The Thin Line

Currently, there are few subjects in the West that are more controversial than Islam. As a former convert-especially an American one-this puts me in a precarious position. I certainly want to share my experiences and my opinion. However, I do not want my story to be exploited by xenophobic and hateful charlatans.

While I’m obviously quite critical of Islam(and all the Abrahamic religions at this point), I take issue with those who would paint all Muslims with a wide brush. Also if one’s goal is to support the truly moderate Muslims or those who seek to apostatize, demonizing the faith is not going to help these people. If anything many will shut down all dialogue if they are attacked. Condemning all Muslims and treating them with hostility is actually counterproductive.

In the USA a cottage industry has developed since 9/11. Anyone who is willing to slam Islam and all of its adherents as evil has a receptive audience. There are a number of different camps under the anti-Islam umbrella:

  • Those who fear the erosion of liberal democracy
  • Those who fear the cultural impact of Islam in America
  • Those who fear Islam will challenge Christianity’s(God-given) stranglehold on American life

It is the people in category number three that trouble me the most and that I seek to stay away from. In my experience and study, such individuals tend to follow a more fundamentalist, right-wing, intolerant and xenophobic form of Christianity. Ironically, they exhibit the same troubling mentality that they bash Muslims for: they dislike all who do not share their beliefs and seek to impose their beliefs on others.

For me, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. I refuse to seek common ground with such people or support their agenda. I unequivocally reject them, for I see their true colors. As an urban Black American woman who is the great-great grandchild of slave, I know unadulterated hate when I see it. And what is floating to the surface in the USA-the cries to “nuke the MOOZ-lums”, the delusional  whispers that “President Obama is a secret Muslim out to get us”, the gleeful disparagement of Muslims-is hate. There is a thin line between rationally criticizing Islam and jumping on the bandwagon with the xenophobes and racists.  Under no circumstances will I cross it.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

5 thoughts on “The Thin Line

  1. I don’t care about any of those 3 categories. All I ask is that Muslims (or anyone else) not blow up stuff / kill people. I don’t think I should need to pander to someone to get them to do that. Why should I have to be “nice” to a moderate muslim to get them to help curb this in their radicals? They should be helping to curb this regardless for their own good. I guess I am not getting this post or I feel it is missing something

    1. It’s not about pandering to Muslims, moderate or otherwise. What I am saying is that the wholesale demonization of Muslims and calls for genocide against them,as some of the more vocal critics of Islam suggest, is ineffective.

  2. I’ve heard it said that they should be left alone to kill each other. I’ve never heard it said that they should all be killed though. I guess I haven’t encountered those types yet.

  3. I agree 100% dimunitive. It is counterproductive (and wrong) to demonize all Muslims and/or take up with those you described. Let me state here that I like to remind everyone as often as possible that there is no “true islam”. There are many different version of Islam and many different types of Muslims. I believe that over time Muslims in the US will continue to change their religion fit their lives here (i.e., drop the head scarf, no beard for men, etc). While I am not a member of any religion (much less Islam) I am under no illusions that religion will go away any time soon. With that in mind, I prefer a gelded Islam to a militant one.

    On the other hand, I DO fear that we are getting to a time where any criticism of Islam (as a religion) is somehow being equated with “racism” and hence taboo.

  4. The tendency to equate criticism of Islam to racism bothers me for a number of reasons. It stifles rational and sober discussion of Islam. It is also detrimental in the fight to combat legitimate racism. The uber-sensitivity regarding Islam has led many to attack multiculturalism and political correctness altogether. As a member of an ethnic minority I feel that attempts to eradicate multiculturalism are premature.

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