Sunday, August 08, 2010

Marginalizing Hate

The New York Times has an article up examining the many instances of anti-mosque, anti-Muslim hate demonstrations across the country that we've spent quite a bit of time discussing over the last several weeks on this very site.  Naturally they mention the NY Islamic center, the controversy in Tennessee, and they even name-check our old friend Diane Serafin from last week's Temecula, CA mosque protest.  Here's a cut from Diane's latest album:
“I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.”
I wonder what it must be like for Diane  Living her life in omnipresent dread over the encroachment of some ill-defined "other" that's lurking out there just around the corner.  Around every corner.  If it wasn't Muslims, it would be someone else -- anyone else -- to project her fear and hate onto.  How sad to have lived long enough to become a grandparent and yet be utterly crippled by biases and hatred -- and even worse, be completely oblivious to the damage they've done you.  I feel bad for Diane.  We all should.

More to the point, and it's one that's perhaps not being emphasized to nearly the degree that it should, the Dianes of this world represent a minority of a minority.  A vocal minority, sure, but like the old adage about giving someone enough rope, these folks have done a pretty good job of marginalizing themselves without much help.  Their "sky is falling" proclamations about a Red Dawn-style Muslim takeover of America are so clearly off the wall that they've been dismissed and disproven several times over.  From the article:
A two-year study by a group of academics on American Muslims and terrorism concluded that contemporary mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism. The study was conducted by professors with Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina. It disclosed that many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.
None of that will matter to the people who've already made up their minds, but the most heartening thing about the Times piece is the many instances of interfaith communities galvanizing (in far greater numbers, by the way) to support the Muslims in their communities.  Sure, the crazies are out there, but they've always been out there and they'll always be out there.  For the media, the public at large, or (most importantly) our politicians to view them as some bellwether of popular sentiment is to fundamentally misread -- to their detriment -- not only current affairs, but also the lessons of history.


Haseeb said...

That award was well deserved Zaki. I've been coming to your little corner of the world for sanity. I have a horrible habit of reading comments after articles and the vitriolic comments there are stunning...and terrifying.

Zaki said...

Many thanks for the kind words! Glad I'm able to provide some relief from all the noise out there! One thing I've learned long ago is never to delve into the toxic waste dump that is the "comments" section after a news article...