I find it hard to find words to adequately articulate how I feel about the state of the Muslim world so far in 2011. As we enter the 3rd month of the year we have witnessed historic revolutions in the Muslim world. Dictator after dictator seemingly fall from power weekly as the cries for Democracy are getting louder and louder. In my naïveté, I actually believed that here at home, the debate about who Muslims are and what we stand for would be elevated since millions of Muslims have peacefully demonstrated that we do want freedom, liberty, and desire those values that make our nation so great. Boy was I wrong!
I now read the news with growing horror and disgust as I see my country steadily embracing a historical trend better left in Jim Crow era. In Orange County, CA I watched with tears in my eyes as “peaceful protestors” screamed insults and slurs at Muslim families as they met for a fundraiser to help the homeless and abused in their community. As a parent I felt the parents pain as they had to walk the vicious gauntlet with their children as fellow Americans hurled accusations like “you beat your wife and rape your children” and all I could think about as I watched such viciousness and hate on national display was the videos of black students walking a similar gauntlet during the desegregation battles of my Grandparent’s youth.
I tell myself, to ignore these people, to remember it’s just a lunatic fringe of Americans who just hate those different than themselves and Muslims just happen to be the minority of the month and it would be gay or Hispanic communities any other day. Many Muslims try to stay optimistic and soldier on through this disgusting and horrific displays of the worst of America and just when we exhale, we then have elected officials holding BS hearings about Muslims as if we are public enemy number one.
I try so hard to ignore this madness, but what drives me crazy is knowing that people like Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel, Walid Shoebat, and the other axis of Islamophobes make millions fueling the flames of intolerance and providing McCarthy wannabes like Rep. Peter King ample supporters to continue his farce with our tax dollars. At least two of the characters masquerading as “experts” on my religion I have had the unfortunate pleasure of debating and the one thing I often ask myself after such encounters is what are they actually contributing to our country?
Many Muslims like me serve this nation in her armed forces or in federal employ. We leave our families and give our all to this nation and what do we get in return? We get an elected official singling us out as some sort of 5th column and a mainstream media obsessed with these snake oil salesmen demonizing us on national television to line their pockets.
It’s beyond disgusting when you sit back and think about it, because I know what’s it’s like to actually pledge an oath to this country and serve to the best of my ability, but what have these critics done?
The cruel irony is that many Muslims everyday pledge an oath to protect and defend with our lives if necessary, the very rights these millionaire darlings of the GOP use to insult, defame, and demonize our lives, faith, families, and service to our God, our Country, and in some cases our Corps.
It is said that the only way to defend against such bile is through education and for a time I used to believe that. In some cases it may be true, but as of late I have come to the conclusion that some people just hate because it’s in their nature. They build themselves up and make themselves feel superior by tearing down others and the sickness in their minds and hearts can only be removed by sincere repentance and devotion to God. Now some may say that these people are “Christians” but remember that as many in the south hung black bodies from trees with their families and eating popcorn, often it was after church services.
So what are we Muslims and other Americans of good conscience to do?
I believe it’s time to be coherent in our response and speak plain truths like we have never done before. No more explaining Islamic terms and dissecting Arabic for the American people. No more contextualizing and explaining Islamic theology. It’s time to be straight forward in our response, the truth is that those opposed to our very existence in our nation, don’t care what we say and those that do can use Google.
We don’t have to explain away our humanity within the context of religious themes they are already prejudiced against, let’s just point out the obvious that we are American too whether they like it or not, and as Americans it’s time to call these bigots out directly and plainly in the best of manners lest we look like fools as they do.
We pray different, so what? If some find issue with that then there are concise ways to deal with that, vote the enterprising politicians out using hate to bolster their chances. Boycott publishing and media outlets that pay the wages of the purveyors of hate. Since many of us own private businesses refuse to serve them. Call the police and have them removed off our private property when we hold events.
We are Americans and if we must fight for our civil rights like my forefathers did, then so be it.
What we can not do is retreat to our homes and pray. They are taking our silence for weakness. Let us not forget that the Muslims in the East have shown that it’s possible to produce change using peaceful methods, maybe we should consider a Muslim March on Washington to preserve our civil rights, liberties, and freedoms against a wealthy and organized consortium of political and financial opportunists.
Could you imagine if any other religious groups were singled out like this? I couldn’t imagine it ever being OK to question whether Judaism is actually a religion and bills introduced to outlaw Jewish religious law and observance.
Why should we stand by and accept oppression when so many of us bleed on the battlefield for these basic inalienable rights? These so-called “experts” have served no one but themselves and their financial planners, it’s time for American Muslims who protect, defend, and serve this country to make our voices heard.