Prejudice: Thank you, Rev. Creight Lovelace!

Oh, really?

I am thankful to Rev. Creighton Lovelace, pastor of Danieltown Baptist Church, for speaking his mind. Recently Rev. Lovelace placed a sign in front of his church in Rutherford County North Carolina which read “The Koran Needs To Be Flushed!” I wish more people in America would say how they truly feel about Islam and Muslims as bluntly and as publicly as Rev. Lovelace.

Of course Rev. Lovelace is an insensitive, narrow minded and shortsighted man. As a non-Christian I am sure I would not feel welcome in his church. I have a hunch that only a handful or fewer of his 55 church members would ever make me feel at home in their presence either, because to them I am a hell-bound Christ-denier (even though as a Muslim I revere Jesus as the son of the virgin Mary who performed miracles and brought the Word of God to the world).

And yet I am thankful for his incendiary words because they help bring to light the steadily growing Islamophobia in the United States. Here is a just a small sampling of this Islamophobia:

“The Koran needs to be flushed twice. It’s a long way to Iran.”

“What an evil intolerant man, he has such gall to criticize a book that urges people to kill everyone that doesn’t convert to Islam.”

“All those Koran Islamic countries are murdering and purging Christians out of their country. So….we cant even make a comment in the bad way about the Koran or Islam. Give me a break. Islam and Koran= murder. I hope the pastor leaves up the sign and sticks to his guns.”

The foregoing are quotes pulled from the internet. Here are a few snippets from my personal hate email collection:

“What made America successful was not islamic religion but judeo-christian belief and work ethic. If it were not for oil in the middle east muslims would still be jockeying around on camels.” (William Carmack, Vietnam Vet 101st Airborne 68/69)

“Allah (may pork fat be upon him) must be proud of you. You are the enemy of America. Mohammad (may pig blood be upon him) is a sissy pig fucker.” (Daniel J. Carroll)

“You have a lot of chutzpah sir. Your brothers in religion downed the WTC, and are busy killing themselves and their own people with bombs, etc. Tell me about Mr. Chertoff and civil rights. You have no right to comment at all. I don’t care if you’re a lawyer or a Muslim God of some type. Clean up you religion and your people and I might think you have a right to comment. In the meantime, why not just be quiet until you have a right to say something. Learn how to accept and live American society, not bitch about it. Far as I’m concerned, you just show the value of yourself and all your people. Zip!” (Edward O. Thomas)

These comments clearly represent a vitriolic hatred of Islam and Muslims. Such sentiments are widespread. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) counted recorded 1,522 incidents of civil rights violations against Muslim in 2004. According to CAIR this is a 49 percent increase over 2003. CAIR also noted a 52 percent rise in bias crimes against Muslims in 2004.

While these statistics are startling, the situation for Muslims in the United States is far worse. For every Muslim who does make a report of discrimination or a bias crime there are many others who do not. This is because many more Muslims choose not to report incidents of discrimination, civil rights violations and bias crimes out of fear of reprisal and due to a sense of helplessness.

And even if more Muslims reported their experiences of discrimination and hate crimes, they would become just another statistic. Very few Americans give any consideration to statistics and empirical data � regardless of the issue.

On the other hand, spectacular, raunchy, gruesome events are what make headlines, and in the United States these headliner events shape public opinion. Rev. Lovelace�s insensitivity garnered far more attention nationally than any one or even 50 civil rights lawsuits ever could.

Of course, all this attention would be for naught if there were no reasonable, fair-minded people to counter-balance the Rev. Lovelaces of America. My personal belief is that most Americans are reasonable and fair-minded. Rev. Lovelace represents a perspective that is repugnant to the majority of Americans.

Thank you Rev. Lovelace for exercising your First Amendment rights by sharing your heartfelt and ugly sentiments with us. We are all the wiser as a result.

Junaid M. Afeef is a Research Associate at the Institute for Social Policy & Understanding. His articles are available at www.ispu.us He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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