Against Islamophobia

Against Islamophobia December 21, 2018

I recently got into a Facebook debate with someone who was convinced all Muslims were basically evil. I’m fairly sure no group of people is entirely evil unless we’re talking Nazis or similarly extremist bigoted views, and here’s why.

A photo of Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan. Taken by Hussain Ibrahim, from Unsplash, in public domain.

I know I shouldn’t get into Facebook debates with people I don’t know very well, and this was no exception, but it pained me to see this dude spouting off about how Muslims shouldn’t be allowed within our borders or whatever. I thought to myself, “If my second-year college students can grasp the concept of Islamophobia, surely a middle-aged man can too!”

Dear reader, I was wrong.

Islamophobia, for those unfamiliar with the term, refers to prejudiced hatred and fear of all Muslims based on extremist or unrealistic stereotypes.

I had unfortunately wound up talking to someone who had served in the armed forces overseas and thus seems to have only run into the extremist, violent types of Muslims, which I get can color a person’s opinion of the whole group.

But it makes no more sense to hate all Muslims based on the actions of a few than it does to hate all Christians, Jews, Hindus, or Buddhists based on the actions of a few, and boy have all these other religions also racked up hate crimes, massacres, and more.

I can only imagine a person dropped into Spain at the height of the Inquisition deciding that all Catholics must be the worst kind of humans. Or a person dropped into a KKK-run American town half a century ago deciding that white Christians are all the worst kinds of bigots. And so on.

Every major religion’s history and folklore is filled with us vs. them conflict, with myths and legends not only describing but also justifying horrible brutalities. I believe it is warranted to be skeptical of these religions for these reasons (and it’s part of why I’m an atheist), but there’s a difference between being skeptical of a religion for its potential to manifest in the worst ways, and being blanket-bigoted towards all practitioners of those religions.

Towards the end of this Facebook debate I was accused of not being grateful enough towards people like him for their efforts to prevent Muslims from taking over this country among others and making life hell for people like me. I’d already tuned out by that point, but hey, I don’t want any religion in my government, Christian or Muslim or otherwise, thank you very much. And American Muslims are apparently more accepting of queer folks than white evangelical Christians are, so I’m partially thinking I’ll take my chances, dude.

When is it warranted to loathe a whole group on sight, and does that ever apply to religious groups? When that group’s doctrine and majority wants to strip other groups of their basic human rights, then yeah, I’d say you have a case, and yes, that sometimes applies to religious groups. But it applies to ostensibly secular groups too, like white supremacists and incels, two groups responsible for recent hate crimes and mass shootings here in America.

Also, anyone who screams about how Muslims treats women obviously hasn’t reflected on the situation here in a while. Here’s an image I like to show in my college classes:

So if you’ve encountered bad Muslims, I’m sorry, that sucks. I’m more worried about the Christians who want to take away my reproductive rights, and electrocute younger versions of me for being queer. I’m not a fan of organized religions hence am a little annoyed at having to defend them, but if you’re going to mistrust an entire group, do it based on the ones that peddle hatred and recruit based on that platform. Any faith or following can be twisted to become a hateful one, but let’s focus on ousting actual hate groups first and foremost.

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