Muslims Are Welcome In This Neighborhood
Regular readers of Irregular Times will notice that, today, there is a new green image on the right hand margin of our page. It’s a picture of a lawn sign, specifically, a yard sign that declares: Muslims Are Welcome In This Neighborhood.
Ben Carson has insisted that Muslims in America be forced to carry government-issued identification cards and submit to Big Brother surveillance. Ted Cruz has declared that people from some countries should have to prove that they’re Christians, not Muslims, before being allowed to visit the United States. Marco Rubio has called for the closure by the federal government of Muslim-owned businesses. Donald Trump has promised that if he is elected President, he will prohibit any Muslim from entering the United States – even American citizens who have merely gone to Canada for a short vacation.
The voices of these Republican politicians are loud, but they’re not representative of what the American people think in general. Carson, Cruz, Rubio and Trump are fringe extremists who are out of touch with the American tradition of constitutional rights, including freedom of religion and equality under the law. What’s more, these Republicans are being just plain rude.
There are some dangerous Muslims in America, but not very many. There are dangerous Christians, and dangerous Jews, dangerous Hindus and dangerous Buddhists, too. Within any group, there are some people who are bad news, but they’re usually a minority.
It’s important for the sane majority of the American people, the people who don’t want to see their country rush off into yet another bloody, expensive, and unnecessary war, to stand up and make themselves visible. It’s time that we counter the voices of paranoia with voices of compassion and reason.
There is no significant threat of Islamic terrorism in the United States. Muslim terrorist attacks are actually extremely rare in our country, and they aren’t on the increase.
There have been zero terrorist attacks in the USA committed by Muslim refugees from Syria. Those who claim that there have been are either dishonest or deluded.
So, I’m putting out a sign in my yard that declares simply that Muslims are welcome in my neighborhood. I’m putting out this sign as a counter to the lies of unscrupulous Republican politicians who are eager to gain personal power for themselves by exploiting people’s bigotry against American Muslims, a cultural minority that’s easy to target because it’s less than 1 percent of the population.
I say that Muslims are welcome in my neighborhood even though I have no desire to convert to Islam. I am an atheist. I don’t trust religion. I wouldn’t advise any friends or family to become Muslims. I don’t like the ideology of Islam, either as it is expressed abstractly or as it is conducted in practice.
The thing is, I wouldn’t choose to make many of the same choices my neighbors make. I hold different opinions about religion, politics, art, food, lawn mowing, and pets from most of the people I meet. That doesn’t mean I want to use the power of government to persecute the neighbors I disagree with.
The United States of America is a multicultural nation. A few of especially obnoxious American subcultures insist upon the irrational belief that their own subcultural agenda is The Real America and deserves special government protection and promotion above all others. The rest of us know that they’re wrong. We look at the Constitution and see a document that established a government that doesn’t discriminate, a nation where minorities have the same rights as majorities. We have a country where the punishment of entire populations for the crimes of a few isn’t practiced. Our system operates under the assumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.
Rules aside, the wise among us know that cultural diversity makes life better for us all. I’d rather live in a neighborhood where I can find all sorts of people, rather than a place where everybody is just like me. So, yes, Muslims, I welcome you to come live in my neighborhood. Right wing conspiracy theorists are welcome too, just so long as they agree to respect everyone else’s rights. We’ll judge you by your deeds, not by your creeds.