Friday, September 28, 2012

Anti-Muslim Bigotry is Still Bigotry

Here in America, when rightwing nutjobs form a militia, we blame their ideology and say "What a bunch of rightwing nutjobs." And when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building, we didn't say "Ooh, us white people are so dangerous." We said "Man, those rightwing nutjobs are dangerous." And when Tea Partiers talk about having to commit violence against the country and having a civil war because Obama made them buy good health insurance, we think "Wow those conservative nutjobs are crazy."

And we also have liberals who, while not violent as the aforementioned nutjobs are, also do extreme things that the rest of us don't approve of.  And so you had OWS Movement people breaking laws, trespassing, and doing other illegal activities that are denounced by the majority of people in the movement.  And you'll have liberals who don't even approve of what the OWS Movement as a whole is doing.  And you'll have Democrats who don't even approve of the liberals.

And people on the other side are always quick to condemn the entire movement based upon what the most extreme elements are doing.  Conservatives who will blast Obama because someone was assaulted at an OWS camp, for instance.  And the point is to lump all your enemies into as wide a group as possible, in order to make the entire group look bad.  But we, of course, push back against that and show all the variety of opinion on our side; just as conservatives do whenever one of their nutjobs goes crazy.

And while we lay some blame on the more fevered elements in their movement stirring the pot, like the Limbaughs and Glenn Beck and whatnot, we still separate them from the more moderate elements in their party. Like George Will, and other more reasonable conservatives. And we differentiate the rest of the country into identifiable groups, like moderates, and centrists, and liberals, and progressives.  And there are blue collar voters, rural voters, soccer moms, liberal elites, etc. And we all have our smaller subsets within these groups, and make a point of distinguishing very fine lines between them; acknowledging that there is a wide variety of people in this country.

But...when it comes to violent Muslims, many of us just say "Muslims".  As if there's just *ONE GROUP* of them, and they all believe the same thing. There aren't conservative Muslims or moderates or liberals. And there aren't Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, and all their variant subsets. There are just "Muslims" and their religion is to blame for anything bad that any Muslim does. And when a few thousand Muslims riot, we find it perfectly ok to just say "Muslims" are rioting and to attribute the violence to Islam, even if it's only 0.006% of them who did anything wrong. That's the definition of bigotry.

And while it naturally bothers me when people on the right do this, I've been debating with too many people on the left regarding this exact point.  People who loudly denounce racist cartoons of all stripes, who think it's their duty as citizens to promote offensive cartoons about Islam; under the idea that they're "just cartoons" and the Muslims shouldn't be so sensitive.  People who would surely denounce racist attacks on "welfare queens" or anyone who suggested that all black people are violent because its endemic to their culture, yet think it's ok to say that same thing about Muslims.  After all, some Muslims claim that their religion commands them to kill the Infidel, so who are we to argue with their religion?

And I'm sorry, there's no excuse for bigotry.  None.  I don't care if there are violent Muslims in this world, that doesn't give anyone the right to denounce Muslims as a whole.  Because yeah, there are violent Muslims, just as there are violent white people and black people and Hispanic people and Asian people; but that's still no justification to smear all the rest of the people in those groups.  And if it bothers you to be called a bigot, maybe you shouldn't be one.

If you want to denounce extremism, please do so.  But don't blame it on Islam.  Blame it on the extremists.

No comments: