Tuesday, February 21, 2017
It's not about being political. It's about being human.
"I am angry," I said on Saturday as we were driving through Somers Point. MFD was shoving Goldfish crackers in his mouth in the passenger seat. I glanced over, not sure if he heard me. Just as I was about to freak out and accuse him of not listening to me, he turned the radio down and said cautiously, "Well, it's good that you recognize that. What are you angry about?"
Let us begin.
Words have been hard for me. I'm grasping. Distracted. Skimming the surface and lacking in personality in this space. I sit down to type things out and my brain just won't articulate. My friend Heather wrote a post about blogging in post-election America Friday. It wasn't until I read it from a writer I respect that I realized that was it. Heather's subjects are more serious and her writing more eloquent than mine, but it felt good to see something I've internalized. YES, my spirit said. I see my reflection there.
What the hell does my weekend recipe matter when I find myself sitting in a room with a small group of people on a beautiful Saturday morning listening to two Muslim women field questions about their faith and culture?
I went to a Meet a Muslim event Saturday to be a friendly face. Sitting in that chair, I felt anything but friendly. I wanted to stand up and scream STOP. STOP DEFENDING YOUR WAY OF LIFE AND YOUR RELIGION BECAUSE YOU'VE DONE NOTHING WRONG.
I didn't want to scream AT these women speaking, of course. These women were intelligent, coming from a place of yes, and a little out of their comfort zones. They don't do this for a living. They were just there as people, talking to other people. I kept thinking how brave as they fielded questions. Imagine you, a Christian for argument's sake, standing up and attempting to answer questions on behalf of ALL Christians. Impossible. There are so many different types of Christians, and levels of belief within those different sects, and some individual and larger groups of Christians who have done really awful things, so you certainly don't want to speak on their behalf. I mean, the Nazis were pretty staunchly Christian, and the KKK is still loudly and proudly Christian. The quite Christian pro-birth movement has set fires to women's health centers, murdered doctors, and gunned down clinic workers. All acts of terror for sure, committed in the name of religion. Do we want to define other Christians by those people? Hell no! Swap out Christianity and Islam and the answer is hell yes.
The very fact that this type of meeting, an attempt to reassure us and educate us, is even happening is what boils my blood. This is where we are as a society? We treat crimes by white Christians as one off, out of the ordinary, the exception to every rule, something a mentally unstable person did. We don't assign violence as an aspect of their culture, religion, or race as indicative of a larger problem that the rest of us should be afraid of. And we won't even admit that we frame them differently.
So no. I don't want these women to have to spend Saturdays answering questions about being a Muslim and I don't want to write about this because it is common sense. I want ALL of us to spend our time living as human beings, not worrying about other asshole human beings. This enrages and exhausts me and hurts my heart. If I am feeling like that as I sit in a place of privilege, I truly cannot imagine what my fellow Americans who are Muslim are feeling.
This is beyond politics. We can talk all day about politicians and how they behave and what they do. But when they point to a group of people and tell us to fear them and we do that? That's on us. That is on every single one of us. That is being complicit or not being complicit in the persecution of others. And we've seen what has happened at the other end of that many times throughout history, haven't we? When people were largely accepting of things that might have been legal at the time but were absolutely morally wrong? Do we want to be people who were blindly led to fear others and acquiesced?
I don't. I won't. Put me on the fucking watchlist. You can drag me kicking and screaming away along with them.
Please don't think this is not happening. There is a Muslim Watchlist. Bank accounts are being frozen. People at airports and borders are being questions about their religious and political beliefs and asked to hand over their social media handles and cell phone pass codes. For no other reason aside from being Muslim.
We have a chance to change the outcome. We do not have to watch people be subject to crazy bullshit or be taken away in the night. We must be good neighbors who stand up for one another even if that person looks different or worships differently.
I would venture to guess most people grouping the over 1.6 billion Muslims in this world together as a group of people worthy of suspicion have probably not met or spoken to many Muslims...that they know of. If they have, they somehow convince themselves that the Muslims they know personally are okay, but the others out there...questionable.
I listened to these women Saturday speak about feminism in Islam, how LGBTQ people are treated, the work Mosques are doing in communities, what it means to wear hijab or not wear hijab, what this much talked about sharia law is, struggles within the community, etc., and thought if I substituted some words I could be listening to women talking about their experiences in Christianity or Judaism.
I wish there was some way we could have rotating weekly dinner parties with people who are different from us. When you put faces to these people, it is a lot harder to be okay with being hateful and fearful of something you don't know much about. They probably hate when people drive slow in the left and when people let their kids run around nice restaurants like assholes too. And I bet a lot of them cry at This is Us.
We are so much more alike than we are different. Peel the top layer off and there we are, all bleeding.