Let’s Not Do a Historical Repeat…

I’ve been discussing the anti-Muslim sentiments that seem to be floating around this country in some of my recent posts. Incidentally enough, I’m discussing the same incident as a previous professor of mine and fellow blogger, Professor Santi Tafarella. I don’t mean to steal his post topics, so I feel that it’s necessary to give him due credit. You can read his blog here: http://santitafarella.wordpress.com
It’s definitely something worth checking out.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at this incident reported on by CBS news and discussed on several other channels throughout the web. The Murfreesboro Fire Department was alerted by a citizen that drove by a piece of construction equipment that had been set aflame. Investigators have ruled the fire to be arson. Apparently only one of the construction vehicles were actually destroyed while three others received some damage. The actual damage isn’t really what’s important in this particular case, it’s the intent behind the crime. Some Americans are starting to sound dangerously similar to many anti-African American protestors in the 1960s, in several critical ways.

The first and probably most dangerous of these ways is that many Americans seem to be able to rationalize the believe that Islam is either not a peaceful religion, or not a “real” religion at all. People either don’t know or have forgotten how similar Islam and Christianity really are. If you really get into the similarities and differences, the results are pretty surprising. What these rationalizations are doing is allowing these Americans to convince themselves that Muslims are somehow sub-human or less important that the average person, i.e. the average Judeo-Christian.

The second of these ways is that they’re starting to back up their anti-Muslim rhetoric with actions. The planning of the not-so-aptly-named Ground Zero Mosque has not created all this hateful energy; it has brought it to the surface. So many seem convinced that Islam is directly responsible for the deaths that resulted from the September 11th terrorist attacks, and that simply isn’t the case.

The third of these ways is that those who are speaking out against Islam as some force for evil are totally and completely terrified of Islam and its followers because they don’t understand it. The same thing has happened many times throughout history. A lack of understanding, it seems, is all that is needed to inspire fear and hate. The same sequence of events can be seen in the problems encountered by the 1960s civil rights movement, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the Jewish Holocaust. People who are afraid and panicking can be capable of some truly atrocious acts.

The reason I feel it’s important to discuss these issues should be pretty clear. I might get into religion and faith in a future post, but until then, it’s important to know that I don’t support the rights of one belief system over another. I believe that it’s important to support the right to adhere to whatever belief system you see fit, whether that be a Christian system, a Jewish system, an Islamic system, a Buddhist system, or a system of non-belief. Especially in this country, freedom of religion and freedom from religion are extremely important. The lack of a substantial backlash against crimes like the arson in Tennessee is a little frightening to me, personally. I feel a stronger response to such a hate crime would be completely understandable.

It’s not a far leap from misunderstanding to hate, and it’s a leap that needs to be prevented. In a nation so diverse as ours, tolerance is one of the most critical values. We don’t need a repeat of posters like these:

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