By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota
You’ve probably seen a Muslim in a public place at some point in time. Given the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, you probably went through the brief discomfort associated with the questions: “Is it wrong to feel suspicious about this guy?” and “How do I know he/she isn’t plotting something?”
Right wing pundits wish to make you believe that you’re being forced under the pressure of illogical “political correctness” to treat Muslims with equality. I’m here to tell you that you can put all notions of political correctness aside and simply look at the facts:
– By far, more Muslims have been victims to terrorist attacks worldwide than non Muslims. It is likely that the random Muslim you see at the mall will have a relative that was injured or killed by a terrorist attack somewhere in the world. Of all people, it is Muslims who have been suffering the most on the hands of terrorists, both directly by being attack targets and indirectly by becoming targets of increased bias from non Muslims.
Muslims know this, and they surely do not appreciate terrorists for making their lives more miserable.
– Muslim governments, religious scholars, and lay people have been more effective in fighting terrorism than all Western governments’ efforts. Millions of dollars spent on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not been as effective as the many, many Fatwas from prominent Muslim scholars condemning terrorism. Muslim governments in the Middle East have been at the forefront of fighting terrorists for decades. US politicians can attest to that, and more recognition of this fact should be portrayed by the media.
Moreover, Since 9/11, most Muslims have taken it upon themselves to be anti-terror advocates within their own communities. This has been a particularly powerful tool in internally curbing fanaticism, arguably far more effective than any surveillance measure or “sting” operation the FBI can enact. In other words, the next Muslim you meet has probably done more to hamper terrorism than you did. You’re welcome.
That said, Islamic centers in the US need to place more focus on creating engaged, socially active youth programs that strive for global justice while rejecting terrorism as a tool.
– On the other hand, people are quick to forget the policies and geopolitical/economic circumstances that feed anti-western fanfare. No radical Muslim scholar has been more inspirational to terrorists than the F16 or drone that bombs Muslim villages. The dire straits in which many U.S. policies put already rife Muslim nations often results in many negative attitudes being strengthened and confirmed among people in majority Muslim nations. Yes, you’ve heard that many times before – that doesn’t make it false.
– Lastly, it goes without saying that, statistically speaking, most mass shootings in the US have been perpetrated by non Muslims. That Muslim that you’re looking at is probably just as afraid of violence in society as you are. In addition, he or she probably is especially anxious because they feel that there’s a good chance of people being biased against them.
– American Muslims are giving up rights in order to avoid FBI scrutiny. The unabashedly brazen profiling against Muslims in airports, surveillance, and online activity, coupled with the many instances of complete overruling of the constitutional rights of Muslim US citizens, has forced many Muslims to “voluntarily” give up freedoms you enjoy. Many Muslims refrain from speaking their minds, buying weapons, or displaying pride in their religion for fear they may be subject to FBI monitoring. So before you think that Muslims enjoy all the rights and freedoms America has to offer, they don’t. That Muslim you’re suspicious of is paying the same taxes as you are while living less free.
– Even if, hypothetically speaking, right wing pundits get their way and all Muslims are driven out of the US, do you really think these pundits won’t find another minority to ostracize? Without a make-believe “enemy within”, they will all but surely evaporate spontaneously.
– Without Muslims, many Americans would be largely ignorant of world politics. Muslims in blogs, on Facebook, and in various walks of life have been instrumental in educating Americans about the other side of foreign affairs. This is, at the least, a strong enrichment for society if not an essential elixir for world peace.
– It’s just ridiculous to be suspicious of 1/5 of the world’s population. I mean, what kind of life is it when every fifth person you meet is an enemy until proven otherwise? The pundits are using your emotions to make profit while making you more anxious and afraid.
You can be the better person by shutting them off.