I confess: I spend far too much time on social media. I’ve cut back but, even so, it’s not hard to find me sitting in the passenger seat of the car, scrolling through my newsfeed.
A worse confession: I read the comments. Sometimes I only read the comments. I rarely comment, myself. I’m a stalker.
I like reading the comments, especially when I know people are going to oppose my set opinions because, how else can we learn and grow? How else can we understand those who are different? If we never listen to those who are passionately opposed to us, how we can we love our neighbor? As a Christian, that’s a big deal to me.
So I stalk. I read. I hopefully learn something.
But when it comes to the subject of Muslim Americans I notice those who stand opposite my view point are getting louder and more extreme (ironic, really). I want to say so many things, but there are only so many hours in a day and my blood pressure can only withstand so much irritation, so I refrain.
Then, today, I slipped a little.
I read an article (not just the comments) on the youngcons.com facebook page entitled “SICK: Female Muslim-American Olympian Slams USA Because She…”
A few quick notes. First, yes, I know it was total click bait. It worked. You got me. So be it.
Second, as far as I can tell the article has been taken down. I can’t find it again and the link from Facebook will no longer open to my computer (see the original FB feed, here).
Third, I’ve never looked at the “Young Conservatives” website before. They had a lot of articles that seemed unbiased and well researched, though every article that mentioned a Muslim from any nation painted them in a poor light. Apparently, hating Muslims is part of being conservative, in the opinion of that particular group of people.
Since I can’t open the article, I’ll give you the gist.
Ibtihaj Muhammad competed in the Olympics. She was the first American athlete to compete in a hijab. She has publicly discussed her feeling that it is difficult to be a black, Muslim woman in America. She feels she has been frequently discriminated against. For example, one day after practice a man followed her, telling her she looked suspicious and asking if she was going to blow something up.
The writer took a stance along the lines of, “This is America. Quit complaining. Suck it up or get out.”
My first reaction was to re-read the article. Maybe I missed something?
A week or so ago I read another article (I think it was on NPR) that discussed the incident of the man following her. As a woman, I felt that weird, frightened, annoyed, creeping sensation that comes when men harass us. It’s not pleasant. Add in the weight of basically being accused of being a terrorist… well… I thought she handled the whole thing with a great deal of grace.
But, according the author, the fact that this encounter was upsetting to her is SICK. (His caps, not mine.)
She’s downright un-American because she didn’t like a stranger accusing her of being a mass murderer.
I clicked on the comments.
I really need to stop doing that.
There is no way I could have the time or motivation to change the world one Facebook comment at a time (sarcasm intended), but I’d like to use this space to address a few of those I read. Because it’s my blog and I can rant if I want to.
It’s not so much that THIS guy’s post pushed me to write something. It’s because the sentiments I read in his post and in the comments have been expressed in connection to other news related to Muslim Americans. I’ve even heard a few people say these kinds of things in person and I would be in the wrong to sit in silence.
A few comments, of the many:
“when someone comes to America…. they must become American. Not force us to become muslum! She needs to take off the head gear… wear skinny jeans and use her middle finger like a New Yorker! That is the American way!” – Timothy
First: If being American means wearing skinny jeans and using your middle finger, most of the people in my circle of acquaintance are thoroughly un-American.
Second: No one seems to have an issue with “Greektown,” or “Little Italy,” or “Germanfest.” A guy down the road has an Irish flag on his porch. Nobody is freaking out about that. Why do we hold one particular group of people to a different standard? We are ALL from somewhere else (unless you are one of the very few indigenous people left in this nation). We all celebrate our cultural past. My father-in-law is as Irish as Darby O’Gill and is a die-hard patriotic decorated war veteran. No one accuses him of being un-American. Not that that applies in this case anyway since Ibtihaj Muhammad’s family has been in this country since just about as long as any of us.
Third: Muslim is not a nationality. It’s a religion. Like Christianity, or Judaism, or Wiccan. Would you tell an Amish woman to “take off that stupid bonnet and act like an American!” Would you rip the yarmulka from a Jewish man’s head? Her modesty, including the hijab that covers her hair, is part of her worship.
You want to restrict her worship? OK. Then I hope you are the LAST person to complain when someone comes after YOUR faith.
If you are reading this, and you’re all upset and ready to do battle with me at this point, I’m guessing you’re a big gun-rights supporter. (Yup. I’m psychic.)
You know how you get REALLY ANGRY when the government tries to create gun control in any form? That violates the second amendment, right?
Well… when we discriminate against ANY religion, we are violating the first amendment. The first amendment doesn’t protect Christianity, exclusively. It protects freedom of religion, in all it’s many varied forms. If you take away a little bit of rights from a certain group of people, you have created a slippery slope on which no person of faith is safe. Same reasoning as the second amendment stuff, right?
Except, Islam existed when the constitution was written, and fully automatic weapons did not. So there’s some differences. But, for this example, we’ll say it’s the same and move on to another comment.
“If all those who hate American please leave. But leave behind what you got from America your freedom, the money you gained from working here, your homes, and etc. Tired of all the complaining. If America is so bad please leave! Let people who love America live in peace.” -Diane
I’m assuming that this commenter believes the athlete in question “hates American” because she complained about being discriminated against. Let’s use that logic and make a list of people who clearly hated America over the years: Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, John F. Kennedy, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King…
Those who love their nation, the true patriots, will constantly and consistently work to call out injustice and correct it to the betterment of their country.
And really? Peace? With that attitude? Good luck with that.
“Send this pathetic excuse back to where she came from and see how safe she feels. How dare you come to our country and complain about this great country and that you feel unsafe when you have the privilege of all the benefits that Obama is giving you on the taxpayers expense.” -Abby
Uhm… She came from New Jersey. Her father was a police officer in New Jersey. Her family has been in the United States for several generations.
She IS unsafe, because of mindsets like this, and she’d be foolish not to try to address the issues that create that mindset.
Her early fencing career was sponsored by former Olympian, Peter Westbrook. She attended an ivy league university on a full academic scholarship. She is currently sponsored by Nike, among others. No tax payer money was involved in her success.
“Maybe if she didn’t dress like a terrorist people wouldn’t be so quick to judge her!!!” -Jim
Well, Jim, I bet you dress just like every single serial killer who has ever lived in the USA. Perhaps we should take a double look at how you spend YOUR free time, eh?
“I am so sick of hearing that’s it’s ok for Islam faith to say what ever the hell feel , but God forbitt for a Chrisitain to do the same .” – Carmen
This one was a little hard to read. Literally. (Please work on your spelling and grammar, Carmen.) I’ll do my best to explain…
You know what I’m realizing?
The other day my children had a conversation that went something like this:
5 YO: “I don’t like potatoes.”
11 YO: “Why not? Potatoes are delicious!”
5 YO: “They’re too salty.”
11 YO: “Well, don’t put salt on them.”
5 YO: “Food without salt is gross!”
11 YO: “Can’t argue with logic like that!”
I want to offer a bit of logic and solve all these disputes but the fact of the matter is, there’s nothing logical about hatred. People aren’t being logical. People are being hateful and there’s no counter for hatred outside of love.
So I will stop trying to reason with those who have no desire to see beyond themselves and I will stand in love.
Well done, Ibtihaj Muhammad. America loves you. You held your head high in the face of discrimination, and you competed at a level most of us dare not even dream of. Most of America is incredibly proud of you. The rest… well… they’re a little confused. Since you, as a Muslim, and I, as a Christian, pray to the same God who created us all, perhaps we can pray together that peace and reason will prevail in our lifetime. I wish you the best of luck in the team events later this week. Thank you for being an example to my daughters of what a strong, determined woman of faith should look like.
CREDIT: VALERIE MACON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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