Might As Well Bomb
Copyright © by Len Holman, 12/7/10
If I’m being accused of every heinous act which occurs in school because I belong to an ethnic group, a few of whom are really bad people, and constantly branded as evil and no good at home because of the fact I live in the same neighborhood some who are truly evil, and if I am accused of being as bad as the rest of my group, even though I am nothing like any of them, if I am hounded harassed, and discriminated against in society by the leaders and opinion-makers of that society—even absent any facts that I am an evil person or even in the face of manufactured evidence which bears no resemblance to truth—then I’m going to start wondering if I am what everyone says I am. At the least, I’m going to wonder if there is anything I can do to get people to either like me, or at least ACCEPT me, to get people to see me—not as a part of a bad group, but as an individual. If I can’t, then my psychological options are slim, indeed. Did my deodorant quit? Do I have some clones out there who are bank robbers and gang bangers? Am I in an alternate universe where I am suddenly walking around with a spotlight shining down on me all the time? Such must be part of the feeling of Muslims in the U.S.
As a Muslim in the United States, I would, by now, be coming to a stark and disturbing—even sad and depressing—realization: No one is going to leave me alone. Very recently, yet ANOTHER shot was fired in the ongoing war against me and my fellow religionists. Oklahoma and several other states insist that their courts not base any decisions on Islamic or international law. In Oklahoma, where the waving wheat sure smells sweet, this proposed constitutional amendment is called the “Save Our State Amendment,” but it’s probably way too late for that. Islamic law, known as Shariah, is not a threat to our legal system. Lawyers are a bigger threat. It is used only in religious communities, the way Catholic canon law is or Jewish Halakhic law is. But terror is upon the land in Oklahoma, as the fear-mongering wind goes whipping down the plain.
The uproar over the mosque in New York, the anger at hijab-wearing women in Michigan, the stated-on-TV unease of putative “news” people who express their reluctance to sitting next to Arab-looking folks on airplanes (you never can be sure about them!), and the constant drumbeat of fear, anxiety, mocking and just plain bad-mouthing the public is subjected to 24/7 is enough to frustrate the average Zen master. How much of this can Muslims take? How much of it can the American public swallow? The answers: not much more, and apparently a LOT more—in that order. Muslims must give thanks to Allah every day (well, actually five times a day) for South American illegal immigrants, or they’d be out there all alone in the public’s scorn and anger and fear. Occasionally, gay men and women take center stage and catch all the hell, but the ebb and flow of wacko-generated upheavals gives them a little respite in between incidents. For Muslims, it never stops.
The Muslim response to the innuendo, anger, legislation, and fear parallels our president’s reaction to Conservatives and Tea Party zealots. He offers his hand, they bite it. He offers conciliation, they spit. He doggedly pursues his agenda of world engagement, and they plump for a return to the old America First movement and deride his efforts. Does he get angry? Does he go on the rhetorical offensive? Does he take the fight to the enemy? No, he hunkers down and waits patiently for the True Believers to come to their senses and see the wisdom of his long approach and to see the folly of their narrow, xenophobic views. He’s had no success, isn’t having any, and will have none, if the next Congress has anything to say about it—which it will.. Either he doesn’t get it, or he has a more optimistic outlook than Wile E. Coyote, who really believes that someday he’ll nail that damn roadrunner. Muslims want to believe that an occasional disclaimer by some mullah in Des Moines, and keeping their heads down and waiting patiently for the Know-Nothings to see the light will work. It will not, never has, never will. If you are a Muslim and read the papers or watch the tube or the internet, you know that all the angst, the anger and uproar over the TSA’s new, improved boxer short inspections—complete with intimate shots of genital jewelry –is all just because of you and your weird and dangerous beliefs. It never stops.
If you are a Muslim, you take little solace in what happened to Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is a scary and strangely familiar story to you now, after 9/11, but that doesn’t lessen the pain and certainly doesn’t assuage the anger. Young men disappear off the streets of an American city and re-appear on videos denouncing the U.S., and the talking heads of American “commentary” are shocked and perplexed and—in the case of a great and fair organization such as Fox News—outraged at the perfidy of such young men, men who had previously received the largesse of America and have now turned to such ungracious vituperation. They don’t seem to understand the growing pressure to DO something. A camper can only sit for so long and wish the mosquitoes would try someone else before she screams in fury and begins killing them. So it is with young men and women who just want to live their lives and get on with their business.
So the harassment of Muslims everywhere continues: in Switzerland (Switzerland!), which has banned any further building of minarets, of which there is a mighty total of four so far; in France, veiled women enrage the French more than good California wine. And we know what happened in Bosnia, Iraq, and now Afghanistan. So there is plenty of fuel for the fire under the Muslim simmering pot. As in the case of that poor youngster painted with the brush which should be used for individual evil, the constant pain needs to be assuaged. Maybe someone labeled a gang banger because the neighborhood he lives in DOES have some and they DO shoot people, will—someday, out of frustration—say, “Ok, if that’s the way it’s always gonna be, maybe I’ll just pick up a gun and be what they want me to be.” And maybe someday, more and more young Muslims will say, “Since I can’t be who I want to be, since I am what the fear-mongers SAY I am, since so many unthinking people have already judged me, I might as well bomb.”
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