7 November 2009

In  the aftermath of the tragic killings at Fort Hood, count on the right-wing media to spin the anti-Muslim sentiment at high speed.

The ridiculous light-speed jump to anti-Islamic charges has been noted by many journalists, bloggers and opinionaters (is that a word? well, at least in my world it is…).  I doubt fact-seekers are among those who hang on every word of the Foxinistas spouting the anti-Muslim rhetoric, so those folks won’t be listening to anyone who says “slow down, think this through, let’s not jump to conclusions.”

My mind immediately went back to Colin Powell’s words, over a year ago, when he publicly endorsed Obama’s candidacy for president on Meet the Press. He was responding to insinuations by some Republicans that Obama is a Muslim.

“Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian,” he said. “But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He’s a Muslim and he might be associated [with] terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”
[emphasis mine]

My mind also went to the many others who’ve gone off unexpectedly to kill and maim large numbers of people, most of whom were white and male and Christian.  So, we should be suspicious of all whites? all men? all Christians?  Anybody remember Timothy McVeigh?  Not Muslim, by the way.  How about the multiple postal workers who’ve wrecked mayhem on fellow postal workers – should we consider all postal employees as dangerous?  How about clergy who abuse the young – should we suspect ALL of them? This sort of thinking is just silly, potentially harmful, and is what led us to cruelly and needlessly interning thousands of Japanese-Americans in World War II.  And Powell’s right, that’s not America.  We fundamentally stand on the idea that the United States can accommodate multiple belief systems, and provide opportunities for people of many different backgrounds.

I am weary of people jumping on band wagons, whether they be anti-Muslim ones or anything else.  It’s a horrible knee-jerk reaction, to assume the actions of one, or even a few, represent the interests and intentions of an entire group.  It doesn’t further any kind of insight.  It muddies the waters.  And it doesn’t help.