Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Islam in America

Be honest. Does that phrase just sound wrong to you? Does it make you feel that something is eating away at the heart of your country? I'm pretty sure there are some people out there who feel that way.

There is a very worthwhile post by M. LeBlanc at Bitch, Ph.D., who "was raised Mormon by my Catholic father in Cairo, Egypt." She is writing about perceptions of Islam in the United States. I can see where not everyone would agree with everything she has to say. I, however, agree strongly with the excerpts that follow:
On Friday, September 26, someone sprayed a chemical irritant through the window of the nursery at a mosque in Dayton, the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton.

... when people are attacked at their place of worship, for no apparent reason other than to instill fear, that's terrorism. Yes, terrorism can be perpetrated against Muslims, in the United States.

... A Google News Search-culled sample of some of the news outlets that have covered the story: BeliefNet, Huffington Post, Israeli News, Wisconsin,, DemocracyNow, and a handful of local Ohio outlets. Notice anything? Not a single major outlet. Not the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, or even the Trib.

... I'd wager a week's pay with you that if someone sprayed an irritant gas into a church or a synagogue or a goddamn Girl Scouts meeting, where children were hurt, it would be a "story" for at least one day.

She includes a second-hand account that I cannot verify beyond its original appearance in The Daily Kos. Here is the story as it was reported in the Dayton Daily News.

If you google this story now, you'll find a lot of different views. Some people say the story has been overblown, some that it is being played down. Some even say the whole story is a fraud. There's argument over the video "Obsession" which had been distributed free in newspapers throughout Ohio a few days prior to the attack. This video, originally released in 2006, purports to be a wake-up call against Islamic extrmism, but in the extreme fear it generates, that subtlety tends to be lost. It ends up feeling pretty anti Islam to me. Also anti Arab, because you don't see any of the Indonesian Muslims preaching anti-American propaganda, although I know they're out there. Let alone the Pakistani and Afghani Muslims.

Now, who is behind the video? Zionists who claim that just because they're Jewish it doesn't mean their film is biased. The Committee for American Islamic relations is suing the DVD's producers, but CAIR itself has been accused of being a front for terrorists. By (no surprise really) well-known pro-Israeli hawks. How is one person supposed to figure out what is true? As is so often the case with the internet, I am beginning to feel lost in a maze of mirrors, time is slipping away and I see no end in sight.

I once had a friend, a perfectly nice woman, express her fear of "them" (meaning Arabs, or maybe Muslims, but probably nothing as specific as Arab Muslims) as if the attacks of 9/11 made that perfectly understandable, completely OK. Yes, she reasoned, she was scared, so it made sense to pull Arabs out of lines at airports and subject them to extra searches. Maybe we shouldn't let them on airplanes at all. Her ideas didn't actually make me angry, because it was more ignorance than anything else. (Although, if you think about it, it was odd that she said those things to my face, because she had actually met my husband.) She didn't know that "they" are actually part of "us." Who knows, if I didn't have an Arab Muslim husband, maybe I wouldn't understand it, either. Now I wonder -- as time goes on, do more people understand that or less?


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