posting these comments as a new article altogether — why post an update that undermines the whole purpose of the original article and questions my personal integrity? Why not just leave well enough alone? No one would even read these comments unless they went on STACLU.
Or, I thought, I could post the whole comment and just leave off those last few sentences. After all, I considered, wasn’t the writer was using the tragedy of Gayle Williams death to put forward his own agenda just as he was criticizing me for doing?

Those of you who have been following Radarsite for any period of time know how much I value honesty, especially self-honesty. I firmly believe that that inability to be honest with one’s self is what is behind almost all of the major problems of this world.

There could only be one answer. These personal remembrances are so touching, so valuable, and so essential to beginning to understand who Gayle Williams was that there was no way I could justify not posting them or arbitrarily censoring them because the author disagrees with my conclusions.

So here they are in there entirety. Thank you Edwin de Lange for taking the time to write in to STACLU and share these wonderful personal memories of Gayle “Tree” Williams. – rg

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Comment: Gayle “tree” Williams

A photograph flashes in my mind when I think of Gayle and 7 cousins sitting around a picnic table on the banks of the Kariba Lake ranging in height and age all discussing how many fish we each planned to catch and the art of threading a mud worm onto a hook, as parents busied themselves with making sure sunscreen and hats where all on, no-one thought that one day we would all be on different corners of the world.

As we all grew up Gayle’s Mom always spoilt me as the son she never had. It was Gayle that started horse riding at a young age in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and got me hooked on what was to become my passion and later become my service back to society by training policemen to ride. I always remember that first ride. Gayle got a pony called Bronwynn (a grey Shetland) that loved ducking under fences and leaving her jockey behind. Gayle used to hate getting this pony but she hung in and mastered the ability of ducking. How many afternoons did we get yelled at as my mad passion for horses and show jumping had all the children skipping around the garden jumping the flowers as if we where horses! At this time memories like Gayle Tamsyn (her middle name) Williams begin to flash back when she now did not like her middle name anymore and wanted to be called Gayle “tree” Williams. No matter how much her mom told her Tamsyn was a wonderful name “tree” seemed to stick!

Years later after immigrating to the UK, Gayle, Karen (her sister) and her mom came back to live with us in South Africa. I clearly remember this tall skinny athletic girl running me backwards and forwards across a tennis court with the ability to hit any ball from any man. For pocket money she came to work for my as a bar lady in the hotel night club and always had that smile that was Gayle. She was very into aerobics and went onto study in the field of sports and bio kinetics and was always competitive, latter getting into mountain biking. Years later she returned to the UK and went off to the East again (Pakistan and Afghanistan) to do charity work. There was trouble and she managed to get out safely after a long hike through the mountains and across borders with women and children in tow! I am glad her fitness paid off.

I remember after I had returned from 4 years in Africa as an expat, having escaped some close calls in different dark corners of the continent, how we had a heated debate about the existence of God and if he had turned his back on some areas. I said, “God had got fat and lazy and couldn’t see over his tummy the continents of Africa and Asia that feel into shadow under him and so ignored those areas!” – always looking for an argument, Gayle was not swayed and never took the bait, she never deemed to judge you or convert you, so claims of proselytisation are nonsense! She simply held her ground and was humble in her beliefs.

A little over 2 and bit years ago I was flying around the world on business and bumped into Gayle & her Mom in London and heard she had decided her true calling was to go back to Afghanistan and help the disabled via a charity organisation. When you speak too many of the family they will all tell you we thought she was much bigger then any of us. Often people look to the easy route with offers of – do something locally – do something in your own back yard – build a career and give a donation if you want to do some good – why go all that way when it’s not safe?

Gayle was due to return home for Christmas and I was eager to debate the book I had written about “Faithmentalism” and the holes in the catholic and Islam thinking around marketing and their use of media when it benefits them. It would have been a debate of note!Gayle sense of adventure and calling to help out a group of people whom she held no malice and no judgement of their religious choices or lifestyle but simply to offer her time, her love and her skill was the greater force in her life. A selfless soul who didn’t deserve to be used as a cheap PR move that does nothing for anyone today. I truly hope that Gayle will find peace wherever that may be and that she will not be forgotten when the press dies down. What angers me most is that Islam does not preach killing, only fundamentalists interpret this for their own selfishness!

Beliefs & Doctrine of Christianity & Islamview of the other religion
• Islam is respected as a fellow monotheistic religion, but Muhammad is not seen as a true prophet
• Christians are respected as “People of the Book,” but they have mistaken beliefs and only partial revelation

We miss you and we will never forget your smile!
Love Ed and family!