“And They Call Me Barbarian”


Remember this scene from “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991)*? After witnessing Robin deliberately lie to his own English folk about the number of enemies approaching them, the North African Muslim character Azeem reflects to himself and says, “And they call me barbarian.”  Here’s the clip for those who haven’t seen it or need their memories refreshed:

Yeah, that’s my reaction whenever white non-Muslims like James Holmes go around shooting and killing innocent people. “And they call us (Muslims) terrorists,” I say.

Of course James Holmes, who indiscriminately opened fire on moviegoers at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado,  is not called a “terrorist” because that term is reserved for Muslims only. Instead, Holmes is pronounced “mentally ill,” an ableist and inaccurate narrative since most people struggling with mental illnesses do not act out violently. Dismissed in the stereotyping of disabled bodies are the serious societal and political factors that contribute to the culture of violence in the United States. Meanwhile, white non-Muslim and able-bodied people never have to worry about being collectively blamed, stigmatized, racially profiled, or subjected to racist laws that target their entire race/community due to the violent actions of one man.

Even if some media outlets like NPR refer to Holmes as a terrorist, the narrative is still very different than how stories about Muslims are covered. When Muslims do it, the term “terrorist” is assigned to not just one person, but the entire community and religion. It’s heavily racialized and presented as an organized, “foreign” problem that threatens the existence of western civilization. White non-Muslim bodies like Holmes are ultimately seen as individuals, as “lone wolves,” and as “mentally ill.” The consequences of a white non-Muslim person committing an act of terror like this does not, as I pointed out, result in widespread, societal, and institutionalized discrimination against all white people.

In other words, I highly doubt Sherlock Holmes is worried about his next movie not being a hit just because he shares the same last name as a white terrorist. I’m confident that people with the first name “James” won’t get harassed with offensive questions like, “Have you ever thought about changing your name after what happened in Colorado?” (in the same way men with the first name “Osama” are). Also, I’m pretty sure that people who dress up as the Joker for Halloween aren’t going to be stopped in the street by police officers and demanded to provide their photo IDs or an explanation of why they’re dressed as Batman’s arch-nemesis  (in case you didn’t know, Holmes told the police, “I am the Joker”).

And let’s be honest about white non-Muslim privilege and power: a Muslim person wouldn’t have been able to legally purchase vast amounts of firepower (4 guns, 6,000 rounds of ammunition) Holmes did without having a visit from the FBI. Are the NYPD-CIA spy teams considering to infiltrate white neighborhoods, Presbyterian churches (since Holmes was reported to have been highly involved with his church), and schools in the same way they violated the rights of countless Muslims in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania? Do World War II buffs who collect German military uniforms, firearms, and other weapons need to worry about their homes being searched without warrants?

White supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy easily tells us that the answer is “no,” white non-Muslims do not need to be profiled or spied upon. Forget that James Holmes’ terrorism reveals the failure of gun control in the US and forget that opening fire in a movie theater shows how vulnerable people are. The “real threat,” we are constantly reminded, is from the “illegal immigrants,” the racialized peoples, the Muslims from “over there” who have the “mission” to “destroy the west from within.” These “real threats” need to be monitored, but not the white people who buy guns, ballistics gear, and ridiculous amounts of ammunition.

Lastly, I came across articles on Gawker and the New York Daily News about people who identify themselves as “Holmies,” or fans of James Holmes. They have Tumblr blogs, Facebook group pages, and YouTube videos in tribute of James Holmes. It is noteworthy to point out that these fans are predominately white and even try to emulate his manner of dress.  As one article put it, James Holmes has inspired “an online legion of ‘fans’ who upload original artworks and photos of themselves sporting Holmes-inspired plaid shirts flannel and sipping Slurpees.”

And they call us barbarians.

* Just a few thoughts on “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” I agree with Jack Shaheen, author of “Reel Bad Arabs,” that the character of Azeem represents one of the rare positive images we see of Muslims in Hollywood cinema. However, I also agree with Sumbul Ali-Karamali, author of “The Muslim Next Door,” that while Azeem is a hero, he is still otherized. I find the “devout mystical dude” and “loyal white man’s servant” portrayal of him to be really problematic and stereotypical, for sure. There are some moments when I appreciate how his character serves as a (often humorous) critique of romanticized European history (especially the Crusades) and the white imagination’s negative perception of Muslims and Islam.

145 thoughts on ““And They Call Me Barbarian”

  1. I wrote similar stuff on my blog in a post about the tragedies in Aurora and Bulgaria that week. Yeah, it’s pretty messed up how hypocritical America is and how politicized the topic of gun safety has become in these recent years.

  2. Just wanted to say that I agree with what you said here. I am a Christian and my first thoughts when someone commits an act of terrorism (I believe that’s what this was) are of sadness for what took place. It doesn’t matter what the person’s skin color is, or their ethnicity, or their religious beliefs, they have committed an act of terror against other human beings, and that is extremely saddening. Thank you.

  3. By no means am I agreeing with those folks who see Holmes as some sort of of twisted hero nor do I agree with the idea that all Muslims are evil simply because a handful decided to hijack some planes on day in September. I do think, though, that this opinion of Muslims primarily stems from that day. Honestly, outside of knowing that Muslim was a religion, I didn’t give it much thought before 9/11. Now I’m aware that not only is it a religion, but that the hijackers were of that religion. And that’s it. I’m not going to blame an entire religion or race or people for something that a few did. I am not of the belief that “one bad apple spoils the bunch” though, sadly, most people are.

    I think the difference between the Muslim and Holmes issue that you brought up is the manner in which it was done. What I mean is, that Holmes grabbed some guns, put on a costume of sorts, walked into a crowded theater and began shooting is something that is, again sadly, becoming common place here in the U.S. And for the most part, the people that do it seem to be white. You’re upset that your boss fired you? Well, go and show him how you really feel about it! I mean, it’s so sad to know that’s how feelings get resolved these days. Is Holmes really insane? Who knows? He’s probably the only one who has the answer to that question. But I do believe there has to be some level of “something’s not quite right up there” in order to have done what he did. I mean, who does that??? Certainly not me, but then I don’t know what was going on inside his head either.

    The thing about this country suddenly taking notice of Muslims is because 9/11 happened. And the way that it happened that was so incredible it has been etched into our collective brains. This wasn’t someone that grabbed a gun, walked into an office building, and pulled the trigger. This was a group of men that planned for months, maybe even years, how they were going to take control of some planes – specific planes, planes that were traveling a very long distance and therefore would have lots of jet fuel in them – and fly them into specific targets. And in doing so would end up killing lots and lots of people. You don’t see that everyday and when you do become a witness to it you can’t help but wonder, who did it and why? And it just so happened that they were Muslim. Had they been Scientologists Tom Cruise would be a very unfavorable person these days.

    So, I just wanted to make myself clear that I don’t agree with the mass prejudice of Muslims that came out of 9/11. But I can understand why some people decided to take that view point. Some of the survivors of the Colorado shooting have said that it will be a long time before they go to the movies again. To me that sounds so odd. I mean, the theater didn’t pull the trigger, some guy did, but to them everything about that night is now affected by what happened. I was in a bike accident several years ago. I got “door-ed” by someone who didn’t take the time to look in his side view mirror before opening his door. Since then I’m _still_ nervous about riding my bike in the street. When I do and happen to ride along side parked cars my anxiety level goes up because I’m almost certain that a door will open in front of me. And I know that I shouldn’t think that way. That I should just enjoy the ride, but I can’t. What happened to me that summer day is forever etched into my brain.

    I wish I could speak for all Americans when I say that we don’t all see Muslims as terrorists, but I can’t.

    • Hi “Simple Heart Girl,”

      First off, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read and share your feedback.

      Regardless of how different the hijackers of 9/11 were from James Holmes, the point of my article was to address how reactions to these acts of terror are very different (and I am not simply talking about James Holmes, but other white men who have committed horrible crimes too). That is, Muslims are wrongly stereotyped, stigmatized, profiled, and discriminated against based on stereotypical assumptions people have about our faith and community. As I mentioned, white people will never have to worry about people profiling them or thinking that they’re going to be the “next James Holmes.” White people are treated as individuals, and that is how all people should be treated, too (not as stereotypical groups).

      Unfortunately, Islamophobia has been around since before 9/11. I wrote several posts on this, but if you look at Hollywood cinema for starters, you’ll notice that movies have been vilifying Muslims for a very long time — well before 9/11. Islamophobia just has become heightened after 9/11, and it has received more attention in the media (even though the media coverage is really horrible).

      As a Muslim, I cannot understand or rationalize prejudice against Muslims. I do not think it is understandable or fair for people to stereotype Muslims based on what happened on 9/11. Since I don’t stereotype white people or think they’re all terrorists like James Holmes, why should non-Muslims stereotype Muslims? What needs to happen is that we learn how to treat and view people as individuals, not as stereotypes. When we recognize that every person has value, that every person is different, and that every person has their own individuality, then we will truly understand what it means to not stereotype others.

      You do not need to speak for all Americans when you say not all non-Muslims see Muslims as terrorists. I know this full well – I grew up here and I have many non-Muslim friends. :)

      Thanks again.

      • Simple Heart Girl in essence reveals what exactly happened on that day: Americans were awakened to a violence that they usually only get to perpetrate, either on their own people or abroad, for its entire history. I was in New York on that day, and I was also in Beirut for 33 days of war in 2006, which left 1500+ dead and with as much rubble removed from the nearby neighborhood targeted as those towers. Which one do we hear about? Know about? React to? In this light, the “normal” reaction she quotes as innocently just happening to the American populace is in fact a “stepping into” well worn and comfortable racist and imperialist shoes. Which brings us back to your excellent post. Thank you.

      • Oh, I absolutely agree that everyone should be treated equally. That’s how I want to be treated and so that’s how I treat people. (By the way, I’m Mexican.)

        I was living in Brussels for a short while last year and hardly spoke any French and knew no Dutch. Those are the two main languages there with English coming in third. Still, French, for the most part, is the main language in Brussels. So, because I didn’t know either language I always spoke in English. Never really thinking too much about it even though everyone around me rarely spoke it.

        One day I was walking down the street with my then boyfriend’s son (who was 12) and he and I were having a conversation, in English. We were minding our own business and happened to pass by two men and a woman who were Middle Eastern. As we passed by them one of the men made a comment. At first I wasn’t sure whether it was aimed at me, but then he said something else and I knew he was talking to me. I turned to look at him (I was wearing sunglasses) perplexed by why he would be talking to me. I didn’t say anything to him, I just turned back to look, and that’s when he went off on me. Saying some of the most terrible things that have ever been said to me. Calling me names like the “C” word. I have never in my life been called that. I was absolutely thrown back by what was happening. Part of me wanted to run the other felt angry that I was being verbally attacked without having done anything to deserve it.

        I know that I should have just kept walking, but I couldn’t help myself and I did say a couple of things back to him, this only seemed to piss him off even more because it was then that he blamed me for the death of Osama Bin Laden. That’s when I got really scared, scared of what he might do next if he was willing to accuse me of something so insane. So I quickly turned around and continued to walk, this time at a much quicker pace. All of this happened in front of the 12 year old boy I had been walking with.

        I never saw the men again, but those few minutes shook me. Brussels is a city of various nationalities because the EU is located there. After arriving there I hadn’t really felt out of place because, the way I saw it, I was just one more ex-pat living in Brussels. But then that happened and suddenly I became very aware and self-conscious of the fact that I was an American. I went from not caring that I spoke English wherever I was to saying very little, or speaking in a slightly lower voice. And, yes, if I walked by a man that looked Middle Eastern I felt myself get tense. And I felt something else, fear. I hated that I felt that. I felt angry that because of those two idiots I was now feeling this.

        I am no longer living in Brussels. I am back in the States and, sadly, that moment is something I feel I won’t ever forget. Do I still feel that fear I felt then? No, but then I’m “home”. But I also don’t want to be *that* person. The kind of person that lumps everyone together because of something stupid that two people did.

      • Sorry to hear about your experiences. That’s really awful and I think it’s important to stress that misogyny exists in all communities. It is not something that is particular to one group, but there is also a long history of how Native American men, black men, brown men, and Muslim men are seen as the “real misogynists,” or the “real rapists.” Here is a quote from bell hooks, the anti-racist feminist author who inspires me:

        “In our actual lives, the imperialist white-supremacist policies of our government lead to enactments of rituals of white-male violent domination of a darker universe, as in both the Gulf war and the most recent war against Iraq. By making it appear that the threatening masculinity – the rapist, the terrorist, the murderer – is really a dark other, white male patriarchs are able to deflect attention away from their own misogyny, from their violence against women and children.”

        A friend of mine did a recent study on Muslim women in North America and how they are on the receiving end of anti-Muslim violence. Usually when people talk about Islamophobia, they focus on the male experience and forget that Muslim women, too, are affected by it. Also check out this article on Altmuslimah where the author addresses this important issue:

        http://www.altmuslimah.com/b/gva/4537

        I hope you aren’t afraid of all Muslim men from your experience. The men who verbally assaulted you with those disgusting and sexist remarks need to be held accountable. Sexism continues to perpetuate in all societies and there needs to be more organized efforts against it.

        I am a Muslim man and I hope you are comfortable writing and sharing your thoughts here. :)

  4. I’m SO glad you’ll have a HUGE audience for this post — more people need to understand this!

    Congratulations to you … and thank you for illuminating such an important topic.

  5. A voice of reason. Thank you for posting on the subject. I thought the same thing when I heard the news: they won’t be calling *him* (Holmes) a terrorist. To tell you the truth, as a brown woman, I fear groups of young, white males. Now I’ll have to fear them individually. Yikes!

      • Constance – Not really. Women of color do not have the institutional power to oppress men, especially white men. Full stop.

        I cannot speak for “tmso,” but I believe her comment addresses a serious problem that exists in our society, and rather than labeling her “racist,” we should make the effort to understand the experience. Being a brown man, what do I know about living in the body of a brown women (or any women for that matter). There is a long, violent, and colonial history of white men oppressing women of color and I think that needs to be taken into account. Also, there is patriarchy and misogyny from men of color as well, and there are a lot of women of color who are confronting sexist oppression on both fronts.

  6. Thank you thank you thank you. This all needed to be said.

    I also wanted to note, however, the general problem with the “mentally ill” stereotype as well. People are getting up in arms about “He was on bad medication! That’s what made him crazy!”

    I am on all the same meds he was, and you don’t see me mass murdering innocents.

    It’s not the illness, IT’S THE PERSON.

    Also, the fan club thing made me actually sick to my stomach. My God! The world is truly lost.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Rachel! I know, it’s ridiculous and offensive when people blame the medications or his illness for how he acted out. It definitely is the person who is the problem. The fan club is really disturbing and I hope we all can come together and come up with effective ways to prevent such tragedies from happening again. Take care!

  7. Suffice to say that there are criminals of all stripes and colors attempting to wreak havoc on all societies, and our particular and individual bents notwithstanding, a fair and representative system of pursuit and punishment has yet to be devised. Nevertheless, neighbors are still neighbors and should be treated as such.

  8. If you ever get around to mining the chip on your shoulder, you could be rich. The trouble with self-pity is that it skews perceptions and leaves the sufferer wandering in a fog of self-delusion.

    But if self-delusion is what it takes to make you feel honorable about YOUR racism, then, drink the cup to the dregs. When you grow up, you might want to step back a bit and open your eyes. The world is not anything like the way you see it.

    However, the way you see the world would make an excellent “reason” for blowing up a sidewalk cafe full of “non-Muslim White” people. Do you realize how close to the edge you are?

    • Um, excuse me? “Close to the edge” of what? I’m not standing on the edge of anything, but nice job in projecting your racist stereotypes upon me. It’s sad that you didn’t get the witty analysis I was going for in this post.

      This is never about self-pity at all, and I do not have a chip on my shoulder.

      Also, I don’t drink. I’m actually fasting today because it’s the beautiful month of Ramadan (yay!). You’re more than welcome to join us in our mosques for our evening dinners! Don’t worry, there’s no preaching or talk of blowing stuff up. Just lots of wonderful people serving delicious food to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. :)

  9. Tell it like it is!! I get so angry at the way Muslims are persistently tarred with the Taliban brush. People who do a kamikaze on others are just plain sick in the head, and will use any justification to make their actions seem reasonable. But when in the entire history of Islam, there was only one case of suicide assassination (the Ismaili sect, in about the 8th century) up until the first Hamas bombing, apart from the massively important legal proscriptions on killing non-combatants, and the incredibly tight restrictions on waging war itself, it just doesn’t add up that Islam should condone it. But there are a lot of nutters out there. I read an article in the Guardian (UK) by Mehdi Hassan about all the abuse he’s had over the years as a Muslim journalist and it got me so riled I wrote this piece https://cavemum.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/the-hate-crowd/, perhaps you would find something that resonates with you there. Fi amanillah

  10. Pingback: #AugustWritingChallenge – Day 2 – Stereotype « Golden Press
  11. As someone coming from the East, I don’t know much about the killing. However, as a human being, I see what’s wrong with their system. They’re paranoid and prejudiced to the point that it has become ridiculous.

  12. Good article. Muslims are definitely unfairly maligned in the media. A few points I hope will be taken as constructive criticism. I don’t think, as you say, ‘terrorist’ is a term reserved for Muslims. Here in the UK we suffered terrorism for years (not on the same scale as 9/11, I accept) as a result of the Catholic/Protestant conflict in Northern Ireland; Spain has ETA; there have been many political terrorist groups over the years who were called terrorists at the time. Also, using James Holmes as an example isn’t quite accurate in my view. He wasn’t part of an organised group with a religious/political agenda as far as I know. He was just another psychotic spree killer. Although Muslims should not be discriminated against as a group of people, law enforcement and others responsible for our security would be remiss not to target groups, whatever their creed or colour, who have an ideology that involves mass murder.

    • I would like to point out however, that here in the US, the majority of recorded mass murders occurring on American soil were perpetuated by White men. Just sayin.

      • Fair comment, same here in the UK. I think that was my point. It’s not just Muslims who get called terrorists. Nor is it just Muslims who are terrorists. I don’t think that Muslim terrorists should be excluded from being targeted just for the sake of causing offence. You can call all murderers terrorists if you want but most people understand the word as having a specific meaning ie. using terror for a religious or political ends.

    • Westwickletimes,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts! Many of the points you brought up were already addressed in the post. For instance, I really think we need to stop perpetuating ableist stereotypes whenever a white person commits an act of violence. Whenever Muslims act out violently, the blame is placed squarely upon their religion, culture, and community. It is the reason why I, and countless other Muslims, struggle with discrimination. That is my primary concern about stereotypes: they are projected unto real people and that is how it becomes dangerous. Whenever a white man, whether its Anders Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, or James Holmes doing it, the rest of the white community doesn’t have to worry about being asked questions like, “Can you explain why white people do this?” or even be called “terrorist” to their face from high school bullies or random customers in the workplace.

      I encourage you to befriend Muslims if you haven’t already and try to make efforts to understand how targeting our community with law enforcement spying really hurts us. I get annoyed saying this disclaimer all the time, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Muslims are not violent people (there are over 1.5 billion of us). With my work, I try to encourage people to view Muslims as individuals, not as “groups” or a “religion” or a “race” (which is how we are discussed and treated in the media). Just like every white non-Muslim person is not a terrorist like James Holmes, not every Muslim is one either. We are an incredibly diverse, complex, multi-layered people just like any other community, and that is what we want to be appreciated and respected for.

      I hope this helps us understand each other better.

      • It must be horrible to experience daily prejudice. From what I’ve seen of FOX news(if you can call it news) it is totally prejudiced. My point was that I don’t think that terrorist is a term that only gets used on Muslim’s. But you’re right that Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist and didn’t get labelled as such but there are a lot of non-Muslim terror groups that do get labeled as terrorist (maybe not in the US though in fairness).
        Prejudice and stereotyping is wrong. Forty years ago if you had left wing views you were a threat because you might be a communist. Until recently people with Northern Irish accents at customs would arouse suspicion in Britain because they might be IRA. That’s wrong. But a real threat should not be ignored. There were communist plots instigated by the Soviet Union(not as many as the right would have us believe though). The IRA were (are) real and they wanted to kill people. Islamic terrorism is real and should not be ignored. But what we do about it should perhaps be looked at. However, real plots have been uncovered through spying. How else can you gather intelligence. When the next atrocity happens and the question is asked of the FBI about what intelligence they had gathered about organisation responsible, I don’t think that ‘We didn’t do any, we didn’t want to hurt anybodies feelings,’ isn’t going to wash. I know the vast majority of Muslims aren’t violent but how are plots supposed to be uncovered if intelligence is not gathered. And maybe it’s better to target members of the KuKluxKlan and risk offending the ‘white community’ than do nothing. The same way it’s better to target members of extreme Islamic organisations than doing nothing.
        You can broaden out the term ‘terrorist’ if you want. But most people understand it as being as someone who uses violence to forward a political or religious ideal as part of an organised or loosely organised group outside of the government or military. I think it muddies the water a bit by including spree killers. Maybe we should get rid of the term altogether. But we do need to use words that we all understand, just to avoid confusion. Please don’t take this personally I think we both agree less prejudice and more understanding it the way ahead. love from a white atheist.

      • Westwickletimes,

        I have devoted a lot of my work to doing research on Islamophobia, Muslim-Americans, and discriminatory acts that impact all marginalized people. Throughout this blog, I have written extensively about Islamophobia and one of the areas I focus mostly on is western media representations of Muslims and Islam.

        Having said that, you are correct that Timothy McVeigh and other white terrorists are sometimes called terrorists. However, as I mentioned in my post, even if they are called terrorists, the narrative is very different than when the story is about a Muslim. The entire Muslim community is stigmatized, blamed, profiled, put under surveillance, and victimized by hate crimes and discrimination. This is the difference that I am stressing upon. *How* we discuss terrorism when it is done by people of color is extremely different than when a white person does it. This is important and serious because the stereotypes get projected unto real bodies. For example, it’s serious when a young Muslim boy in high school is bullied and called “Osama.” It’s serious when a Middle Eastern young man is beaten so badly by bullies in a racist hate crime that he suffers from brain damage (see article below):

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/david-osama-haddad-indian_n_1094713.html

        Yes, the IRA were referred to as terrorists, but let’s be real. Do you really think Irish people are discriminated against in the same way Muslims are? Whenever I meet people who are Irish, they are met with positive comments about how people like their accents, appreciate their culture, music, etc. This is a big difference when I answer questions about where I am from. When I say, “Pakistan,” most of the replies I get are negative and ignorant. Sometimes they are bigoted (like one man said, “Shame on you!” to me when I said I was from Pakistan). These are responses that I have learned to anticipate and prepare myself for. I am not saying that there aren’t any prejudices left for the Irish or Jews, but it’s not the same as the way people of color and Muslims are stigmatized. And don’t get me started on how South Asian accents are perceived, and how the people with those accents are treated/viewed compared to folks who have British, Australian, or New Zealand accents.

        I am uncomfortable with your rationalizing of spying upon Muslim communities and it leaves me to think that you haven’t done enough research on it. If you have at least one or two Muslim friends who are affiliated with civil rights groups, you will see how the NYPD-CIA spying on Muslims is a very serious deal. Studies have been released over the years that the threat of “domestic Muslim terrorists” within the United States is highly exaggerated. Read the study here:

        http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-06/us/muslim.radicalization.study_1_radicalization-muslim-americans-anti-terrorism?_s=PM:US

        Next, you should read about Craig Monteilh, the ex-FBI informant who infiltrated Muslim communities and posed as a Muslim to gather information.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/20/fbi-informant

        Like so many informants, he was permitted to have sex with Muslim women if it would obtain information. This needs to be connected to a larger discourse of how “misogynists make great informants.” A lot of communities that are perceived as “threats” to the state are infiltrated in this manner, and the sexual violence and misogyny that results from these operations are really dangerous. Read here:

        http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/why-misogynists-make-great-informants-how-gender-violence-on-the-left-enables-state-violence-in-radical-movements/

        You argue that extreme Muslim movements should be targeted for spying, the extreme movements are not being targeted. It’s the regular, everyday Muslims – who represent the MAJORITY – that are being targeted. Have you read the AP report? Muslim neighborhoods, schools, mosques were being spied upon. Even Muslim students at Rutgers, Yale, and UPenn were being spied on. Criminalizing Muslim students is just outrageous.

        And if the point of spying is prevent violence from happening, then what about white men like Jared Loughner, Joseph Stack, and James Holmes? Who was watching them? So busy spying on Muslims and failing to prevent violence from white people? Their acts of terror just show that violence and terrorism comes from ALL people, irrespective of race. As Mechasketch already pointed out, the majority of violence is coming from white males. Muslims are not causing the majority of violence, so why infiltrate and violate their rights, especially when their community is witnessing a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes? (As reported by the FBI – read below)

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-potok/fbi-reports-dramatic-spik_b_1092996.html

        Anyway, I appreciate the discussion. There are lots of Muslim lawyers who are better able to explain why spying on their community is not effective. Watch the clip below, for example.

        Hope this helps.

  13. You yourself are showing a bit of racism against white people by bringing color into this conversation about terrorism.

    A person’s color, whether he’s black, white, or whatever does not cause a man to be a terrorist. It is a dark and disturbed heart that causes a man to do such violence, Terrorism comes from within, as does racism. Thanks, Connie

    • I’m sorry you feel that way, but I believe there is a serious misunderstanding. This is a common assumption that anti-racist writers, activists, scholars, and even teachers hear when addressing racial inequality. I am not speaking about skin color directly – I am talking about something much broader, and that is the interlocking systems of oppression. Racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression are all interconnected. On the deepest level of humanity, NONE of us are superior to one another based upon any of these positions. In Islam, we are taught from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that “An Arab is not superior to a non-Arab (and vice versa) nor is a white superior to a black (and vice versa).”

      That is not what is being discussed here. What I’m addressing is how the man-made systems of oppression in the United States do not operate within this spirit of appreciating and respecting ALL people for who they are. Statistics show that racial inequality and racism is still a very real and serious problem.

      White privilege is a product of how these systems operate, too. For example, a white non-Muslim person is NEVER going to be profiled or be called a “terrorist” just because of the actions of James Holmes. Muslims on the other hand (as the FBI reported in November), are subjected to a rise in hate crimes and discriminatory acts.

      In order to reach that point in society where we all respect and truly believe that we have a a common bond in humanity, we need to dismantle all forms of oppression, especially the oppression that is targeted towards marginalized communities. There *are* communities that having it more worse than others, and it’s important to address these issues so that we can better understand each other’s experiences, histories, and stories.

      Please read this article by bell hooks in case you misunderstand my usage of certain phrases like “white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy”:

      http://garconniere.tumblr.com/post/5548519811/why-white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy

  14. I don’t think it matters that James Holmes was white or non-Muslim. If he was a “fundamentalist” of any religion, they would labeled him a “terrorist” no matter the color of his skin, but he is a liberal agnostic and media would not say that of their own.

    It is just as much prejudice to prejudge someone to be racist based on the color of one’s skin. This is not an attack, but I find your article to be racist liberalism as your present your own prejudice stating, “White supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy easily tells us that the answer is ‘no,’ white non-Muslims do not need to be profiled or spied upon. Forget that James Holmes’ terrorism reveals the failure of gun control in the US and forget that opening fire in a movie theater shows how vulnerable people are.”

    • This is not an attack on your opinion but a mere suggestion, but I would suggest you took some classes on Gender, Race, And Class so you can see that in fact what he’s saying is a very well known truth: white privilege dictates what white privilege considers dangerous. Therefore people who belong to the privileged class aren’t dangerous.

    • Thank you, Mechasketch for providing that explanation and advice!

      Scott – I’m sorry that you find this post to be “racist liberalism,” but if you are open to learning new things, allow me to explain that the terminology “white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy” is addressing the interlocking systems of oppression that currently exist. I’ve borrowed this phrase, like so many other writers have, from anti-racist feminist author bell hooks. Please read her interview here where she explains the terminology in greater detail!

      http://garconniere.tumblr.com/post/5548519811/why-white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy

  15. Agree with this. Well done.
    And there is another quote from this film about one person defending their own land being worth a thousand (can’t remember number, but loads anyway) paid mercenaries. Which is an interesting thought if you apply it to some parts of the world just now. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  16. Thank you for writing this. Your comments on the white, patriarchal, hetero power dynamics in this respect is so spot on. What bothers me the most is that a lot of these issues that people want to point the finger at “terrorists” for issues that started with a very complicated history/interaction, and with the American government in the middle of it. In any case this is brilliant.

  17. Admin Note: Ok, you wrote a racist comment about Muslims and Islam and then ended with this: “It is no surprise to me that this post would make the FP page. This type of misguided essay typically does.”

    All I have to say is, it’s no surprise to me that your comment will not be published here. Your type of racist hatred typically gets you banned from commenting here. The only thing that is dangerous here is your Islamophobia. Hater.

  18. Wow! I was really surprised to receive so many comments today on my blog! Thank you all for commenting and sharing your thoughts! It is the holy month of Ramadan and I am quite busy with friends and family, so I apologize in advance if I don’t get to all of your comments, but know that the support is really appreciated! Thank you again!

    Lastly, for the very few people who come here and leave comments that attack the religion of Islam or call me a “racist,” please refer to my comment policy guidelines. This is safe space where people are encouraged to show respect to each other, even if we disagree. Islamophobia, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, ableism, and other oppressive remarks will not be tolerated. :)

  19. Another rare positive images we see of Muslims in Hollywood cinema” is the character portrayed by Djimon Hounsou, named Abou Fatma, but it’s also a “loyal white man’s servant”.

    One other thing, do you know of this happening also in Europe, and if so, less or more?

  20. Exactly! I told my friend the same thing when the news broke about the shooting. I said, ‘he’s mentally-ill??? he’s a terrorist!’. Terrorism means use of terror! Just that! Anyway, thanks for posting this… By the way, I am a Christian (born and raised) but every time someone asks me what my religion is, I pause and say ‘to do what is good’. That should be everyone’s religion. And everyone’s race should be ‘people of the world’.

  21. Thank you for your thoughtful reply and comments. This has really got me thinking about things… I think this might also get at the issue of “who speaks for Islam?” This is a really important question because I hear many different things from many different Muslims, which one should I listen to?

    Is the authority Jehanzeb? Is it the three prominent Muslims who appeared on Oprah’s show 29 days after 9/11? (they were: Queen Rania of Jordan, American University Professor Akbar Ahmed, and Pakistani Diplomat Dr. Maleeha Lodhi who quotes Surah 5:32) Or is it Militant Muslims who seem to take Surah 4:74 or 9:111 literally, perhaps motivated by the description of heaven in Surah 55:46-58 or 56:12-24? How can we know what Islam is really about? At least one of the above if not all of the above have made an Islam that they are comfortable with and that makes sense to them, but is not the real Islam. All can be wrong, but not all can be correct. Either Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by some violent Muslims or Islam is a violent religion that has been hijacked by some peaceful Muslims.

    It seems like the writer of this blog is vehemently against those militant Muslims who take Surah’s 4:74 and 9:111 literally, and would never call such militant Muslims ‘brothers.’ On the other hand, if you would ask someone in Militant Islam, they would claim the author of this blog is a heretic, disobeying the Prophet because you love a thing which is bad for you (Surah 2:216) and will be found wanting when weighed on the scales at the end of his life (as per Surah 23:102-104).

    Since we can go back and forth about the true nature of Islam all day long, with each of us having a different version of Islam that we are comfortable with, I would like to appeal to authority. The answers aren’t given by any living person, the answers are in the Qur’an, and the Hadith, and the precedent established by Mohammed’s life (particularly the Sunnah). The peaceful Muslim does have to deal with what history tells us Islam was like, in particular the militant rapid expansion of Islam during the reign of the first four caliphs (who may have understood most accurately what Mohammed meant), as well as Surah 2:190-193, 4:89, 4:95, 5:33 (which is right after Surah 5:32 cited by Oprah’s guest), 8:38-39, 8:60, 8:67, 9:5, 9:29, 9:123, 47:4 to name a few things. The Militant Muslim has to deal with other Surah like 2:256, 6:70, 29:46, 2:62 and 109:6 to name a few.

    The principle of abrogation is important to keep in mind when interpreting the Qur’an (see Surah 2:106 and Surah 16:101). If one Surah is abrogated by another (a later revelation), the earlier one is no longer valid and not to be applied anymore. It can be a little tricky, which is why one must study the words of Allah to see what Allah really wants for the people of the world! Please don’t be guilty of making up a version of Allah that is a false allah, portraying Allah different than how he has revealed himself in the Qur’an and his workings in the life of Mohammed and the Caliphs that followed shortly after. That’s idolatry, which is what either the militant Muslims or the author of this blog and Oprah’s guests are guilty of… :(

    Thank you for reading my post, I hope that you all grow in the truth and find the right path to eternity. :)

    • Matthew – Hmm, it seems like you are here to preach about how you believe Islam is an intolerant and violent religion. Why are you asking questions when you’ve already made up your mind about Islam?

      Many of the stereotypes you mentioned have been addressed and answered on this blog (if you care to explore it). You are perpetuating a harmful good Muslim/bad Muslim dichotomy which (again) has been addressed on this blog. Read here:

      http://muslimreverie.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/no-one-hijacked-islam-part-2/

      The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and non-violent, so there is your answer about what Muslims believe and what Islam teaches. There is also a book entitled “Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed. You should consider checking it out.

      I also think it’s important to ask yourself if you ask these same questions to Christians and Jews? By your logic, you must think there’s a struggle between “militant Christians” and “peaceful Christians,” right?

      Lastly, you derailed the topic of this post and are pulling, what I call, the flying carpet fallacy. Read here:

      http://muslimreverie.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/the-flying-carpet-fallacy/

      Before you make another condescending comment and suggest that you know my faith better than me, please review my comment policy guidelines (and please, Islamophobes, can you at least hold off on your offensive remarks until *after* Ramadan?) Thanks. :)

      • Hi Jehanzeb, I apologize for pulling the flying carpet fallacy, some of my comments were a bit out there I must admit. I also had no intention to preach that Islam is an intolerant and violent religion–that’s not what I meant to say. Since that is how I came across, I am sorry for that too. I am glad that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and non-violent and regret my using the phrase “hijacking” of the religion, but I am still holding on to it as a valid phrase and here’s why.

        I actually believe there is also a hijacking of Christianity going on in the world today, in particular in America. Here are three examples: we have Christian leaders who profess to know Christ, yet deny him by their works (being engaged in all kinds of immorality and adultery or scandals of some other nature). We also have many people who go to church, give 10% of their income to “God,” yet only pray and believe God exists to make their son with his high school football game and their daughter her dance recital. There is also a hijacking of Christianity that you seen on TV stations like TBN, where “if you donate $1,000 to me, God will give you nice things.” Finally, you also have people who claim to be Christian, yet slur hate speech at Muslims and live in fear of those ‘terrorists’ wishing all Muslims were in hell already. This is what a lot Christianity in America looks like, which anyone can easily discern by reading the Christian New Testament is entirely against the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels of the Christian New Testament as well as the rest of the teachings of the other New Testament authors. Actually, there are many words in the Christian New Testament that specifically condemn many professing Christians in America today. You all should read the Christian New Testament and see if the actions and words of Christians actually line up some time.

        Thus, if you took a survey of what Christianity is based upon much of American “Christianity” today, you would come up with a result that is complete opposite the teachings of its founders. Even if all Christians around the world start to practice adultery, and lying, and stealing, and gossiping, and at the same time still claiming to be Christian; they would not define true Christianity and would be playing the role of the hypocrite. They would be living a perversion of Christianity and are in the company of what people I’ve talked to love to point out: “with religious hypocrites.” From what I understand, a Christian defines true Christianity not by what he sees professing Christians do, but by what is written, venerating the New Testament and Old Testament as the actual Words of God, judging what he sees against the authority he or she claims to put their faith in.

        Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but don’t Muslims treat the Qur’an the same way, as the very words of Allah (in Arabic only though, English versions are aptly called a ‘translation of the Qur’an’)? So in the same way as I have outlined with this alleged ‘hijacking’ of Christianity, there could potentially be a ‘hijacking’ of Islam, where the majority of Muslims today may not be really following the very words of Allah as Allah intended and thus are playing the role of the hypocrite just the same as the Christian who does not follow the very words of the Christian God as outlined in the Christian New Testament. I’m not saying that this is the case, and you very well may be correct in what the Qur’an and Hadiths really teach, I’m simply trying to encourage anyone who reads these words to seek the truth and not take someone else’s word for it. Don’t take a Christian’s word for what the Bible really says (although he may have a good understanding, he could still well be a hypocrite), don’t take a Muslims word for what the Qur’an really says (although he may have a good understanding, he could still well be a hypocrite), don’t take a Jewish man’s word for what the Torah really teaches (although he may have a good understanding, he could still well be a hypocrite), etc.

        However if any of us have some difficulty in understanding each religion’s holy books, it would be wise to heed the counsel of Surah 10:94
        [i]And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers.[/i]

        (note: while Surah 10:94 specifically speaks of Muhammad asking Jewish people and Christians for help in understanding the Torah or the Injil, I believe the principle can be applied vice versa)

  22. I’d like to bring up one point which is at least being talked about within adoptee circles: The quick-to-point-out fact that Holmes was an adopted child. This will be used to equally “distance” him from what is the so so stable and normal American genetic stock that never ever goes whacko violent on anything or anybody.

    At what point do we have a discussion about how American culture is imbued with violence? Is based on violence? Engenders and perpetuates violence? And that its anti-Muslim [fill in every previous attacked minority group here] sentiment is a projection of its own failings as a society?

  23. There was something going around on Facebook showing a black guy, an Arab guy, and a picture of James Holmes. It said something like “If he does it, he is a gangster” (black), “if he does it, he is a terrorist” (Muslim) and “If he does it, he’s mentally ill” (James Holmes/white). I never thought about it before but it all felt into place. And this post just echoed that. It is true, whenever a white person goes on a shooting rampage, he or she is usually deemed mentally ill (like the tragedy last year in Norway, I think the guy was labeled a “Christian fundamentalist” but not a terrorist).

  24. Great post. This reminds me of the time I was a TA for an critical thinking class in college and helped facilitate a discussion on racial profiling. It was surprising, to me, how many people supported the idea–including students who might be negatively impacted by profiling practices. I’ve seen it posted around that some whites are also coming under suspicion. This puts the survivalist, militia-men types up in arms over an FBI that is profiling the “wrong” people. http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/constitutional_terrorist.htm
    http://vault.fbi.gov/Christian%20Identity%20Movement%20/

    I know the popular consciousness tends to picture only brown terrorists (which is bad for obvious reasons), but the reality seems to be that they’re keeping an eye on everyone. Although, that doesn’t make me feel much safer in the long run.

  25. Wow, I’m waaaay late. Fantastic post! :P I agree with you entirely. I also wanted to add that whenever a heterosexual white male goes on a murderous rampage, there’s this need from sociologists, psychologists, therapists, etc. to figure out what made them do what they did. It’s always “well society made him do it, he must have been suffering.” Psychologists really aren’t that different in this regard, and among others. I’ve never seen this with Muslims. Or any other ethnic minority for that matter.

  26. First, congrats on getting freshly pressed! It should not have been any other way. These are the kinds of conversations we need to be having. Thank you. I am/was a christian since 2007 and now i consider myself a spiritualist. I have many Muslim brothers who I cherish deeply and I am beginning to understand a religion and culture that has been misunderstood for far too long. In this country, from what we see in the media, the majority of these terrorists acts – let’s call it by its name – are being done by white Americans. And you’re absolutely right, they will never be considered terrorists, just crazy. Their race will not be scrutinized by those “random” acts, thus won’t be subjected to being spied upon or racially profiled. These issues need to be raised, and apart from being raised, they need to be heard, discussed and solved.

    By the way, I love your blog and will be following! :-)

    “Oh what a day when we unite as ONE” – Bob Marley

    Peace and Love,
    Moon

  27. This is a really thoughtful post, and I agree with what was said. Unfortunately, Islamaphobia dates back centuries before 9/11. It even predates the Crusades. However, the Crusades really crystalized the hatred and fear of Islam. The teachings of the Christian church, particularly the Catholic Church, have ingrained the hatred and fear of Islam into the hearts and minds of Christians. Unfortunately, most religions teach that they are the only true way to God, any other teaching is inferior, and people who believe differently are infidels. This is the real problem. If people would only respect others beliefs, and not expect everyone to believe what they believe, we just might be able to get past all this insanity!

    And yes, Muslims are racially profiled, as are black people, hispanics, and anyone else who doesn’t meet the standard. Whites have been taught by their religion that they are the superior race! What a lot of hog wash! If people would only stop and think…what is it that has made this country one of the best on the planet? It was the diversity of people, coming together, and working together that made us great. When we practice exclusion, we do it to our detriment! So, why don’t we start to work together to solve the problems of our country? The people who have moved here, for whatever reason, came because they wanted to be able to give their families a better life, so, let’s start making that better life for all of us and stop profiling and start accepting!

  28. Terrorist; noun
    1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
    2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
    3. (formerly) a member of a political group in Russia aiming at the demoralization of the government by terror.
    4. an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.

    I think before the word “terrorist” gets thrown around, which seems to happen a lot more these days, maybe it needs to be defined. “Terrorist” has several definitions, but in the “dictionary of public opinion”, these days, it usually means someone who would do something like what happened on 9/11. I’m not saying it’s right, but ever since then “terrorist” has been used to describe *that* kind of tragedy.

    But if we were to go with the actual definition of what a terrorist is, then yes James Holmes could be considered one.

  29. Admin Note: Your comment was deleted because you seem to think that making Islamophobic generalizations about Islam and Muslims will somehow encourage a respectful response from me. Don’t have any Muslim friends, I take it?

  30. super! I must say that WordPress has not shown any religous discrimination in putting this as freshly pressed! To say the least, when you live in a “global” village, you have to be careful, thoughtful, and respectful towards all your “villagers” . Before entering into 21st century, we all dreamt it to be a very advanced, civic and educated era of human history but it has only proved to be the most miserable one , mainly due to above mentioned conflicts. Why can’t we have “Peace and Respect for all” as the global theme for year 2013? Or perhaps as one of the upcoming development goals by the UN….?!!!

  31. I think Islam needs a better publicist. Maybe that will stop these Imams in Australia calling for women to be killed on the street for wearing mini skirts “in the name of Allah”. Good spin is everything. After all, it works for Scientology.

    • Um, so you’re basically blaming Muslims for Islamophobia. Let me ask you this: The white supremacist who opened fire at the Sikh Gurdawara on Sunday. Yeah, him. Should we start demanding that white people or white Christians get a “better publicist”? Or what about the Israeli military occupation that brutally oppresses Palestinians. Do Jews need “better publicists”?

      Do you blame Jews for anti-Semitism? Do you blame blacks for anti-black racism? If your answer is no, then stop blaming Muslims for Islamophobia. The people who stereotype, vilify, and demonize Muslims have to unlearn that racism from within themselves instead of generalizing about an entire people.

  32. Hold on! Let me remind you some history.
    At the time of Robin Good (national English hero) the whole Europe, including England, was a third world. Dark ages. Barbarians.
    The second world was China and the countries around.
    The first world was Islamic Khalifat – the centre of monotheism, civilisation, science and technology.
    So, in this context the movie in question is just another Holliwood propaganda BS.
    Study history, dudes.

  33. A friend pointed out, “Isn’t this act [the shooting in Aurora] of violence terrorism in and of itself? Targeting civilians in a ‘safe’ place like a theater or an office–that’s terrorism. So was the Oklahoma City Bombing.” And apparently, Columbine was meant to be a giant bomb rather than a school shooting.

    Thank you for this article. I’m so glad it was freshly pressed!

  34. I know you have a lot a comments today to get through, but I have read your reply and looked at some of the info you have provided and I do not support the spying in the context of the examples you gave. It appears arbitrary and that’s wrong.
    As to your comments about Irish terrorism, Catholic communities in Northern Ireland were subject to far more state spying/infiltration than Muslims have ever been in the US. My point is Muslims aren’t unique. The action that the government has taken is reactive. If agents working for North Korea had killed 3000 people on US soil on a single day, I’m sure there would be as much paranoia about Korean’s as they were about Japanese people in the US during WWII and ‘Commies’ during the Cold War, and Muslim’s would hardly be the focus of any attention.
    As a Muslim I’m sure you feel under siege at the moment, but it’s human nature to fear things you associate with a threat to your life. And no, it isn’t right, but some empathy (in the true sense of the word) with those you oppose could lead to more understanding on your behalf as much as the empathy that you expect others to have for Muslim’s. In the end the people of Northern Ireland worked through their problems and a peace of sorts has been found despite a sectarian hatred as strong as anything in the Middle East. For things to change it is going to mean give and take on both sides. Enjoy the rest of Ramadan.

    • Look at what happened Sunday. Now, ask yourself this: who is coming up to you – in real life – and demanding that you apologize for Wade Michael Page’s terrorism?

      I don’t see your point about “having empathy” with “those I oppose.” I oppose racist Islamophobes who want to wipe Islam off the face of the earth. What is there to be empathetic about? I don’t understand. You speak as if I have some power over those who are oppressing me, or as if I am opposed to every non-Muslim individual on the planet.

      Also, your arguments about Catholic communities in Ireland facing “more” state spying than Muslims is problematic. Who is competing? Those arguments about things being “worse” to another community are often used to derail and delegitimize real problems. Go tell the Muslim family that lost their father in a Islamophobic hate crime about things being “worse” somewhere else – what is “worse” to a family that has lost a loved one to hate?

      I never said Muslims are unique either. This blog constantly emphasizes that liberation for all people is what I’m concerned about. You see posts about Muslims because I speak about my experience, my community, and my research. A Sikh Gurdwara was attacked on Sunday by a man who thought he was shooting and killing Muslims. It’s not the first time it has happened. My question to you is when will you wake up and realize how dangerous Islamophobia and racism is today?

      During the civil rights movement, there were white people who thought things “weren’t so bad” for black people either. Will it take 50 or 60 years for you to realize how bad things are now? And do not mistaken this as a self-pity narrative – our communities are strong and we are persevering. We need allies and we need the solidarity from other communities of color, as well as the solidarity from Indigenous nations to whom this land – Turtle Island – rightfully belongs.

  35. Pingback: “Haq Majoud” by Sanam Marvi and Amanat Ali « Muslim Reverie
  36. I wonder if you read the string of comments in the New York Times in response to numerous articles on the Holmes massacre. In there, you would have found the usual argument over gun laws, the NRA, our politics. Most people discussed the problems with the gun laws, or lack thereof, in the United States, and the need to at the very least, re-establish the laws against citizens owning automatic weapons and the ammunition they require. So that discussion is, in fact, quite active. People are aware of the problems the NRA has created (4% of gun owners belong to the NRA–many support more restrictive laws–think about what that means in terms of political influence and the possibilities of making change).
    I live in Colorado and know exactly where that theatre is. I know the people of the area, the general culture and mindset. We are mourning. Especially, we are mourning the dead, many of whom were white males who fell upon their girlfriends or daughters or friends to shield them and paid with their lives in doing to. Some were men of color. Some were women. Most horrific is the story of the young woman whose 6 year-old was murdered, and who sustained a bullet in the neck that cannot be removed and will paralyze her probably permanently. She also lost a pregnancy due to the trauma of the shooting and the surgeries. Can we imagine this loss? I think we can leave issues of othering and color out of this particular story. All of us can feel the hurt inside reading about her and what she faces when she is strong enough to hear it.
    I hear you about prejudice in this country. It is alive and rampant. I believe, for instance, that when President Obama was elected, it took the lid off of racism in this country. People like Mitch McConnell have vowed to make his presidency one term, while destroying the American economy by blocking every sane and sensible bill to help the populace so that they can blame it on Obama. Sick. But, aren’t we glad that this is coming to the surface so vividly, so that we can really see what we are up against? Rather than undercurrent, it is now overt. Allows response. That’s important.
    I hear you about prejudice against Muslims in this country. There are a *lot* of people who live in fear. Fear-based lives. That’s actually true everywhere, not just in the U.S. Fear likes to attach to something. Finding and defining an “other” gives “reason” to mindless fear. The mindless fear simply arises without reason, but seeks to attach to something. Self-examine on this one. I’m serious about that.
    Here, othering takes specific forms: hatred against black people, Latino people, Asian people, Native American people, women. Get the picture? Remember what happened to the Japanese Americans in World War II? You can visit those places today in Wyoming, for one.
    It is wrong to cultivate hate against people by virtue of their color, ethnicity, religion, sex, etc. We know that. Today, there is othering of and fear of Islamic people due to 9/11. Certain extremist groups have made open, horrific threats. We need to take those threats seriously. Those extremists threaten all Americans and all on American shores, regardless of color, ethnicity, or religion. We need to unite against such threats in many ways, including protection of ourselves, but also including research to understand what’s behind them. Many believe that sending aid in the form of education and support to impoverished countries goes a lot farther than military action in solving problems. Anybody interested in becoming a social entrepreneur? Take education and economic support to places where the men, especialliy, feel disempowered?
    James Holmes is a pathetic mess of a person, who for whatever reason, adopted a comic book character to justify murderous madness against innocents. We can logic it any way we want (arguments against guns, arguments against lack of support for mentally ill, arguments against men, arguments against whites, arguments of every and any kind). Labeling James Holmes as mentally ill is not a political act. We could, and probably should, look into the health of suicide bombers, for example. What motivates people to give up their lives to kill masses of people? Sometimes it’s politics. Sometimes it’s religion (usually mixed with politics). Sometimes it’s poverty. Sometimes it’s lack of self esteem. Sometimes it’s madness. Sometimes, it’s all of the above. A both-and rather than an either-or.
    What I hear in your post is the cry against the hatred and prejudice against Islamic people in our modern world. The othering of Islamic people in America. Frankly, you are right on this point, and it stinks in the same way othering in America of Jewish people, black people, Native American people, Asian people, women, disabled people, and gay/lesbian people stinks. It comes out of fear and ignorance. It harms and destroys. It stinks. Your cry is appropriate, but perhaps a bit of a non-sequitor to the James Holmes story.
    The question is, how do we define terrorism? I have always thought of terrorism as connected to deliberate political acts of murder and mayhem, outside the bounds of conventional war. Like guerilla warfare (which, btw, was a shock to the American system in the 1960s), it doesn’t follow rules. It is unpredictable. The better to scare you, sweetheart!
    Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist. His actions were politically inspired. He also was nuts. Don’t you define murderous planning and action as crazy? I do. Even in war, for the most part. But he was a terrorist, performing acts of terror on U.S. soil. Others exist, like the unibomber. Osama bin Laden was a terrorist. No one could negotiate with him. He did not represent a government or country. He represented a set of concepts. We have many such people in history. How about Hannibal? How about the Crusades? The Inquisition?
    I would like to see you write another post about the problems of prejudice against Muslims in this country, leaving out James Holmes. Educate us. Discuss. Keep to the point. There is value and reason here. Stronger if you avoid bringing in things like Holmes, who really doesn’t have to do with this issue. How about the poem by Hafiz, where he suggests we take the guns far away to a distant field? Please, post again. Let’s get right down into this issue in the most real and penetrating of ways.

  37. Each and every word you have written are true.You are right about how muslims have been stereotyped and treated over the years which definitely is not fair but still is so prevalent.
    Thank you for this article and i hope it helps in some way to change people’s unfair opinions in such matters.

  38. I agree and it is very similar here in the U.K. In the 80’s and 90’s when we were being bombed by the IRA there was not the same hostility to Irish, maybe because they look the same as “us”.

    Maybe it is just the risk adverse culture we live in now. To be honest I’m more worried about being stabbed by some drunk nutter on the tube than being blown up by Islamic terrorists and I’m not particularly worried about that nutter.

    What has happened to make us go from a country that got bombed to hell and back in WW2 where people just got on with their lives, to the 80’s and 90’s of IRA hit-squads and bombs regularly going off even in the heart of London and we kept on as usual…. more than a few times by trip to Uni where shattered by bombs. Yet now everyone is supposedly scared stiff off a type of terrorism of which there has been very few examples of in the U.K. or U.S.A. and for that we should be happy to overlook the subjugation of all our liberties.

    If we get shot or blown up then we get blown up, it’s just another calculated risk of living in a city or a developed state like getting hit by a truck. It’s obviously awful for everyone immediately concerned but for society and civilisation as a whole, life goes on.

    ‘B’ I agree about Abou Fatma, what an inspiring character in an inspiring film. Talking of films the media preoccupation of stereotyping people extends to us English in Hollywood. We are the most famous and common villains in movie history just because certain people think that if we speak correctly we must be evil. We even get cast as Germans in films and have English stories where we are bit-players and the hero is American. After the recent Merryl Streep film on Thatcher surely it is only a matter of time that we have a film of Churchill as an American and the entire Nazi High Command as English… not British as only English in particular can be truly evil :-)

  39. A brilliant post. Loved it. What you have discussed here is so true and relevant in the present scenario. Very rightly expressed thoughts. And congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, Deserved it, without a doubt.

  40. I agree with your sentiments in general. There exists nothing called “Muslim” or “Christian” terrorism – all violent acts against humanity are just plain terrorism. The fact that those who commit these atrocities belong to a religion does not make the religion a culprit – even though I do not believe in any religion. If that were the case, Hitler and last year’s Norway shooter should have been branded as Christian terrorists.

  41. Azeem from Robin Hood? Interesting choice.

    This post reminds me of a discussion I had on (of all places) YouTube, when a self proclaimed Goth and a guy (claiming to be) from Israel accused me of being a brainwashed little girl, of bigotry, ignorance and narrow mindedness. The first one had a set of arguments that he presented, and enough time and patience to hear out my side of the story (on several issues). The other continued to brush aside every argument I provided, and when I finally left that specific comment thread, went as far as to go to my YouTube page and send me lengthy, abusive PMs about everything ranging from the state of the Pakistan Army to Israel’s plans for the eventual downfall of the world. He kept this up for a month until I cracked and responded to every single one of his completely idiotic (not to mention misspelled) accusations with references from history books and newspaper articles, as well as a threat to send a thousand viruses his way if he didn’t leave me alone.

    The first guy conceded to my PoV on the issues and we parted on friendly terms.
    The second one disappeared.

    My point? That ignorance shows itself in several ugly ways, and unless people continue to educate themselves, we had best be prepared to deal with a second blow of a whole lot of stupid.

    A well written piece, pointing out some obvious flaws in today’s system that rarely if ever see the light of day.

  42. lots of good points by the way terrorists is just a scarier word then criminal which has a stronger conatation then outlaw.. and your right most people who have true mental illness, which is fairly rare in it self, do not harm others. 9/11 happend for sure, but the blame could of been put on anyone they wanted, they could of blamed Jehovah’s witnesses (even tho it would be hard to make it stick considering the reputation we have) and some people would believe it without questions because the gov/news said so. many people are sheeple for sure.
    rose

  43. I agree with your point, brother. I think people stop judging terrorism as an action of the whole community instead of some outlaws. And just so you know, I’m a fan of Morgan Freeman. :) Assalamu’alaikum from Indonesia.

  44. Your point is well taken. However, when I saw that young woman who had her nose cut off her face featured on Time Magazine some years back , there is nothing that can convince who the real barbarians are.

    • Oh, so in other words, you are saying, “Nice post, but your people are the real barbarians”? I addressed how problematic and offensive that argument is in the post (feel free to read it again).

      Also, what about sexual violence and rape in the United States? What about the American soldier who raped a 14 year-old Iraqi girl before killing her and her family? Is that not barbaric to you? Read:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1340207/I-didnt-think-Iraqis-humans-says-U-S-soldier-raped-14-year-old-girl-killing-her-family.html#ixzz1zh2RuCiS

      What about the US soldier who went on a killing spree in Afghanistan and killed innocent civilians? 9 women, 3 children, and 4 men were killed. Is that not barbaric? Watch:

      What about the 12 US soldiers who killed Afghans “for sport” and collected their fingers as “prizes”? Is that not barbaric?

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/09/us-soldiers-afghan-civilians-fingers

      And what about the US male soldiers who rape US female soldiers? Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women soldiers are sexually assaulted in the military. How is that not barbaric? Watch:

      Lastly, that photo of the Afghan woman with her nose cut off was taken AFTER the US invasion, so what does that tell you about the war over there? How “effective” was the US war when crimes against women have increased, instead of decreased? If you truly care about Afghan women, you should support the efforts from RAWA, an Afghan women’s rights group *inside* Afghanistan, that not only fights against corrupt and misogynist warlords, but also against the violent imperialism and occupation of the US military. Watch this clip about the exploitation of Afghan women and how their struggles are used as propaganda to justify war:

      That is all.

  45. You have a good point, Jehanzeb, that there are vile acts committed by non-muslims, just as there are vile acts perpetrated by muslims. Humans are prone to acts of violence whoever they claim is their God (or deny, for athiests). If you are going to call the media, government, people of America, Australia, England (pick a country), barbaric, just generalize it like this: Everyone is barbaric in the eyes of God. Say it if you believe it.
    We all have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Say it if you believe it.
    We all are in need of His mercy. Say it.
    This is what Psalms 14:1-3 says, “…There is none who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. 3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.”

    We are helpless before a sinless and pure God. We need salvation, and God provides that through Jesus.
    Jesus, (the prophet, king, and priest) said of himself in Luke 24, “46…”Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations..”

    To talk in such a way about a mentality in America shows that you are thinking this all the wrong way around. Your arguments are clear; you think Muslims have the higher moral ground compared to non-muslims (infidels). Well, when it comes to moral ground, God trumps any of man’s morals, as He made us. Start with that, and we can get somewhere.

    • Whoa, wait. Where did I ever say that I think “Muslims have the higher moral ground compared to non-muslims (infidels)”? I never called non-Muslims “infidels” ONCE on this blog and I do not believe that. If you had a nuanced understanding of what Islam teaches about showing compassion, respect, and kindness to all communities, whether they are Muslim or not, you wouldn’t have made that comment. You are putting words in my mouth and projecting your own stereotypes unto me. Allow me to share what the Qur’an teaches about Jews, Christians, and others:

      “Truly, those who have come to believe, and those who belong to the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabeians – all who believe in God and the Last Day and do what is right – shall have their reward with their God, and they need not fear and they will not grieve.” (Qur’an 2:62.)

      The Prophet’s own cousin, Imam Ali, who is highly revered in Islam (peace be upon them both) once said, “A person is either your brother/sister in faith, or your equal in humanity.”

      The Qur’an also teaches us about diversity and how important it is for all communities to know one another. This is a very famous verse that is shared over and over again by Muslims:

      “Truly, we have created you from male and female and fashioned you into peoples and tribes so that you can come to know one another.” (Qur’an 49:13)

      And this one:

      “And among His wonders is this: He creates for you spouses from yourselves so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!” (30:21)

      Peace!

      • Admin note: Your anti-Islamic comment was deleted because it does not meet the guidelines of this blog’s comment policy. Attacks against Islam, condescension, and deliberately taking verses out of context is not welcome here. This is safe space where all religions and peoples are respected. Peace!

      • Dear sir, I am a seeker of the truth, rather than what I would prefer to be true (and that is a struggle). I’m sorry my comment was unhelpful and needed deleting. It was late at night and I wanted to rebut your comments. Obviously, point form arguments do not make for deep and thoughtful conversations.
        I agree with you, there are verses that you quoted from the Qur’an that are about peace. My question is this: Would you say that the Qur’an and the teachings of Muhammad have only words of peace when it comes to furthering Islam?
        My point is, are we ever going to reach peace by our own hands, or does God need to be involved?
        I do care for you, otherwise I would have kept my comments to myself. I am sure we would be good friends if we met.
        You reminded someone else here that it is the month of Rabadan (I knew that but had forgotten), so I apologize for offending you in your special month of fasting. Me and my family have been praying during this time specifically for Muslim countries, so don’t think I hate you. I do agree we should have an open space here to express ideas and discuss objections. If I failed in that, I’m sorry.
        I hope to continue discussion on what peace is and what it can look like, and who it comes from. God bless you.

      • pedrozki,

        I appreciate your apology and the respect you’ve shown in your comment. I created this blog for the purpose of breaking stereotypes about Muslims and Islam, and to establish stronger alliances across all communities. Almost on a daily basis, I get Islamophobic and racist comments. The other day, someone left a death threat on my blog, saying that all Muslims in the west should be “executed.” I have learned how to pick my battles, i.e. I will not engage in conversation with people who have an agenda to come on this blog to preach hatred or to be condescending towards me and my faith. I have found that progress is made when there are honest and genuine conversations. I have found that progress is made when we speak with people who are receptive to what I’m sharing, instead of with people who are close-minded and will never change their opinion, no matter what.

        Having said that, if someone is strictly bent on thinking that my faith – my way of life – is “evil” or “violent” or “inferior” to their faith, then there is no point having a conversation. If someone thinks I’m “brainwashed” by Islam or that I believe in a “violent religion,” there is no dialogue because no matter what I say, that is all they will continue to think. I wrote letters when I was 18 years-old to Islamophobic websites, encouraging them that Islam teaches Love and peace, and that Islamophobia was hurtful and wrong. It disturbed me that my initiative for trying to establish peaceful relations with them backfired and resulted in a ton of nasty and hateful comments that were sent my way.

        I would like to stress that you do not treat this blog as a “Ask the Muslim!” type of blog. I am one Muslim, I believe in ALL of the Qur’an, and I am not a spokesperson for my entire religion/community. This is something that needs to be dismantled, i.e. the perception that one Muslim speaks for the entire community and religion. We do not treat every Christian as a representative of all Christians. Just like all communities are incredibly diverse, so are we.

        This was never meant to be a blog about theology either. If you wish to learn more about Islam, the religion, please read “The Muslim Next Door.” It is a book that I have bought for MANY of my non-Muslim friends, teachers, and classmates (in fact, I have lost count of how many copies I bought). The link to the book is included in the blog post. The Qur’an’s message, in its entirety, is peace, and in order to fully understand its message, you need to read it fully (not cherry pick verses), understand its historical context, and understand its diverse traditions.

        Thank you for your prayers and I hope you understand. It will be difficult for me to keep up with responses on this blog in the coming week due to Ramadan, but hopefully this message helped clear up any misunderstandings. Take care.

  46. Thank you for posting that article regarding the girl whose nose was cut off. In America there are atrocities and the government and people try to prosecute the perpetrators. What I am stating is- a society that treats its woman poorly is doomed. Barbaric is not letting woman receive an equal education otherwise they end up slaves in some rich man’s house. Woman made to marry at 12 is barbaric. By the way men have been raping woman since the beginning of time. Rape is an act of violence. So the real issue is not pointing a finger at who is more barbaric but why is this happening in 2012??? When all women are not treated with respect the society is doomed. There was a movie about a woman whose husband wanted a new wife so he made up a lie and had her stoned to death- that is barbaric. In America he would divorce her or kill her (crime of passion maybe) but he would not enjoin the whole town of Men to stone her that is barbaric.

    • First off, you just dodged my entire response to you. It speaks volumes that you conveniently ignore my response and all the links I provided for you.

      Second, you are backpedaling. I never said this was about which society is “more barbaric.” You were the one who suggested, in your initial comment, that Muslim societies were. Now you are saying that this isn’t the point?

      Third, are you really saying that the United States government isn’t complicit in sexist oppression? For starters, read “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide” by Andrea Smith. It has a lot of disturbing facts and accounts about what happens to women, particularly indigenous women and women of color, in the United States and at the hands of the state. Don’t take my word for it – do your research and educate yourself.

      Lastly, do you believe everything you see in movies? Because one of the major focuses on this blog is critiquing media representations of Muslims and how those stereotypical images are projected unto real Muslims. What you are doing is taking a stereotype and now directing them at me, a real Muslim (not a “reel Muslim,” i.e. the ones you see in movies/TV).

      Your denial of sexist oppression from the US justice system is a textbook example of what bell hooks says in this quote:

      “In our actual lives, the imperialist white-supremacist policies of our government lead to enactments of rituals of white-male violent domination of a darker universe, as in both the Gulf war and the most recent war against Iraq. By making it appear that the threatening masculinity – the rapist, the terrorist, the murderer – is really a dark other, white male patriarchs are able to deflect attention away from their own misogyny, from their violence against women and children.”

      Your comment is also an example of how people who obsess over misogyny in Muslim-majority societies need to confront their *own* sexism first before they start pointing figures and perpetuating narratives that it’s “worse somewhere else.” If you are truly, genuinely supportive of Muslim women and want to express solidarity with them, then why have you ignored all the links I posted and didn’t respond to anything I wrote? Do you consider yourself an ally of Muslim feminist groups – groups that not only fight sexism within Muslim communities, but also against Islamophobia and racism? Go to “The Feminist Wire’s” blog right now because they are doing a Ramadan series that features Muslim feminists and allies speaking for themselves.

      Oh, and one more thing, your multicultural awareness could use improvement. It is the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, so it’s quite disrespectful for you to comment on this blog – a Muslim person’s blog – and call his religion/culture “barbaric.” It is also insulting that you cite a movie and assert your point about Muslims being more “barbaric.” LOL, have you read anything in this post at all? Because, um, that’s precisely the point about this blog entry – it’s to counter the stereotypes of barbarism that is so often assigned to Muslims. Do you really not feel ashamed for generalizing about an ENTIRE group of people (and doing this on a person’s holiday)?

      I do not wish to engage in cyclical debates, so if you have nothing new to add or you don’t demonstrate that you are here to genuinely learn about how you need to unlearn stereotypes, then please don’t bother wasting time and energy. Thanks!

      Peace!

  47. After all the discussion you have inspired, I must say thank you. Keep posting. Keep this discussion going. Today, I read about a boy in Mississippi who supposedly shot himself while handcuffed in a squad car, supposedly committing suicide with a .38 that two searches of him did not reveal, shooting himself, supposedly, in the right temple, while left-handed. The question is: when will we stop the hatred? I have read a lot of history. Fear of Islam is an old, old fear among Europeans, due to the history. But hey, I’m quite sure fear of Europeans is an old, old fear among Islamic people of the Middle East due to the Crusades, which were phenomenally bloody and brutal, and basically about stealing people’s land and resources. We just don’t get to read about that over here because history is the story of the victors, is it not?
    We have a new world at hand, my friend. It includes the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, and all these thousands–nay, millions–of people who wish to have a peaceable Earth. Why shouldn’t we prevail? Let’s prevail. Keep writing. Write another post, please! Keep the discussion alive. We will gather together in the name of humanity and loving kindness to set aside the hatemongers and build our new world. The world is a circle. We are almost there in this discovery.

  48. Yes I see it really bums you out that white people get away with murder and Muslims get labeled barbaric. Evidently you never lived in the southern states, experienced Jim Crow or other racism in America. People knew immediately( those who live outside of Colorado) that James Holmes was not Black cause there was no picture posted promptly. In the real world when it is a minority they post a pic immediately to further the stereotype. Clarifying– Crimes against women is Barbaric – The movie about the woman being stoned is based on a true story unlike Robin Hood. There was a time in the Arab Muslim world when the Islamists lead the world in culture (Alhambra in Spain), Science and Math.
    Blame the stereotyping on the Media– all you did was tender proof that it is happening. There was a row of houses in America( New Jersey) that they(gov’t) blew up because some Blacks were living there. So what minority in America doesn’t know who the real terror is? Do not be naive about what White Americans know!

    • LOL, it doesn’t “bum” me out, and it’s not really a matter of that. It’s a matter of how racist double standards have a harmful impact on people.

      I have concluded that I have wasted a lot of time trying to make my points clear to you (and it shows in the way you ignored my really LONG reply). I will close with saying that your accusing me of thinking that “white Americans” are “naive” is ridiculous. There are tons of anti-racist white allies who do amazing work and if you explore this blog, you will see their work cited.

      Again, you are making assumptions about me based on misunderstandings. I am glad to hear that you recognize how racial minorities are and have been oppressed, but don’t try to make this about me being “naive” about white people know. When we critique white supremacy, we are not targeting individual white people. It’s about challenging the *system.* A lot of people have a misunderstanding about this and I hope this article helps you understand:

      http://soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=482

      That is all I have to say.

  49. What bugs me about this article, is that I know there are people who won’t read it, just because you are Muslim. There are people who will read it, just so they can argue with you about your own beliefs that they don’t know or understand.

    It’s such a good, well written and thought provoking post. It deserves it’s audience.

    It’s just unfortunate people will stereotype against anything. Everyone wants to feel like they are part of an elite special group that is better than the majority of human beings. Everyone seems to be too busy trying to judge one another and look down on each other and label each other.

    Being Muslim is just one aspect of who you are. It does not make up the whole person. It shouldn’t define you as an individual person because every Muslim is different there’s a lot a good ones, and a few bad ones.

    As humans, there’s a lot of good ones, and a few bad ones. Why are we always trying to label people by what the bad one’s do?

  50. Admin Note: Your comments were deleted because they did not fit the guidelines of the comment policy. Your comment was ridiculous because it spoke about “shaving habits” (like, seriously?) and was way off topic. Also, your e-mail address has the word “spam” in it, which is why it gets filtered out. And honestly, shame on you for accusing me of being hypocritical. A Sikh Gurdwara got attacked on Sunday due to Islamophobia and you still don’t see how important it is to speak out against racism and hate crimes? When are people like you going to wake up and realize how dangerous racism is?

  51. Pingback: The Violence of White Supremacy « Muslim Reverie
  52. Thank you for voicing this point of view. No group of people should be prejudiced just because they share a religion, ethnicity, political view, etc — with an individual who committed a hateful crime.

  53. That was the first HEALTHY and EDUCATED discussion about such a sensitive topic that I have EVER seen.. =) without any swearing and stuff.. and such LOGICAL comments based on some proofs =) very well written article.. Weldone :)

  54. Pingback: Link Love (14/08/2012) « Becky's Kaleidoscope
  55. Admin Note: Ok, see. No. You do not get to leave condescending messages on my blog like “spare me the flying carpet fallacy line of discussion” or “your mileage may vary” and then expect to have your thoughts and comments welcomed here in a respectful manner. Who do you think you are? Who do you think are to say the spying and infiltration of Muslim communities isn’t racism? And the fact that you would write these things on an Islamic holiday is just plain disrespectful and rude. As I have written in another comment already, if you really got to know Muslims, you would understand how the NYPD-CIA spying operations have deeply affected the Muslim community. If you want to make this about “nuance” and a long view of history, then do the research yourself on how communities of color in the United States have constantly been spied upon and infiltrated with informants. Learn about how racism and sexual violence are interconnected with regard to the work informants do. Go and talk to activists who have outed people in their groups as spies – learn about how outing someone as a spy and being wrong forever taints that individual. Learn about how the state has a long, violent history of racism and sexual violence before you say I’m being “disingenuous” about spy programs being racist and xenophobic.

    This is about you not understanding the discourse, not understanding communities of color, not understanding how these discriminatory practices have a REAL impact on their communities, etc.

    I don’t have time to play around with semantics either – terrorism is terrorism, and what James Holmes did was terrorism. That whole “political motive” nonsense is just an attempt to derail focus away from white privilege, white supremacy, and racism in this country. You know full well that white people will never be profiled in the same way people of color are, so spare me the “political agendas are characteristics of terrorism” line of discussion.

    p.s. Eid Mubarak! :D

  56. Thank you for this thought provoking post. It is clear that we humans are the real barbarians – all humans…we are not too far removed from the animals we are related to after all. We have a small very ancient part of our brain that controls us in ways we still do not understand – very animal like. We distrust “others” in an ancient survival mode. It is the “different” that our small animal brains still distrust.

    We need to understand this once and for all so we can rise above it.

    I see all organized religions, especially the patriarchal ones -the big three – as a mode to vilify the “other” and the “different”. I wish we had no religions. Christianity is very barbaric in it’s past and present – I mean people are still enduring Exorcisms, for goodness sake – and some kids are killed in the process…

    Also, I want to point out that James Holmes has a very serious form of mental illness – schizophrenia. You quite dismissed this – in order to prove your point. But even though I actually agree with your points – the fact is that James Holmes did what he did because he was acting out his delusions. Mental illness knows no boundaries – religion, race, or sex. Schizophrenia is one of the most heinous of all because it robs a person of their grasp of reality – and it is a cognitive brain disorder – it attacks areas of the brain that control reasoning, communication, and memory. Also, half of all people with schizophrenia have another brain disorder called Anosognosia, which robs the person of their ability to grasp they are sick. My brother lived with schizophrenia for 32 years and not once did he understand he was sick – and even though he was in treatment all of this time -he never once regained a connection to the real world in a way where he could live a productive life. The fact is that some people with serious mental illness are indeed violent, and they have no clue they are in need of treatment.

    Most people in the mental health advocacy world do not want to admit this. It is not MOST people, but SOME people with serious mental illness are dangerous, especially if they do not receive proper treatment – and even if they do – some can become violent. The mental health advocacy groups do not want to admit that because they fear that everyone with a mental illness will be locked up if they do. Unfortunately, they have previous bad experiences with this and so their fears are warranted, to a certain point. However, they are doing a disservice to the few who really do need to be locked up – or closely monitored somehow – and they do a disservice to their families and to the communities in which they live because they are ignoring a very real and unfortunate aspect of how some brain disorders manifest themselves. Just like some old people with Alzheimer’s act out and will become violent at times – so too do some people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. That is a fact. So, the claim that most people with mental illness are not violent is true – but some people are – and James Holmes and Jared Loughner are dangerous – and so was my brother at times. The reason they brought up the fact that most are not violent was to prevent a backlash against all people with mental illness. You can understand that, can’t you?

    Don’t you think that is similar to what you are trying to do? Most Muslims are not violent – but some are. It is the same for people with mental illness. Most are not violent – but some are. So this is really about humanity. Most of us are not violent – but some are.

    And I feel that all of the patriarchal religions are steeped in violence in their history. I find Christianity as a whole more “barbaric” than Islam – but I also see violence as part of all three main religions of the god of “Abraham”.

    I would look toward organized religion as a whole – as a source of violence -and “barbarism”, if you will – the patriarchal ones, anyway, are based on Bronze Age thinking – especially about women.

    We are all not barbarians – but some of us act as if we were. I see it in all races, creeds and sexes. Please learn more about mental illness. James Holmes and Jared Loughner and others who have killed based on delusional thinking – are not barbarians either – they are just sick – very sick.

    • I see all organized religions, especially the patriarchal ones -the big three – as a mode to vilify the “other” and the “different”. I wish we had no religions.

      Religion is important to a lot of people, so I don’t advocate or defend anti-religion attitudes. It’s fine if you don’t practice or follow a religion – everyone should have the right to choose – but making anti-religion statements, especially about religions that are so commonly racialized, is very condescending and offensive. I recognize many organized religious practices and interpretations are patriarchal, and I have been quite outspoken about patriarchy that manifests in my community. However, I think it’s also important for you to recognize that there are a lot of Muslim women, and other women of faith, who are actively challenging patriarchy and misogyny in their communities. I find it really problematic when people want to arrogantly dismiss religion altogether, but fail to recognize that religion is very important, even central, to a person’s identity and being. In other words, being Muslim and anti-patriarchal are not incompatible. Just because you don’t follow or practice a religion doesn’t mean you can’t respect people who embrace their faith.

      Your arguments about mental illness are missing the point about racialization here. No one ever talks about mental illness if the perpetrator is Muslim, black, or brown. If the shooter in Newtown was a person of color, the conversation would not be about gun control. If James Holmes was not white, the conversation would not be about mental illness. If these people were Muslim, the conversation would be about “terrorism,” “sleeper cells,” and “Al Qaida.” It would be about Muslims trying to takeover the (white) nation. The entire Muslim community comes under scrutiny and gets stigmatized for it. But when a white person does it, we don’t start profiling white people nor do we ask every white person to “explain” why James Holmes did what he did (I’ve lost count of how many times people have asked me to explain Osama bin Laden’s actions; how many times has anyone asked you why James Holmes opened fire in a movie theater?). That’s what is being highlighted here.

      The point about MOST people with mental illness not acting violently is to shatter stereotypes about people diagnosed with mental illnesses, as well as the narrative that declares white terrorists are “crazy,” while Muslim terrorists are innately “angry and violent.” People with mental illnesses are criminalized and stigmatized too, so it’s important to bring up those facts about the majority not being violent. This post wasn’t about calling people barbarians; it was about exposing a serious and dangerous racist double standard that exists in our society.

      I suggest looking through an anti-racist lens to gain a better understanding of my post. Also, please review my comment policy and guidelines. I’m not sure why you felt the need to bring religion and patriarchy into this, but this is not the space to voice anti-Islam comments (and stating that “all religions are patriarchal” doesn’t mean you have a free pass to generalize about Islam either). The argument that religions are the source of all violence has been discredited by a lot of brilliant writers, academics, and historians. I would suggest reading “Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Conflict and Cooperation” by Zachary Karabell. Religion is not the sole cause of violence, patriarchy, and wars in the world – it certainly plays a role in oppressive governments and movements, but there are also other factors – societal and political – that fuel violence, patriarchy, and wars.

  57. Admin Note: Your comment was deleted because it did not meet the comment policy guidelines. Stating that the shooting in Aurora was not an act of terrorism is not up for debate here. This an attempt to derail and shift focus away from the original point of this post. Please reflect on how Muslims, including myself, and others who are perceived to be Muslim are called “terrorists” simply based upon their looks and religious affiliation. Therefore, there are strong implications when you say I have made a “poorly designed argument” about the term “terrorism” and cannot refer to James Holmes as a “terrorist.” There are also strong implications when you state that I am being “illogical” – a common accusation made against people of color whenever we speak out against racism. Terrorism happens when people are terrorized. The Aurora shooting, just like the shootings in Oak Tree and Newtown, was an act of terrorism. Period.

    Also, I do not see any accountability on your part about the anti-religion generalizations you made in your previous comment, particularly about Islam. I do not see any purpose in engaging in conversations when people don’t hold themselves accountable for the hurtful and oppressive things they say, whether deliberate or intentional. I would argue that stating “I wish we had no religions” is actually a violent phrase because it fails to acknowledge how religious identity is sometimes tied to one’s sense of self and being. I see my humanity and my faith in Islam as being interconnected, so wishing that “all religions would go away” would mean non-existence for me.

    I am not interested in derailments or cyclical debates.

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