Racism in America

American racism and bigotry is already tainting many Muslims' views of America

I tend to stay away from commenting on domestic American politics on this site as the issues in America tend to have little actual effect on the country’s policies in the Middle East (what exactly has Obama done differently than Bush?), but I find myself compelled to say at least something that the conflagration of racism and Islamophobia in the States at the moment.  The United States was built on the backs of immigrants and has, throughout history, repeated and built upon the characterization of America as an open and accepting society; a model for other multi-ethnic societies.  Modern America, unfortunately, has wandered away from its original motto of acceptance (itself, perhaps, a dubious claim).

In addition to the Arizona immigration law that allows police to legally profile and harass ‘foreign-looking people,’ the United States has a (hopefully small) group pushing for maddening measures of discrimination against Muslims.  The first example is the proposed Mosque cum cross religion cultural center that is meant to be built near Ground Zero in New York City.  There has been significant opposition to the project, exemplified by the recent decision of the Anti-Defamation League to stand against the buildings construction.

While the plot of land in downtown Manhattan left empty after to terrorist attacks of 9/11 continue to be an emotional issue for Americans, the construction of an Islamic cultural center (near, not on the site) is exactly the type of symbolism that highlights the cultural strength of the United States.  By opposing such a project, detractors (such as Abe Foxman of the ADL) are only displaying a sense of cultural rejectionism and racism.  Fortunately, there have been many – including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a plurality of New Yorkers – who have supported the construction of the cultural center and blasted the racist rants of those seeking to undermine the very strength of American culture.

[tweetmeme] In addition to the Ground Zero construction controversy, there is a church in Florida that is sponsoring a despicable event to commemorate the 2001 attacks.  The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida has been pushing an official “Burn the Quran Day” on the 11th of September “in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam.”  The insensitivity and complete lack of cultural and religious understanding of this event are clear demonstrations of a religious institution that is built upon hate and not the belief in the love and power of God.

Fortunately, again, there are many that are pushing against what is an obvious example of bigotry.  Christian Organizations across America have spoken out against the actions of the Florida church.

While the United States is busy teetering on the edge of racism and Islamophobia, it is sending a grotesque message to the people of the Middle East.  With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a serious feud intensifying with Iran (in which some Americans have unwisely called for war) America cannot be seen as taking a stand against Islam.  Already, seen by many Muslims as biased due to its unrelenting support for Israel as well as to the unconscionable number of Muslim deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere (not to mention Bush’s ‘Crusader’ moments), the United States must renew its faith in multiculturalism.  It must be seen once again as the beacon of cultural freedom, not as a bigoted society based on hatred.

Living in the region for a while now, I have encountered many people – Muslim or otherwise – mention their love for the people and the culture of the United States (with the normal and expected: “but the government…”).  People like those spouting racism, bigotry and hate in New York, Florida, Arizona and elsewhere in the states risk the loss of the American cultural prestige throughout the Middle East and, indeed, throughout the rest of the world.

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3 thoughts on “Racism in America

  1. @ Chris,

    Do you know that the muslims are unique in the sense that they do not have any sense of nation and are taught to be muslims only. Ask any muslim in the US and you will hardly find a muslim who would identify him/her as an American first. The muslims are united on one issue, the rule of the Islamic caliphet all over the world, hence no sense of nationalism. They go to the western world, would not give up their muslim ways, would not learn or contribute anything to the new society they are moving into, and fight for all the democratic tights available in the west only to further their muslim ways and agenda. Take your wife and daughter to Saudi Arabia (the nerve center of the muslims) or any Arab country ( except perhaps only Dubai) and you will see the real face of the muslims, where the non muslims are not allowed any rights to practice their own religion or ways of life.

    Muslims’ views on racism in America or elsewhere do not matter, as long as they do not allow similar rights to the non muslims, that they expect to have in the west.

    Muslims are a real danger to the world, to which Europe is waking up, although late ….. ! It would be a grave mistake to under estimate this threat.

    The Americans need to learn a lot about the muslims before they rally in support for them ….. !

  2. @neel123:

    There’s a lot of misinformation in your comment, unfortunately. The idea that Muslims have to identify as part of a nation “first” is interesting, since it implies that the nation’s values are inconsistent with those of Islam (and, for most Muslims, that’s patently untrue). If you have some time, you should check out Gallup’s polls and analysis on the Muslim world and, more specifically, on Muslim-Americans (who tend to be more moderate than Muslims anywhere in the world). http://www.gallup.com/se/127907/Gallup-Center-Muslim-Studies.aspx

    Also, “the Muslims” are not united on anything, really, except for a few central tenets of the faith. Muslims are a highly dynamic and fairly fragmented group without a clear hierarchical structure and certainly without any single ruler or imam. And considering the Middle East as a whole houses less than a quarter of the world’s Muslim population, I don’t think Saudi Arabia is the best place to look for Islam’s “nerve center.”

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