Religious bigotry, specifically anti-Islam religious bigotry, has been on the rise since the terrorist attacks of 2011. The recent election of the first two Muslim women to the House of Representatives has further kindled American prejudice toward the religion of Islam and its adherents.
From the outset it is important to say that the small group of well-organized, well-heeled terrorists responsible for the attacks on our country is not representative of the Islamic tradition. As I have said before, these extremists no more represent Islam than the Ku Klux Clan represents Christianity. It is just that simple. Read the Koran and get back to me. If you think the Koran is only about violence, read the Old Testament and get back to me. The Bible is no more or less violent than the Koran. There are religious extremists in every tradition and they do not speak the truth and essence of that tradition. Get educated. Until then, don’t contribute to the bigotry and misunderstanding. Don’t fan the flames of intolerance and ignorance.
Ilhan Omar (Representative from Minnesota’s fifth district) is facing ongoing criticism for her comments about Israel. It is all but impossible for anyone to say anything even remotely critical about Israel without all kinds of people climbing down their throats. Her comments were not anti-Semitic, they were critical. Anti-Semitism is the hatred of Jews. There is a vast difference between being critical and being anti-Semitic.
In the state of West Virginia a poster appeared in the state house depicting Ilhan Omar superimposed on a picture of the burning Twin Towers. The caption read, “We have forgotten.” Most Republicans and many Democrats have remained silent. It is reprehensible. Religious bigotry is alive and well in West Virginia.
Yes, we have forgotten. We have forgotten:
- Freedom of religion is a constitutionally guaranteed right.
- Ilhan Omar was legitimately elected as a representative from the state of Minnesota.
- Bigotry is a pernicious and divisive reality wherever it raises its ugly head.
- Our representatives must be held to a higher standard and not fall prey to the lowest fears and prejudices of a minority.
- It is the responsibility of each and every resident of this country and the leaders who represent them to stand against the rising tide of intolerance or blind loyalty.
- The religious right is neither religious nor right. They do not follow the tenets of Christianity and there is nothing right about their positions of hatred and bigotry.
It is troubling to see the social media posts that depict these Muslim representatives as some sort of predictor of the failure of our Republic. Truth be told, we are in far more danger from the occupant and his anti-America rhetoric wrapped up in the flag with a side of apple pie.
We are in far more danger from the fear mongering in which some of our government representatives traffic. It undermines the very fabric of our culture.
The risk of creating constant win/lose propositions weakens our ability to deal with the complicated nature of our social, political and religious reality. We are desperately in need of peacemakers and bridge builders who can reach across divergent perspectives and create common ground.
The deep divisions of our nation create a social and political brittleness that will not withstand the ridiculous foreign policy of the occupant. Nor will it withstand his corrupt business dealings which line the pockets of his associates. There are many things that are legal, but are not moral or ethical.
By fanning the flames of intolerance in any arena, not just religious, this nation builds a platform on rotted timber. It is hard to say what it will look like when our nation collapses under the weight of its own institutional evil, but it will not be pretty. What is guaranteed is that the poor, those most in need and those in minority religious traditions will pay the greatest price. What is a surety is that fear and hatred will lead the way as this country tries desperately to remain “white” to the exclusion of all others.
We are a fast declining society. Threats against our increasingly diverse Representatives in Congress are at the top of a very slippery slope.