Respect Must Be Earned

The political events that have occurred this past summer have cemented my new sense of uncomfortable awareness at being a white American. The world seems to look upon America as a pack of vicious racists because of the people who vocally protested the mosque and got tons of press, or earlier, supported immigration legislation.

Many famous people have made the “Islam is a peaceful religion” speech.  But I would no more have a buddy who quoted the Koran than I would a Christian fundamentalist who pestered me with Scripture. They’re both squicky to me—so why do I have a choice with the Christian but not the Muslim?  It’s not because of the person’s color, it’s because I’m an atheist. Am I the only person who thinks mosques are creepy? This constant praying and strict separation of the sexes is so not free, not normal, not healthy.

Where does our discomfort come from? From the stories and images we are confronted with every single day and our normal responses to them.  If all we see is the oppression, stonings, women being denied basic human rights, fatwas against dogs…then what are we supposed to think?  I feel like we’re in a no-win situation here, like we’ve been set up to be knocked down. We’re fed disgusting graphic images then told we’re racist when we recoil in disgust. We’re supposed to understand them. You can probably win over a whole bunch of Americans by bullying, but I think a lot of folks need more than that—they need some proof that bringing Islam to America is a good thing, not just that we’re scared not to.

Last month a bunch of people in Phoenix defaced a huge American flag with a toilet, mud, etc., on the news, as people stood around and watched (no one was allowed to interfere). Am I a racist if I express my disgust? How about if I’m disgusted but don’t say anything? (which is what most Americans do).  My grandparents were so happy to get here. They had their names changed when they got off the boat without complaint—more than anything else they wanted to be American. We weren’t allowed to say we were Czech-American, that was only for old people who were born there. We were American, period. We flew the American flag and celebrated American holidays. Is that a heritage to be ashamed of? Did my grandparents do something wrong by quietly assimilating into the culture? They understood the word “fascist” better than any of the people hawking it up these days for ridiculous reasons.

I hate the word racist. Maybe people should start calling each other that to diminish its power. Where I live we’ve learned to shut our mouths and carry guns, and if you lived here you would too. Are you a racist if you think politically incorrect things? Is it politically incorrect simply to be white? It feels that way if you’re paying attention. Do I need a 12-step program to cure me?

The word “Republican” has taken on a negative slant like never before. It’s often used as an adjective now, as in “Republican bigots.” People I know who vote Republican aren’t bigots, they’re just concerned people who lack political choices. I feel sorry for them because many of them served in the armed forces and are solid people. Are they really that hateful, or is it just the perverted press surrounding them that’s full of hate?

Every morning the first thing I do is look at my home page bearing news from around the world. How many mornings do we see women and girls treated brutally? How can you keep shoving videos of floggings in our faces and then tell us we’re not being open-minded? We certainly don’t approve of Christians who marry off their 14-year-old daughters to church elders, so why is it OK because it’s Islam? Do you think it’s going to change? I don’t. Where’s the kindness and compassion? I need to see it for myself.

It didn’t just start with the Taliban.  Misogynistic laws in Islam have prevailed for a couple thousand years. I read a book in the ‘80s called Generosity and Jealousy by Charles Lindholm. He was writing his thesis and spent a year with a family in a small house in northern Pakistan. The whole year he was there he never met the wife because she was not allowed to mingle with an unmarried man! The women were ruled by fear. He explained how boys would entertain themselves by luring the wild dogs with bits of bread then throwing rocks at them. I wish I never read this book, it’s burned into my mind with acid. (This book is very hard to find—I just checked online and sellers want $100 to $200 a copy! I got it from a library but I’ll bet there aren’t many copies around anymore.)

Americans are under enormous pressure to accept all cultures and religions no matter how distasteful. If you want Americans to accept cultures that don’t want to blend in but do want special considerations, then show me where it’s working. Show me a country where Islam is making lives better, where women have the same rights as men, and I’ll believe. No religion has the right to demand respect.

I don’t understand how empowering a strict religion here helps. It’s almost as if this Terry Jones debacle has kick-started a new disrespect for Christianity and an embracing of Islam. I’m an atheist and nothing could change my mind, but I see a lot of other atheists online vocally spewing the “if you don’t accept Islam then you’re a racist” rhetoric. Do you think it’s going to be better to have Christianity replaced by Islam? All I’m seeing is more creepy stuff to deal with. I can feel changes coming and they’re going to make America squirm even more.

In France police won’t even go into Muslim neighborhoods because they are so dangerous. Can you seriously state that you know for a fact that won’t happen here, and if so, how do you know? The French are white people but nobody hates them. Is it because they have allowed parts of their beautiful country to be destroyed? Is that what happens next after the hating, the sympathy? Ugh.

Is it fear that drives us to be so “accepting?” If it is, then isn’t all the freedom of religion rhetoric just bullshit?


2 responses to “Respect Must Be Earned

  1. Yep, yep, yep, yep.

    I’ve been out of the blogging world a for a bit lately.
    It is refreshing to see honest, thought provoking blogs when I come back.

    Can’t say it enough…yep, yep, yep, yep.


  2. You may be an atheist but you ‘preach’ it Sister.

    Yo is preachn’ to the choir but I say – Amen, tell it!

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