Print Posted on 05/02/2017 in Abuse

Islamaphobia: The Lie We Tell Ouselves

Islamaphobia: The Lie We Tell Ouselves

There is a lot of attention on “Islamophobia” lately and rightly so but I am continually annoyed by the term Muslim American. Why? Because we are one people of many cultures and religions, the first identifier should be American and although there are a few syllables more it should (in my opinion) follow “who are Muslim (or White or African or Asian, or etc., etc.). Try it out for a couple of days and see what you notice, leading with the shared identifier first. The same is true I find with the term “Disabled Veteran” as opposed to “an American veteran who suffered a disability while in service to their Nation”. 

Introductions frame how we see one another. If I say, “Margaret is an alcoholic,” it evokes a very different visceral feeling than if I say “Margaret suffers from alcoholism.” When I was working with adults who didn’t have homes and were mentally ill I refused to say that I worked with ‘the homeless’ because it removed them one step from belonging with those of us who have homes and permitted the marginalization of people without homes and for the system to criminalize their poverty. There was a time in American history when people had compassion when they saw a fellow American without a home but through labels and through criminalizing their misfortune we absolve ourselves of a sense of empathy and accountability, or we assuage our conscience on high holidays by going to ‘serve’ meals at a ‘homeless shelter’. 

The goal in providing people an opportunity to be of service wasn’t to provide people a way to do penance but a way to try to get them on an ongoing basis, involvement sponsored by identification and empathy in the hope that they would commit to provide support in money or clothing, or other forms of ongoing service.

But getting back to Islamophobia…some may say ‘but I’m not frightened of Muslims’ and that may be true because they know nothing of the people who practice that faith, but in general what the homophobic, semitephobic, heterophobic, genderphobic all share in common is fearing what they don’t know or understand, and what 'they' have been trained to do is feel they do ‘not to need to’ understand.

The tragic nemesis of freedom is not ignorance but those who make calculated decisions to manipulate those less trained to scrutinize what ‘leaders’ (people with political power, including non-politicians) say, disarming people through disseminating misinformation and obscuring the truth. 

Hitler, Sen. Joe McCarthy, and more recently ‘another’ share in common capitalizing on fear and terrorizing people (in our case Americans) into believing there is a clear, present and imminent danger from within the ranks of our own citizenry, our fellow citizens. 

Fact: more people are killed annually by gunshot injuries than any cumulative acts of terrorism occurring within the United States to date (including separatists, home grown terrorists like Timothy McVey). In 2013 alone over 33,500 people living in the United States died from gunshot injuries (10.6 per 100K). Of those 11,208 were homicides, 21,175 were suicide and 505 by accident and 281 for ‘undetermined’ causes. 

In comparison the number of our Armed Forces men and women killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan in service to our Nation to date has been approximately 6,828 American lives. In effect we kill ourselves more at home than enemy combatants kill our brothers and sisters in combat.

So where is the rational or justification for engendering such vitriol and mistrust towards Americans who are Muslim, or Muslims in general? But we already know that phobias aren’t ‘rational’ and I charge that it is categorically immoral and unjust (if not ‘criminal’) that there are those who consciously and deliberately sponsor and exploit Islamophobia for their own gain. 

The evidence, the truth is that 'we' are a greater threat to ourselves than Islam has ever been.

(The statistics are readily available on numerous genuine news sources including the Center for Disease Control., and Gun Violence in The United States of America, U.S. News-News Vine)