Saturday, March 26, 2011

Be disappointed by Muslim-bashing, but don't be surprised.

So I read an article yesterday by this guy who is shocked that people in America hate Muslims.


You can't think of any possible reason why some of us may have an issue with Islam? Nothing comes to mind? Nothing at all?


Now, I'm not advocating discrimination against Muslims or any other religion for that matter. I truly believe our distrust and fear of Muslims is misguided.

But surprising? C'mon.

As someone who lived in New York on 9/11, I still feel extreme anger at those who attacked us. And why the fuck shouldn't I? Nearly 3000 of my fellow citizens were killed 20 blocks from my home that day. You're damn right I'm angry about it.

And the one thing all of the killers had in common? You guess it, Islam.

So yeah, I spent a period of time thinking all Muslims were fucking assholes. Forgive me.

But over time, I've come to realize that my anger should be more targeted, at those who hold the extreme view that killing Americans is a requirement of their faith.

Turns out, the vast majority of Muslims don't feel this way.

But you wouldn't know it, if all you did was watch American television. How many times have we seen images of Muslim people screaming 'death to America' on the news? You'd be crazy not to distrust Muslims if this was your only exposure to them.

How many of us actually know any Muslims? Not the ones we see on TV hurling stones and burning our flag, but average, ordinary Muslims who go to work like the rest of us and have kids in the same school system. Probably not too many of us.

And this is the real problem. We fear what we don't know.

Which is a perfect argument in favor of bringing more mosques and cultural centers into our communities. The more we spend time with 'the other', the less scary they become.

But images of people getting along don't typically make the news, do they? So don't expect the media to lead the way on this one.

It's going to take a leap of faith by ordinary people. Seek out someone different than you. Read something that shows Muslims in a different light. Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

And for those who feign shock at Americans who distrust Muslims? Just cut the act and listen to what people are actually saying.

If you don't, you're just as guilty as they are, making judgements based on ignorance.

And we really don't need any more ignorance in this country.

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