Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open Season on Muslims

Whether Summer, Winter, Spring, or Fall, apparently any season is a season to openly crack on Muslims and still be in the mainstream of political thought and discourse in the United States of America. Nearly 10 years since the horrendous attacks of September 11, 2001, the rage and discriminatory feelings towards the ENTIRE Muslim faith, and not just the extremist violent wing, don't seem to have dissipated one iota and may even be on the increase. The climate of intolerance towards all Muslims seems to be socially acceptable in all circles. One would expect these thoughts to be acceptable in right-wing circles but  apparently these thoughts have permeated liberal circles as well as is evident by recent happenings.

Well-known and respected journalist and analyst Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News (how's that for serving 2 distinctly different masters), was recently fired from NPR as a result of comments he made on Fox's popular O'Reilly Factor program. Juan apparently felt very comfortable expressing the uneasy feelings that he has whenever he is in an airport and sees someone dressed in traditional Muslim garb (you know, since all Muslims are apparently terrorists). To put the comments of the lone liberal voice of reason of Fox News in its proper perspective, Williams said the following in a discussion with Fox's Bill O'Reilly.

"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot,” Williams said. “You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
The left-leaning NPR reacted swiftly and fired Williams shortly after the comments circulated throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere. In light of this firing, many have jumped to Williams defense, including Williams himself, by claiming that  this amounts to "censorship" and "political correctness gone wild". Really Juan ? REALLY ? As a black man, you more than any other should fully realize the dangers of associating the actions of a few with the whole. Do the actions of Crips & Bloods gang-banging in South Central Los Angeles in ANY WAY reflect on you as a man and a professional ? OF COURSE NOT !! Juan, I wonder what your reaction would've been if another notable journalist and analyst had said:
"You know Bill, I'm no racist. I have several black friends and even had one at my house last night. But I tell you, when I'm at a red light and see them standing there with their hats on backwards and their baggy jeans on, I get worried. I get nervous"
THAT my friend is the EXACT equivalent of what you just said. I don't doubt that many people feel this way about Muslims and also about black people but that doesn't mean that it is OK to OPENLY and comfortably express these thoughts especially as an influential thought leader in the media spotlight. You expressing those feelings and being defended by people in both liberal and conservative circles, makes others feel quite justified in the similar feelings that they have.

As was quite evident during the passionate debate regarding whether or not an Islamic Community Center should be allowed to be built within a few blocks of Ground Zero, there is a climate of intolerance, hatred, and discrimination towards not only the extremist wing of Islam but towards the large majority of Moderate Muslims that represent a religion of Peace. It is disturbing how widely accepted these discriminatory views are. As a black man, I know VERY WELL what it is like to have the actions of a few cloud the perception of the whole. That is NEVER a good thing and voices of tolerance should speak out against such expressions, feelings, and voices of intolerance WHEREVER they exist.

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