I had to make this a posting: What is an “Average American?”

american-flag.jpg

I was compelled to write this based on the comments of a poster “Average American”.  It became very clear to me that I have to cover up some very common misconceptions as to what that means, especially in the light of the fact that so many of my readers are not from America but are from the other side of the planet.

First and foremost, there is truly no such thing as an “Average American” because to many Americans that implies many different things.  The only true way to define what is meant by the statement “Average American” is in light of that individual American’s beliefs and ideas.  That way we can at least define what segment of America that individual claims to represent.  Even still, there will be many flaws in the claimants understanding and description as an “Average American” as Americans are rarely monolithic.

Secondly, it doesn’t take much to make such a claim.  America is a true melting pot, consisting of varied and diverse people, religions, etc. that somehow despite the obvious differences come together in the great experiment called American Democracy, that for the last several centuries actually works!

Now my purpose is not to give a history or civics lesson, but to merely lay the foundation of my “beef” with those who claim to be an “Average American” and use that title and/or association to criticize me or my religion.

In truth, I am in many circles considered an Average American.  I’m a black descendant of slaves, who grew up in the inner city of NJ, living in and working in the Nations Capital, with a wife and children with the same background, who served in the Military, grew up in a “good Christian household”, wanted to be like Mike, loves Apple Pie, and America’s team the Dallas Cowboys!

So what does that mean?  Absolutely nothing outside of context!

Now if one was to check my post “The next time people want to lie against Islam and our feelings toward others….”

They could get the gist of my rant.

To sum it up, I posted a “good news” article that lends more credence to my constant mantra that the majority of Muslims are of the strand that I am and the reason why people don’t know is because they refuse to read and the media aids in their ignorance by not promoting positive news, but sensationalist ratings-based news about Islam, to further the falsehood that we are all foaming at the mouth barbarians.

Then true to form, a poster “Average American” gave me a lecture about how it’s somehow my fault and other Muslims like me for the perception he and others have about us.  I have heard this mantra before as I am a black man in the US and for decades, blacks have been told that it’s our fault white Americans believe we are all gangster’s, pimps, and Ho’s with little intelligence and are all on welfare.  Therefore, I don’t respond well to this type of rhetoric and will venture to say that those of the mindset about black Americans, are the same people with the mindset about Muslims and Islam.

This particular group uses extreme examples and isolated events, history, people, etc. to promote an ignorant, sometimes border and blatant racist agenda, to somehow cover their “truth” or opinion about those different than themselves.  What irritates me and others to no end is their unwillingness to accept overall fact, in leu of their selective “facts” and once confronted with the truth, blame their thesis on lack of access to the facts.

Case in point, the crowd that lumps all blacks and black males into one box, willfully ignore that the majority of black Americans are employed, educated, take care of their families, are religious, etc. etc. etc.  Yet, we are often characterized by music videos and the 9 o’clock news that will never talk about what good black people do, but only what young thugs and ignorant blacks do.  Never mind that blacks have the means to spend on average 13 trillion dollars a year, let’s only perpetuate the myth that the majority of blacks are poor welfare kings and queens.  Let’s substantiate this myth with the popularity of rap music (which the majority is bought by whites, and the labels are owned by whites) or the fact that blacks make up the majority of the prison system (but how did they get there, considering that the majority of gun manufactures are white owned and I don’t recall blacks frequently visiting Columbia for drugs…) then let’s add fuel to the fire by only allowing “entertainment” to be released that substantiate these myths in the form of movies, music, etc. (ignoring the ownership and power behind that), then let’s say we are truthful, ignore the overwhelming contribution of black inventors, scientists, educators, etc.  or the fact that the only reason whites enjoy their position is because of over 400 years of free labor, etc. etc.  Then when faced with these facts, let’s claim ignorance or simply deny it. 

In fact, let’s blame black people for not doing enough to project that image and say it’s not our fault because we believe about you the way we do, but yours for not doing enough!  As if blacks controlled the news, Hollywood, or the music industry!

Now let’s meditate on the run-on sentence worthy of a “D” in English class.

How does it apply to Muslims and/or Muslim/Islam opinions by the so-called “Average American?”

Lets see:

They lump all of Islam and Muslims into one box, willfully ignoring the fact that the majority of Muslims are not the same as they are from all corners of the Earth, have various beliefs, and consist of over a billion people etc. etc. etc.  Yet, we are often characterized by skewed histories, isolated text and of course the 9 o’clock news that will never talk about what good Muslims do, but only what terrorists, radicals, etc. say or do.  Their bread and butter is the latest Osama Bin Laden tape.  Never mind that Muslims per capita are the most affluent bloc in America, representing the most likely to be professionals, college educated, and the least likely to have been found guilty of any crime,  let’s only perpetuate the myth that the majority of Muslims are backward terrorists or terrorists in training.  Let’s substantiate this myth with a 24 hour news cycle that continually feeds us the latest suicide bombing, or crazy Mullah’s fatwa, proclamation, or statement (even though the majority of which is against fellow Muslims… so who are they really against?) or the fact that the majority of this “news” comes from reports in the “Muslim World” (but of course, the dictators in power just happened in a vacuum and the West had nothing to do with their creation or staying in power) then let’s add fuel to the fire by only allowing foreign born Muslims onto radio and television shows to defend Islam and Muslims (of course to “prove” that there is no such thing as black, white, or Asian Muslims.., they are only Arabs from the Middle East) this way, Islam/Muslims can continually be viewed as “other”, “different”, ..etc. then let’s say we are truthful and ignore the overwhelming contribution of Muslim inventors, scientists, educators, etc.  or the fact that while Europe was in the Dark Ages it was largely due to the fact that Muslims preserved the ancient texts and expounded on them, that it was Muslims that pioneered mathematics, medicine, etc. and helped get the West out of the Dark Ages, largely brought on ironically enough, because of the Church.  Then when faced with these facts, let’s claim ignorance or simply deny it.  In fact, let’s blame Muslims for not doing enough to project that image and say it’s not our fault because we believe about you the way we do, but yours for not doing enough!  As if Muslims controlled the news, Hollywood, or the music industry!

See how similar the story is?

I am convinced that the “Average American” that thinks like this represent a single bloc of people and not all Americans, because the “Average American” bloc I belong to, doesn’t have problems with Muslims or Islam, in fact, many of our families have Muslims in them, we allow Muslims to speak in our Churches and events, and understand the history and role Islam played in our ancestry.

My point:  Let’s not get into this “Average American” crap.  Let’s just say how we feel and take accountability for our own thoughts, because all one does is expose them self, their agenda, and the bloc of like minded individuals they represent.

Yes, I know I used horrible English, Grammar, spelling, etc.  But I’m certain if you want to get what I’m saying you will, and if you don’t, it’s not surprising.

I close with the last back and forth from the posting that inspired this one:

  1. Average American Says:
    October 24, 2007 at 10:23 am eRobert,Your response makes my point exactly! I’m sorry you fail to see the larger issue here, I did not post in order to argue points with you. I posted here hoping to present my understanding of a very current and important concern, that of Muslim aggression, in a manor that might attract a new solution.

    I know this characterization of my perspective is likely to offend you, I want to express these issues in terms and in views common within the Muslim world. In other words, I hope to turn around the situation so that it may disturb you as it dose the average American. Why? So there is a common dissatisfaction from which to converse. It is a very quick and clear way to demonstrate basic misconceptions we both may hold.

    My original post here was my attempt to portray common views held by the average American. From your responses I think I achieved my goal as well as proving my argument in the process.

    You made the timeless claim that there are two arms of Islam, one peaceful and one not.

    You claim no responsibility for the other arm while proclaiming your innocence.

    You basically spend your whole response offering the difference between yourself and the other side of Islam.

    You do all this while accusing me the whole time of ignorance and hypocrisy…

    I think you know better than I that the average American only sees one Islam, my whole point. There is no separation between the super aggressive arm and the peaceful arm in the mind of the average American. This means you, being an American Muslim, do bear responsibility for the actions taken in the name of Islam in the mind of a vast majority of this country.

    In fact, I think there is a lot of support for the theory that both of the arms of Islam are in fact working in concert to achieve their ultimate goal. What would that be? World domination of course, just look at the doctrine of these aggressive Muslims, convert or kill! It really would be an effective approach to use the peace arm to gain foothold in places not receptive to overt aggression, such as the United States. Once there is a significant network in place a gradual change could be implemented creating a place for extremist. It has already occurred in other countries, many times. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center, even has classified the Nation Of Islam as a hate group. The extremist are already here!

    With Islam’s long history filled with so much international aggression, domination and oppression, it is not hard to see why the average American should be concerned in today’s world.

    Robert I had hoped you could offer more of an original solution. Disclaiming responsibility and diverting attention is an old and tired defense at best. There is only one Islam, either is will be defined in history as a very aggressive religion only kept in check by the sword or maybe the last word has yet to be written? To any objective observer it seems clear, based on history and current events, that the sword is and integral part of Islam and has so far been the only check for Islam.

    America will wake up one day, you know as well as I do, that is why I bothered to offer you this perspective hoping you may see the bigger picture and care enough to act.

    I hold no hatred for peaceful people but I demand the same respect from others, this is where the hate arm of Islam and the average American

  2. Robert Salaam Says:
    October 24, 2007 at 12:11 pm eThis is where I believe you miss the entire ship.

    I am an Average American, you are an Average American, in truth, what is an Average American? See what you are merely doing is applying your understanding and noted biases to your theorem that you imply is representative of “Average American” thought? Which is false, because their is no true way to gauge such things. Primarily because you and I claim the same title yet hold two different views.

    My point in my initial diatribe was to display this myth that is perpetrated that Islam and Muslims can be placed in a selective box that non-Muslims such as yourself under the auspice of an Average American decide is the true “everyday” belief.

    Maybe the collective thought process of the groups you belong to believe that way, but I can tell you that the “average” black person in America doesn’t regard Islam in the way you do, as most of us have Muslim family members, and many of us regard Farrakhan and the NOI as heroes/leaders.

    So which “Average” America do you speak for? I completely disagree with your assessment that you know what Average Americans believe. Now if we were talking about the average middle to upper class white American, then we may have something. But minorities in America don’t see Islam through the prism that you do, and are closely alighned with my thought process Muslim or not.

    Now to speak to the Average America you represent, I believe your data and beliefs toward Islam and Muslims is biased and based on falsehood. Since it’s inception, Islam/Muslims have pioneered science, mathematics, medicine, trade, navigation, etc. Through these pioneering acheivements Islam spread to the world.

    Revisionist historians, aka Europeans, wrote his story to reflect nothing but negative ideas about culture(s) they did not understand or couldn’t believe were more advanced than themselves. This is reflected in almost every his storical text as it relates to non-European cultures from a European perspective.

    As such we see such negative commentary through Orientalist writings that have resurfaced today in major propanda approaches to shape minds. I believe most of your ideas find their root their.

    Prior to 9/11 Islam/Muslims were not viewed in the light they are today, only in “select” circles. That is because true to actual facts the majority of Muslims have been active participants in American society and culture. However, after 9/11 new claims and accusations were raised and implied on a group largely ignored previously in order to shape public opinion that somehow Islam is now a foreign-Arab concept, with no compatibility with the west.

    Those who took the bait were the “average American” the constituency I believe you represent. Based on a fear that was largely unknown to them, i.e. being the majority with power and control of all others, being now shaken it was easy to feed anything to this group, hence the idea that a religion and people that have been in America since it’s exception, are not all of a sudden “different”.

    This group has been groomed to ignore the reality that a good chunk of Western “advancement” and culture are bi-products of Islamic/Muslim influence. Not to mention the revisionist history about the relationship between Jews and Muslims, which in truth compared to that of Christians and Jews, is by far much closer and peaceful, but I digress…

    There is but one Islam, the sad truth is “average Americans” care not to examine what that is, but choose to define it according to their “needs”.

    However, like every religion, group, or nation, their are those who claim Islam as their faith that do good and do bad.

    The hypocrisy comes in when that truest of all truths is not recognized and wrongly applied to suit ignorant agenda’s.

    The hypocrisy comes in when it is easy to distinguish the actions of a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, etc. and be able to seperate them from the larger faith group or community, yet when it comes to Islam, people refuse to use the same logic.

    This refusal is blatantly rooted in an agenda based on willful ignorance. The justification to ignore logic is based on the false history…i.e. “throughout history Muslims…..therefore Muslims today are….” or “if you read verse….in the Quran…it is easy to see why Muslims…”.

    Now the question is how are such comments applied? When one already ignores facts and says that Islamic history is steeped in violence and aggression against others…contrary to the overwhelming reality that Islamic history is steeped in progressive ideas and peaceful relations with other cultures, then it’s easy to recognize the bias in it’s inception. Not to mention the idea that somehow you can isolate a verse or saying or two, or a historical event or two and apply it to over 1400 years of history, thousands of verses and sayings and a billion plus people and say your belief or understanding is definitive.

    Hypocrisy is when one doesn’t accept the same standard for themselves as they impose on others. If one can skew the truth about Islam and Muslims based on isolated understandings, then one should be able to do the same for other religions, groups, and nations.

    So the “Average Americans” should easily be able to apply their “logic” about Muslims to both Christianity and America and concede that in the former for almost 2000 years Christians have been a backward, isolated, supremist people, who want to shape the world in their image. This has included the destruction, enslavement, and colonializing of various peoples, meanwhile imposing their beliefs on others. In the case of the European strand, this meant to impose the idea of a Caucasian god and lord, that is superior to the cursed inferior races and ethnicities of other people and/or gods. In the case of the latter, throughout its several year history, this country has been responsible for the brutal enslavement of millions of Africans, the majority of Muslim majority nations, denied, killed and destroyed those peoples religion, culture, and history, and continously denied their descendants basic human rights, that while proclaimed in their government documents, were only meant to apply to white males. Not to mention this war loving country has not gone one century in it’s history without a war, conflict, or battle against another nation, people, or even itself. This nation while proclaiming superiority over the world is the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons on another, while staunchly ensuring only countries of it’s choosing have the right to posses said arsenals. This brutal Empire currently have military personnel in every corner on the globe in both temporary and permanent foreign military installations in order to project and maintain it’s strength….

    Now, like I said, if you want to deal in truth, I’m more then willing, but when you come to the table floating one-sided half truths, attempting to get the beam out of others eyes and not your own, then I am scripturally compelled to call you and those of like mind as they are.”

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