Friday, August 22, 2014

Stop hating all Muslims

The aftermaths of the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the beheading of James Foley in Syria offer a stark contrast in the understanding of bigotry in America.

The riots in Ferguson and accompanying water cooler talk across America came about from a divide pitting black against white that was disingenuous, even artificial,  and not as deeply rooted as the news would have you believe. It was manufactured by race baiters (Al Sharpton and friends) and the talking heads on those same alleged news outlets (like CNN).   

At that very same time, a real, more deeply-ingrained hatred manifested itself as it has numerous times since 9/11. The Foley beheading reminded too many Americans that they hate Islam and despise Muslims. This didn’t need the media to prime the pump; it just spewed out.

Think about random conversations you overhead or were party to following the beheading. How many followed a “those damn Muslims” path? Take a glance at your feeds on Facebook and Twitter. How many articles and memes have you seen identifying Islam as a religion of hate?

Too many people, I would even say a majority of Americans, are painting the entire religion with a wide brush-stroke that makes all Muslims evil. Rather than attributing the work of ISIS and other militant groups --- which are incredibly small in numbers but large in impact – to a very small minority of morally-bankrupt practitioners of Islam, it’s popular to blame them all.

While most terrorists may be Muslims, most Muslims are not terrorists. Most Muslims are like most Christians – inherently good people, believing in a mostly-peaceful religion, who try to live to standards of morality but have their own personal flaws. In short, they are humans as you and I are -- not animals – trying to be perfect in an imperfect world.

Two Orleans County business owners whom I admire are devout Muslims. Their love of Man far rivals that which I have seen from most Christians. They devote countless time and dollars to improving the lot of life for the impoverished in that deeply-poor county as well as directly helping children from oppressed nations throughout the world. Their sacrifices and commitments are something special, no matter the religion.

Their peers in faith are equally-adept at practicing charity, which is both obligatory and voluntary in Islam. A 2012 study in the United Kingdom found that Muslims were the most giving of all religious groups, contributing 38% more than Jews, 84% more than Protestants, more than twice what Catholics do, and more than 3 times what atheists give.

That is but one aspect that attributes to Islam being a religion of peace.

Many non-Muslims choose to believe otherwise, implying that terror organizations represent the mainstream of the religion and that it is a deadly, vindictive religion. While having never picked up the Quaran, they are quick to tout random quotes from Muhammad that say Islam must convert all non-believers and tax and/or kill those who don’t convert.

If other religions practiced such selectivity and total lack of historical context, Christians would be looked as murderous war mongers, too. After all, the God of the Old Testament had the Israelites wipe out and destroy Jericho, Heshbon, Bahsan and numerous other places, indiscriminately killing women and children in the process because non-believers and those associated with them needed punishment. That’s a heavy body count, one that is overlooked due to the more just people and kinder God of the New Testament.

It’s silly to classify Christiandom as evil and violent because of that, just as it is to do the same to all of Islam.  Christians need to look in the mirror – and read their own doctrines – before pointing an accusatory finger at other religions. What did Jesus say about the first stone?

Islamaphobia is an ugly disease and one that unlike disdain for skin color or sexual orientation is left unchecked. It’s allowed to be expressed in the open and almost no one stands up against it. Even the innocent Muslims targeted by the hurtful chatter and piercing eyes turn their cheeks and take it.  

Hate. Is that any way to treat your fellow man, no matter what religion he practices?  

From the 25 August 2014 Lockport Union Sun and Journal

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