July 27, 2010

Are Muslims Organized to Resist Bigotry?

There was an interesting comment over at Daily Kos on a diary that discussed the Cordoba House community center and mosque (the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque"). Here is the original comment:

I wish Muslims were organized to resist bigotry
I don't think they realized the importance of political engagement or are simply unprepared to deal with this level of discrimination that came after 9/11. It is time they learned from the civil rights movements and get very active. The fact this bigotry is tolerated demonstrates how much bigotry our media is willing to propagate at the expense of those who don't loudly resist.

And this is my response:

It's not that Muslims aren't organized to resist bigotry or that we don't realize the importance of political engagement. On the contrary, there are several organizations that engage in both of these aspects every day, including CAIR and MAS among others. Could these organizations do a better job than they are now? I'm sure they would say "yes," along with a request for more manpower and money.

But let's be realistic here: the real issue is not the Muslim community's level of organization vis-a-vis bigotry, it's the level of bigotry among non-Muslims. And the real problem there is that these types of attitudes, once set, rarely change. There are a number of Islamophobes here at Kos who one might think would change their opinions and attitudes toward Islam and Muslims after participating in so many discussions on these topics, but I have yet to see any evidence that those attitudes have changed at all. They have had the opportunity to learn about Islam and the Muslim world, they have discussed Islam and the Muslim world with a number of different Muslims here at Kos, but there is no change. They continue to sputter in their rage against Islam.

If the 2008 presidential campaign and the Obama presidency have shown anything, it is that racism never died out. The success of the civil rights movement may have caused racists to lower their profile in the 70s and 80s, but their attitudes never went away. They were the true sleeper cells within American society. Muslims have been doing their part to resist bigotry and to organize politically, but I don't ever expect Islamophobia to ever go away in American society. For that to happen, American would need to revert en masse to Islam. Not that that couldn't happen; it's done so with a number of different cultures before, but I'm not holding my breath until that time.


kinzi said...

Hi Dunner, I am traveling and don't have the minute I need to read at Kos, but will risk an interjection that if their is bigotry in the anti-Cordoba mosque group, it is exceed by the lack of common sense by the Cordoba Foundation.

The Khan's keep putting their feet in their mouths and making it very easy for public opinion to be swayed against them.

I am for Muslims having mosques to worship in. But this mosque, in this place, with this name, for the stated reason...it was pretty stupid of them not to anticipate the back-lash.

The main players in the opposition may be loud, but it seems this plan was hatched in an ideological vacuum without much thought for the everyday New Yorker. Bigotry or stupidity, it's a toss up.

kinzi said...

I came back, and I suppose I didn't see your full post, or quote from Kos' posts.

I find it interesting the writer thinks that a mass 'reversion' would cure bigotry and racism. I find Arab Muslims of the most unapologetically racist people I have ever met (with the exception of a few of my blogger friends).

People seem to think Islamophobia is happening by itself with no causation. Without even delving into news outlets such as Fox, one can read of Muslim on Muslim bombings, honor killings, FGM, various Saudi and Egyptian fatwas. This does tend to make people love Islam.

It makes my job, as a Christian trying to tell others to love their Muslim neighbor, fruitless. I have a post coming about reactions to Christians I have talked to across America about Muslims. Fear it is, phobia it isn't.

Perhaps Kos, calling it bigotry, racism and Islamophobia, is also a primary cause of the resentment.

JDsg said...

Kinzi: I'll get back to your comments in a day or two, insha'allah; there's a fair amount to discuss and I have some other things that need attending to first. In the meantime, you might find this essay, The "Ground Zero Mosque", written by a non-Muslim, to be of interest.

kinzi said...

thx Dunner, I appreciate your insights as always. I'll get back to your link too.