Friday, September 27, 2013

Muslims: not allowed here

The other day James Ferguson, a journalist who has written about Somalia, published an oped in the New York Times titled: "The West Need Not Fear Its Young Muslims." I found his argument so obvious as barely to need stating: despite the mall attack in Kenya, most Somali refugees to the United States -- and most immigrant Muslims, period -- aren't about to start shooting randomly at perceived "enemy" Westerners. (Hey -- we're pretty good at producing home-grown shooters, anyway.)

Then I took a look at the comments to the article and realized that we do have to keep pointing this out. Here's a representative sample of what some of the more articulate of my fellow citizens are saying:

Islam has a problem that it can't seem to address. I'm tired of hearing about all the nice Somalis and other Muslims who want nothing to with extremism. It doesn't matter - this is Islam's problem.

It's not about fear. It's about recognizing a segment of the population which has produced terrorists in the past, is producing them presently and will continue to produce them in the future.
Unfortunately, there are no First World countries with a large influx of Muslims who have benefited from their presence and no amount of positive thinking can make any difference.

Living in California, where over 27 percent of the population is foreign-born and lots of very different people have (mostly) learned we just have to get along, the raw violence of these anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant voices is not what I hear every day. Lucky me.

But far more important and odious than what any of us are saying in comment threads are the many ways in which anti-Muslim bigotry has infiltrated government practices.

Example: Sarah Abdurrahman, who reports for NPR's On The Media, was returning with friends, all Muslim and U.S. citizens, from Canada via Niagara Falls when they were all held for six hours by rude and abusive Border Patrol agents. Such stops of Muslim citizens are not uncommon. The U.S. government asserts the right to abrogate any expectation of legal process any of us us have when we cross the border into the country. Here's Abdurrahman's account:

Example: Even when Muslim immigrants play by the rules and do everything in order, secretive U.S. agencies can block their citizenship applications. Here are some stories; worth watching:

"We cannot be guilty just by default … "

As Sonali Kolhatkar points out

Secret programs like [the one these people apparently fell afoul of] give lie to the right wing rhetoric that undocumented immigrants simply need to get in line to legally obtain their papers just like everyone else. The problem is that, depending on where you come from, what your name sounds like, or what religion you are, the immigration system is set up to thwart you. And worst of all, you may not even realize it.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

People always want boxes and that can mean to put someone in a bad box or a good one. It's harder to judge by actions. I live in a very diverse area with a nearby university that draws in from many cultures and then out here where there is a lot of agricultural work. I think it makes it easier to judge by actions if you know a lot of diverse people.

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