Reading time – 4:04; Viewing time – 5:41 . . .
Get a head start on the weekend: This is Sunday’s Disambiguation on Thursday so you’ll be ready for Saturday.
Earlier this year the Muslim Student Alliance of Niles West High School in Skokie, IL presented Truths to Combat Hate: Islamophobia Edition. The presentation concluded with the following prompt:
“What is the one thing you wish all non-Muslim members of your community knew or understood?”
The prompt was an opportunity to provide student voice and to broaden the collective understanding of the Muslim community. Here’s what some of the Muslim students had to say (edited lightly):
“I hate ISIS, too.”
“Muslims love Jesus. Also, I love everybody and hate terrorism as much as you guys do.”
“I do not wear my hijab because I am forced to. I wear it because I feel the most comfortable in it. So please stop asking me if I want to take it off.”
“No, I don’t wear my headscarf in the shower.”
“Terrorism is not a religion.”
“We as Muslims experience a lot of hate. And if not direct hate, then side glances, back stabs, and unfair judgments.”
“Jihad doesn’t mean suicide bombing white people. Jihad means the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin.”
“Washing my hands, feet, and face in the bathroom is part of the process for me to be able to pray. It’s not because I don’t own a shower.”
“Muslims are friendly people and you should not be afraid of us. At least to get to know us before you judge us.”
Hmmm . . . maybe Muslims are a lot like you and me. Kudos to the kids for speaking up and for their clarity.
Please pass this along to your intolerant friends and family members and after they’ve read it, ask them what they learned. If they just can’t be comfortable without having an enemy to hate, then tell them to find a different one. How about Vladimir Putin? Or the Koch brothers? Or the obstructionists in Congress?
Many thanks to the Muslim Student Alliance and the administration at Niles West High School for permission to share this with you, because . . .
A fundamental need under authoritarian rule is to have an enemy, someone who is “other” and whom you can blame for any misfortune or suffering you bear – you know, a scapegoat – like the Muslims Trump demonizes. Oh, and those wonderful kids at Niles West High School – they’re the very people he wants you to fear and hate and keep out of America. There’s nothing like an enemy to both inspire passion and get everyone lined up behind the authoritarian. As Darth Vader instructed, “You don’t know the power of the dark side.” Turns out he was right.
And it’s being used to manipulate you every day. It’s what’s behind Trump’s Muslim ban and his declaration that Mexicans are rapists and murderers and his demonization of the press. He’s trained his 38% to respond to those dog whistles and it’s powerful stuff – they’re the power moves of an authoritarian – so powerful that we are incrementally sliding into fascism.
Something that any mental health professional will tell you is that victims always victimize. For example, if someone was victimized as a child, odds are enormous that he will victimize others when he’s an adult. I don’t know what happened to the haters who showed up in Charlottesville or to Dylann Roof or to Donald Trump, but one thing is clear: There is a lot of hate and victimization going on and it is leading this country in a very dark direction.
Trump is just the key actor now, but there are plenty more.* Trump’s thirst for power and his concurrent attacks on others whom he perceives as an enemy is exactly what Kim Jung-un does in North Korea. And in Trump’s infinite neediness for power and approval, he is incrementally dismantling the foundations of our democracy. Exactly what do you think will fill that void?
Mark November 4 on your calendar right now because you’re occupado that day. Click here to access the November 4 It Begins web page. Read it, scan down to Find an event near you, then sign up and show up. That’s how we begin to stop the slide into fascism and start the return to democracy. That’s how we begin to counter the victimization. That’s how we begin to stop the hate.
*BTW – Steve Bannon is on a weight loss program now, looking prettier already. As you watch him spew his hatred, keep and eye open for a presidential run from him in 2020.
General John Kelly stupided out his views on the Civil War, defending Robert E. Lee and declaring that the war wasn’t about slavery. Instead of listening to him and others attempt to rewrite history with their self-serving snapshots of well treated, happy slaves, treat yourself to some facts by reading the string on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Twitter feed here. Scroll down to the Oct. 31 entry that begins, “Regarding John Kelly’s creationist theorizing on Lee and the Civil War,” and then read up the string. Be sure to watch the embedded video by Col. Ty Seidule. Many thanks to David Leonhardt of the New York Times for his heads-up to this enlightening string.
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.