Thursday, September 09, 2010

Denouncing Burning the Quran Day: Why Bigotry Is a Poor Way to 'Defend' the West

I was hoping I had addressed everything that was needed to be said in regards to discrimination towards Muslims, but apparently, some decided protesting the Muslim community centre was not enough. Pastor Terry Jones, along with his congregation at the Dove World Outreach Center, is under the idiotic belief that the best way to honour the victim's of 9/11 is to burn the Quran on the infamous anniversary date. Even though the congregation is nothing more than about 50 fools, their event has gained national exposure and sadly, there is actually some support on the internet (and beyond) for the vile act.

Before Pastor Jones and his church gained massive media attention by declaring International Burn a Quran Day, they already had a reputation for spreading their version of the gospel through acts of hatred and discrimination. They had previously declared 'No Homo Mayor Protest' day against Gainesville's openly gay mayor, Craig Lowe. These actions clearly make this organization more of a hate group than any kind of a church, and seem to be following the lead of the other radical hate ministry known as Westboro Baptist Church. Both groups hide behind the title of Christian ministries while actually spewing forth nothing but venom and bigotry. I am positive that no clear minded Christian would support these atrocious acts or organizations, just as no loving Muslim supported the terrorist attacks. Initially, you may think this is nothing more than about 50 lunatics indulging in the ultimate act of discrimination and ignorance. Unfortunately, the disturbing thing is there are groups on the internet sprouting up in support of this sickening act, and promise they will participate in order to 'commemorate' and 'honour' the victims of 9/11.

I want to make it clear, I am a huge supporter of freedom of speech. Even if I think one's beliefs are idiotic, I recognize their right to hold them. Though at the same time, they have to recognize my right to criticize it, especially when it is filled with bigotry and idiocy. At first glance, all that is being perpetuated is a book being burned, which in theory isn't a big deal. It would just be like if a Bible was burned. Oh wait, did I just get a few people upset with that statement? Did you start screaming out that the Bible is more than a book or that it is holy or that it deserves respect? Well, guess what, Muslims view the Quran the same way, and obviously will take offence to the burning of their holy tome. I am not just talking about Al Quaeda or Bin Laden or Iran or the crazy extremists, but I am also talking about the Muslims who are citizens of the United States or Canada or many other places where rights are honoured. The burning of the Quran is not a direct attack against terrorists, but rather a huge insult to all peaceful and loving Muslims. This is one of the most disgusting examples of targeting a group as the 'other' or the enemy.

All one has to do is Google 'Burning the Quran' to see how explosive this topic is. I'll admit there is a lot of detractors (including the US government) and I am glad to hear it, but it is sad how many people are supporting it. What is more disgusting is the language that is being used. I've read things like, "Why stop at the Quran, let's burn a Mosque," or "We need to take back America," or "If they can't speak our language or honour our Christian heritage than they can get out of here," or "Blah Blah Blah hate filled, vomit inducing words blah blah blah." These comments are not only anchored in ignorance but they are absolutely frightening.

As I stated in my past post regarding these issues, the Muslims in the United States (and Canada) are citizens of the country. Many of them have been born in the country, and as long as people aren't being batshit insane to them, they love their country. I have Muslim friends and they proudly declare themselves Canadian. The hard fact is, they are just as Canadian as me. Just like how the Muslims in New York or Florida or wherever in the States, are just as American as the rest. It isn't skin colour or religion or lifestyle that makes you Canadian or American. I think, that is a very important thing to remember.

It is absolutely asinine and ignorant and asshated when people talk about Muslims invading their country or how Americans need to take back what is theirs. Because listen, this country is many Muslim's country, and they are doing what is their right. They have freedom of religion and the right to practice their religion just like everyone else. Until someone starts having ritual sacrifices or throwing puppies in blenders to appease their gods, they have the right to practice and worship how they want (because they aren't harming anyone).

I realize that burning the Quran isn't directly harming anyone either. But the action is being done with the sole purpose of offending an entire religion. The people in Canada and America who are Muslim have already had to put up with a lot of shit, persecution and discrimination over the last many years (because they've been unfairly linked with maniacs). You can see where this is just one more abuse they have to suffer, and one more personal attack against them. The worse part is, the people partaking in these actions are demonstrating that they don't consider Muslims to be fellow citizens. They are outright displaying a feeling that Muslim don't belong and are what is wrong with America. What is really wrong with America and this continent, is outright idiocy and bigotry. These actions are the type of steps that will create a serious divide in the West. It has been said before, this is exactly what the terrorists and extremist wanted in the first place.

The scariest part for me, is the language being used and the sentiments being conveyed are the stepping stones to something much more awful. This type of language has been used before in history, and over time has built up such violent rage that unthinkable atrocities were committed. I know that Nazi Germany is overused when one wants to use an example for disgusting actions committed by a mob mentality, but please bear with me here. Before World War II or the Holocaust, Hitler made it known that Jews were what was wrong with Germany. He decried how they were not real Germans and how he was disgusted by their religious practices and culture. He went as far as trying to claim that Jews were attempting to take over the world and they needed to lose places of power. He continued to spread that hate and bile throughout the nation, until the point where even good Germans started thinking or saying it. I don't think any German, even Hitler, was thinking mass genocide in 1936. It was something that came about as the hate grew and grew, and people started to demonize the Jews more and more. My point is, such major atrocities are not planned from the outset. They start with small acts of hate and bigotry. They come when people start labeling a group as the 'other' and then they slowly start viewing them as second class or animals. This leads to a group being dehumanized so much or being depicted as an enemy for so long that any type of compassion or mercy has been exterminated. The groups is now just a problem that needs to be eliminated, and there is no empathy left. This is what leads to the worst possible acts imaginable.

You may be saying that I'm pulling a Keith Olberman and being overly dramatic. I probably am. You may be saying that it will never get to that extent. I really, really, really want you to be right. I hope, in 5 years you can wag your finger at me and say that I was rambling on for nothing. We can look back and see it never got as bad as I was threatening it to be. I don't want it to happen. I really hope the goodness of mankind overpowers the hatred being spread by the few (I definitely believe the majority are still seeing all this as nonsense).

I still think it is important to remember the past. More importantly, I think we need to realize what is happening is not trivial. This outright discrimination is bad for Canada and America and every place where freedom and rights are respected. You don't need to agree with the Muslim faith, to recognize they have rights and should be treated respectively. We are allowed to disagree with a person's beliefs or lifestyle, but we still need to remember they have rights. We definitely need to remember they are humans.

I trust that when most take time to reflect, they realize what is happening is the epitome of discrimination and alienation. It is an act being committed against fellow citizens. It is the opposite of community and growth. Going down this route will only drive a wedge further between relations and continue to ruin chances for understanding and empathy. It is my biggest hope that we move towards reconciliation and look at ways to fix the damage that has already been done. To disagree does not mean we can't still have love, empathy and understanding.

Edit: It now looks like Terry Jones has postponed 'Burn a Quran Day', and though that is good news, it seems like he had some demands before he'd do it.

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