Politicalmonkey2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Creating Terrorists – Copyright USA Islamaphobia Immigration-phobia and Assorted Phobia

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 30, 2010

Does this look like a time bomb to you?

This is a post that is very difficult for me to write, it pushes me outside my comfort level, because some of the ideas that I am going to have to present I find very distasteful, and do not agree with, but in order to make the case as it were, I am obligated to present an argument that makes me feel ashamed of what I am hoping is a small minority of Americans, but what I fear may be becoming main stream.  While this post may seem to ramble a bit, bear with me and I hope in the end you will see it all tied together..Having said all of that…

A few days ago, five young American Muslims were convicted of plotting terrorist attacks and sentenced to 10 years in jail Thursday in a case that highlights concerns about Westerners traveling to Pakistan to link up with al-Qaida and other extremist groups, this started me thinking, what happens, what is the trigger that would make an American citizen align with a terrorist group?

I have been having an on going  conversation with somebody who I respect a great deal, I’ll recap it from the time that all hell was breaking loose because people wanted to build a mosque near ground zero in NYC.   I saw no problem with somebody erecting a mosque there, after all it was not just Christian Americans who lost their lives, and we are a country that believes in freedom of religion, it is a cornerstone of our country.  He informed me that I was painfully unaware of a significant movement in the US that is very anti- Muslim.  Of course I had to step right into it and ask exactly what does that mean?  He went on to explain, one of the fastest growing religions in the world is Islam.  In the UK for example, Muslims were fast outnumbering Christians.  He gave me some statistics, and of course me being me I had to do my own research.  What I found was http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1570456/UK-population-could-soar-to-90m.html , I then found this article http://rickbutts.com/is-england-becoming-a-muslim-nation, of course this just started the “Easter egg hunt”, I found several opinion oriented articles which put forth this idea that in essence because the developed world has fewer children per couple, and Muslims tend to have far more, and that at some point,  in the UK and eventually the world Muslims will no longer be a minority, but rather a majority.  This mentality, this fear of not being the powerful majority also plays into the current immigration issue, be it from Mexico or Pakistan and any place in between.

I remember as a child, my mother would often remind me that I was not to judge somebody else until I had walked a mile in their shoes, regardless of the visuals that presents in a child’s mind, some how I innately understood that we all have different defining moments who make us who we are.   As an American living outside the US,  there are a few observations I would like to make.  First off, is communication, language.  I am always amazed at the number of people who speak English, and grateful, as my Arabic is nothing to be proud of.  Of course it is English spoken with an accent, that accents reminds me, that they know at least one more language than I do.   It is so common here, and in other parts of the world for children to immediately begin learning a second, third and even more languages at the beginning of their schooling, unlike the US, where to be quite frank sometimes I wonder if people are even speaking English.    So when I hear the rhetoric “You are in America speak English!”  it makes me shudder at the arrogance.  I recall being in Greece and overheard an American tourist, actually everybody heard her quite plainly as she was very loud.  She was upset that the staff did not speak adequate English.  I thought to myself, lady you should have stayed home, you are in Greece what language do you think is their first language?  One thing I have noticed on my travels is that if you make an effort, you are met with kindness and people will bend over backwards to help you.  It is surprising at the number of signs throughout the world that are posted in the native language of the country and in English.  Yet, in the US there is a group of people who are greatly offended if they see a sign in Spanish.

I also remember as a child, learning this concept of “tribe”, we all have attachments to our tribe, be it family, religion, ethnic class, the list goes on of all the tribes to which we identify.  It is that tribal pride that causes the swell in the throat when you hear your national anthem, when you watch your flag go by.  You defend your tribe. I was in fifth grade, and there was a girl who absolutely terrorized me on a daily basis.  When I got off the bus my one block walk home was filled with taunts and pushes.  Finally, one day I broke down and started crying, by the time I got home I was fairly pathetic.  My brother asked me what was wrong, and I explained the problem.  The next day, he left his school early, and he waited in the bushes.  Right on schedule I got off the bus and the taunting started, and much to my relief my brother popped out of the bushes, and explained in no uncertain terms that she was to leave me alone.  At that moment, I knew I learned the concept that there is safety in a tribe.

I also learned fairly young that one of the worst “punishments” in life was being ostracized.  To be shunned, is simply another form of bullying, and it is virtually invisible – you cannot show your physical bruises from somebody ignoring you.  Watch any group of children in a school yard, do you see him or her?  It is the child standing alone,  looking at the groups of children playing together.  Do you see the girl’s giggling and walking away from the timid young girl who approaches?  Do you see the boys taking their football game to a different spot in the school yard when the boy with the hand me down clothes comes over?    Obviously it is not limited to children. Ask a Jehovah’s Witness what happens when they leave the congregation, ask about dis-fellowship.   Catholics have their own brand of dis-fellowship, while rarely used, it is there, ex-communication.

What does all of this have to do with my title?  What if you were an immigrant, legal or otherwise, or  you are born and bred in the USA, but some where in your family history not too far back is is a culture that is not Christian?  Your parents “talk funny”,  your mom dresses differently, dinner at your house is not McDonald’s.   You are a foreigner in a new land.  You are the man working the night shift in the gas station, you are the woman working in the kitchen of the country club, you are the quiet student who speaks with a funny accent, you are the family that moves from town to town following the harvest.  You are the guy who never quite fits in, and later went on to live as a hermit, you became famous as the Unabomber.  You are the young man who excels at math, and the pretty blond girl who is in your study group has invited to her home to study.  Her parents are polite, but aloof, you feel their eyes on you.  You are the smart, pretty girl who happens to wear a  scarf to cover your hair, you are the girl who will never be asked to a Home Coming Dance. You are the man or woman in the office who always works on Christmas and Easter, as you do not celebrate them, you are also the person that never gets invited out after work for “drinks”.  You know you do not belong.

Whether we intentionally do it or not, we are very good at ostracizing, at shunning, at ignoring those who are different than us.  We are afraid of that which we do not understand.  We are afraid to admit our ignorance, we are afraid to engage in dialogue.  It makes us uncomfortable.  Some where along the line we have this idea that if you aren’t like me, you are a threat.

9/11 was a defining moment for the world, for the US in particular.  We were attacked, no doubt about it.  We were not attacked by Islam.  We were attacked by extremists who also have managed to distort and twist what Islam is or is not.  We were afraid, and that fear, fear based in ignorance  in Mesa Arizona, four days after 9/11,  manifested its ugliness when Balbir Singh Sodhi,  a turbaned, bearded Sikh was gunned down  because he was mistaken for an Arab.

I was lucky, I was raised in a household where I was encouraged to ask why.  I was encouraged to bring home that school mate who nobody else seemed to care about.  More than encouraged, I was duty bound.  Of all the things my mother taught me with regards to religion, the one that I have always carried with me, isn’t a “Catholic” ritual, but a passage from the bible…Matthew 25:35

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

This family philosophy resulted in our holiday table being filled with people from all walks and cultures of life.  It left me with an appreciation of what each culture contributes to the betterment of the world, and that we are not all that different.  Strip away the trappings and look at the soul, look into the eyes of the person who believes differently than you do, who looks differently than you do, engage with them, I promise you will come away a better person.

The anti-immigration movement, the Islamaphobic propaganda, and all the other phobias we coddle and nurse because of fear and ignorance will certainly destroy our country.  We were a country built on immigrants.  Do we forget what those words on the Statue of Liberty?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I venture to say with the exception of the Native Americans we are all immigrants, alot of us came from roots where English was not spoken, perhaps where Christianity was not the religion that was practiced.  This fear of keeping things “pure”, keeping the tribe in tact is not limited to white Anglo Saxons.  We have the scar of the KKK in this country, which is still alive and well.  The Jewish community is suffering from inter-faith marriages, the menorah is side by side with the Christmas tree.  Catholics are marrying Protestants, blacks are marrying whites…and any other combination you care to throw out there is happening right now… look on the internet the sites aimed at single people:  Find Jewish Singles, Find Moslem Singles, Find Black Single, Find Catholic Singles, Find your ethnic group, find your “tribe” ..all in an effort to keep it pure, however subtle it may be, there is obviously a fear out there that the “tribes” are being lost to assimilation.   They fear assimilation, the very thing that made the USA so successful is the very thing that is under attack.  The attack is wrapped up in package that says we are your moral compass, we are the Conservatives of America, loudly proclaiming that they are God fearing patriotic Christians, which must mean therefore the rest of us are not.  They are not my moral compass.  They are as dangerous as any other terrorist group on the planet, and their intolerance is breeding terrorism.
Sooner or later we all have to learn, accept that the ultimate “tribe” is humanity, and we all belong to it.

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