Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Befriending Bigots

I just read of a story of five guys in England who robbed a convenience store and killed the owner by bludgeoning him with a hammer.  And while the specific implement of death is a bit unusual, this sort of story is all too common.  And now these five guys have been caught and are likely to get the most severe punishment, and so it's a sad story all around.  A familyman shopkeeper suffered a bad death, and five youths who might have done something with their lives have now thrown it all away.

And the story would end there, except one thing...the five guys were Muslim.  And somehow, that changes everything.  And I read about this from a Facebook "friend" who I've slowly been learning is an anti-Muslim bigot who specializes in reposting stories about Muslim evil-doers causing atrocities to non-Muslims.  And that means that any offensive event becomes more fuel on the fire because Muslims are involved.  No longer are these unrelated stories of evil-doing and sadness.  Now, they're all part of the Muslim experience.

(Similarly, a story involving a drunk driver killing a nun would normally be an anti-drunk driving story, but became an anti-immigrant story because an illegal immigrant was involved.)

A Steady Anti-Infidel Diet

Here's the post from my Facebook "friend" that accompanied the link to that story:
According to sharia law in some places, it is likely that these murderers would never be arrested - were these children fed a steady diet of anti-infidel hate speech in their local mosque? How long before this type of crime is no longer prosecuted in the U.K.?
And really??  There is some chance that the UK might make it legal for people to rob and murder if the killers are Muslim?  I mean, I guess I'm not totally current with modern legal theory in England, but I'm really having a hard time believing that such a law has any possibility of getting passed.

And I should mention, the person writing this post doesn't even know if these dudes are Muslim.  They have Muslim names, and from there, it's considered fair to not only assume they're Muslim, but to assume they're hardcore Muslims who only did this because their victim was an infidel.  There are also hints that politically correctness is to blame for the newspaper not highlighting their Muslimness.

But as she said in a later comment, "the article didn't say anything about their mosque, which is why I framed my remark as a question."  And yeah, that changes everything.  Because it was just a question.

No Stereotype Here

When someone wrote that we shouldn't stereotype about these guys just because they had Muslim names, my "friend" responded:
Yes, of course, other than identifying them as Muslim, there is no "stereotype" here - being aware of what ideology might be driving a group of youngsters is not "stereotyping," especially when one knows a great deal about that ideology and its history. Not bringing it up would be egregious - and what would be another reason they could be so heartless? Are they just natural-born killers? So, labeling them as such is fine, so long as we don't blame the ideology that might have driven them!
And yeah, it's not stereotyping Muslims to assume that these guys were trained to kill infidels by their religion, if you know that Muslims are just like that.  It'd be "egregious" to not assume that their religion taught them to be heartless and cruel.  They might have been driven by their ideology, so it's best to assume that that's the case and add it to the pile of Muslim atrocity stories that all normal people collect.

But of course, that's the definition of stereotyping.  I mean, if there was evidence that these guys were hardcore Muslims who were taught that it was ok to kill infidels, that'd be one thing.  But this person is basing her assumptions purely on their names.  She doesn't even know if they're practicing Muslims.  Yet, we should assume they are, because Muslim "ideology and history" shows that to be the likely case. 

And what is the basis of her "great deal" of knowledge" of Muslim's ideology and history?  What else: Fellow bigots who highlight these stories with the emphasis on how Muslims always do violent, horrible things; creating a vast fever swamp of Muslim bashing stories.  Somehow, they fail to grasp how easy it would be to find all the murderers, rapists, and thieves in our prisons who were raised as Christians and pin this on Christianity. 

If the only stories you notice of a certain religion or race are the negative ones, then it's easy to imagine that everyone in those groups are bad people.  But it's not about whether you can find some bad people in a group, but whether those people represent the group as a whole.  And if you focus solely on the negative and insist that these attitudes reflect the group as a whole, while ignoring all the good people in that group, then you're a bigot.  There's simply no other way about it.

Post Script: I confronted this bigot by telling her that she's a bigot and explaining what makes her a bigot (something I've almost never done) and was immediately unfriended.  No argument.  No explanation.  It was over.  And thank god.  While I really did have some slight hope that I might be able to get through to her and convince her to stop hating Muslims, I truly was sickened by her ignorance and hatred, which only grew the more I read her material.

This all happened awhile ago and I never finished this post or another that I wrote about her (which I might post soon), because the topic was so upsetting for me.  I should also add that I have no idea how I became "friends" with her, and had no encounters with her outside of seeing her disgusting bigotry appear on my screen. 

While there are very few "friends" on Facebook that I actually consider to be friends, this person clearly belonged in the "cockroach" category.  I had forgotten all about this until I started looking through my unfinished posts for something to post, and am now quite happy to have gotten rid of this person from my life.  While I generally believe in giving everyone a chance, in hopes of building a bridge between us; there are always exceptions.

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