Muslims and Anti-Muslim Rhetoric
Sheila Musaji, editor of The American Muslim, lays out nearly every anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic statement Cain has made over the course of his presidential run thus far. I urge you to check it out.
So what do you say to such a man, when responding to him only expands his 15 minutes?
In the American Muslim community, this debate is waged whenever any pundit or politician spouts some blatant anti-Muslim statements or rhetoric. Do we counter-respond? Disagree? Engage in debate? Will doing so sway anyone's opinions? Or will it just give more attention to people and statements that probably don't deserve attention in the first place?
What makes this debate even trickier is that even though many American Muslims feel compelled to provide a sane, intelligent response when faced with anti-Islamic rhetoric, Cain and others like him are not interested in conversing with Muslims at all. They aren't talking to us. They're just talking about us, and if we talk back, they won't listen.
I don't think Cain is a man to be swayed from his opinions regarding Islam and Muslims. How do you teach sense to man who said in an interview with Christianity Today, "The role of Muslims in American society is for them to be allowed to practice their religion freely, which is part of the First Amendment. The role of Muslims in in America is not to convert the rest of us to the Muslim religion. That I resent. Because we are a Judeo-Christian nation.... And so I push back and reject them trying to convert the rest of us. And based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them."
There's so much wrong with that statement, and with so many of his statements towards Muslims, that I, like so many American Muslims, want to take him on. But will it matter? Or is it a waste of time? Are we left completely outside of the conversation about us?
American Muslims answer that question on a case-by-case basis. And at the end of the day, I can only pray that common sense, mutual understanding, religious respect, and human dignity will prevail.
Dilshad D. Ali is managing editor of the Muslim Portal at Patheos. An experienced journalist, she has covered Islam and Muslims in America for more than ten years for a variety of print and online media outlets, including Beliefnet and Illume, Islamica, and Azizah Magazines.