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Earnest Harris: Islam Is Not Our Enemy

11 September 2010 Huffington Post No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

I can’t help but comment on this growing “Islamophobia,” or fear of Islam and Muslims, that seems to be a growing problem in this country.

Honestly I didn’t even know such a word existed until recently. That’s just sad. Not that I didn’t know the word existed, but that there is such a need for a word to describe the feeling. Clearly in America, a largely Christian country, Islam has always been a “foreign” religion, one I dare say most Americans know very little about. But since 9-11 it has become more and more a religion that increasing numbers of Americans seem to have no problem being openly bigoted against. Throw in the uproar over the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York and this thing has really exploded. And by no means is this limited to the protests over the mosque in New York. Other states have also seen protests and ugliness related to mosques and Muslims.

One of the most interesting and stupid manifestations of this anti-Muslim fervor is the large numbers of people who love to claim Obama is a Muslim. What’s interesting isn’t how wrong they are about this but rather the fact that the accusation is clearly thrown out there as if being a Muslim would be another strike against him. In other words the way it is said, it is clear being Muslim would not be good. People who say it, say it like it is some dark crime or secret. The argument many make is that their point is that he is lying, not that he is a Muslim. Yeah right.

It is so ironic that the foundation of our country is supposedly our willingness to accept other people from wherever and whatever their beliefs. Our open society. And yet it is very clear with this open Islamophobia, that we are not as open as we pretend.

Islam is the religion of a lot of good people. Over a billion of them throughout the world. America is making a fool of itself and its principles over this issue and it does not make us look good in the eyes of many citizens around the world, Muslim and otherwise.

Some of this is just a fear of the unknown, thus the public service videos being put out by Muslim organizations. I hope they work.

But it is also a sad statement that they/we have to put out videos letting some Americans know that Muslims are just people too. How can some of these people not know this already? If they don’t already know it, I don’t know how effective these videos will be.

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