Rednecks and the Eid Stamp

Rednecks and the Eid Stamp September 17, 2009


Sabiwabi pointed out a new and sure-fire way of gauging redneck-itude.* Being up in arms about the Eid stamp. 

My point isn't that everyone can be reasonably expected to welcome it with open arms in these contentious times. In our ever changing society with all its competing worldviews and lifestyles, to find all developments in cultural and social life to be equally welcome would seem more likely a sign of a cognitive disorder than tolerance or enlightenment.  If a person is ambivalent or even downright uncomfortable with what they perceive Islam or Muslim culture to be –as many undoubtedly well meaning non-Muslim observers today are (thanks IMO as much to sensationalized and dumbed-down media coverage as to the actual conflicts that wrack modern life)–I can't blame her for greeting the Eid Stamp with indifference or even a bit of anxiety. It's not unlike how a person from a previous, less culturally eclectic generation of American might react to the sight of bilingual English/Spanish signs in the hospital, seeing them as the latest evidence of his side losing a zero-sum game for cultural influence. 

Still, it is one thing to be dismayed by cultural or demographic developments one finds unwelcome and another to neurotically view them as an existential threat to Ma, Dad and apple pie.  The latter reaction signals intense prejudice in the overwhelming majority of cases.

An aside: There was a time when one could reasonably have argued that anti-Muslim sentiment didn't warrant being cast as a "phobia" in American life, but, boy, are those halcyon days long gone. The paranoia and prejudice polluting our culture today about Islam (whether it be the latest conspiracy theory about the Eid Stamp** or this bizarre hoax among Islam-bashers about Hamas and pedophilia ) is only getting more shrill and psychologically disturbed.

It's ironic: The people most likely to object to comparisons between Muslims and Jews in terms of prejudice are busy undermining their case and making that comparison seem ever more commonsensical and uncontroversial. With our air thick with all this of hate and fear, how can a reasonably well informed person deny that, at least for some important segments of the Right, Muslims are indeed the new "Jews", second-class citizens to be marginalized and openly ridiculed? (Some–such as the  neo-Nazi British National Party–are already openly acknowledging that they have moved their cross-hairs off Jews and retrained them on Muslims.)

* With all due apologies to the many decent "rednecks" out there, some of whom I call kin.

** See Sheila Musaji's article for more.

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