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The M Word

Stop. Time for a thought check.

Ever since the 2007 presidential campaign, I’ve noticed that “Muslim” has become an increasingly bad word all over this country. Somewhere along the way, the object of ire changed from “Islamic fundamentalists” and “Arab terrorists” to straight out “Muslims.” This switcheroo has not occurred just in the vernacular of the usual unthinking dumbasses you would expect to say such things, but also in the online and real-life conversations of otherwise rational people. Even some scientists and atheists these days seem to take Muslims as well as fundamentalist Muslims to task quicker than fundamentalists of other religions, when all fundamentalism is essentially the same.

This has two very dangerous repercussions:

1) American Muslims, just like there are American Christians, American Hindus, American Buddhists, etc. Anyone ever think about this large chunk of the voting populace? A lot of them are educated, moneyed, business owners and law-abiding, productive people. Above all, they are Americans. Just like you and me, no more, no less. What does denigrating their religious identity accomplish other than alienation and putting them in harm’s way?

Furthermore, we have partnered with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, other Arab countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan in this War On Terror. Walking arm in arm with Prince Abdullah and enlisting the support of Nouri al-Maliki and Hamid Karzai while “taking democracy to the poor Muslims of Iraq and Afghanistan” and then turning around to vilify Muslims wholesale is a special kind of cognitive dissonance. Forget American exceptionalism and stewardship, upholding religious freedom and all those nice things our kids are blown up for, and ask this: How does it help our allies and our enemies take us seriously?

2) The more crucial, insidious reason to consciously avoid this kind of speech: Verbalizing “Muslims” as the enemy immediately places our domestic and foreign policy discussions in a religious context. Once there is a worse religion, there is automatically a better religion. Equate America and this better religion and you are well on the way to establishment, hastened only by the lazy, latent acceptance of those not particularly religious in any direction. I cannot stress and warn against this enough.

If Muslim fundamentalists hate us for our freedom, let’s give them real freedom of thought and practice to hate, and not some medieval god-loaded hypocrisy that rolls as Americanism these days. Think.

P.S. I closed comments on this post and this post alone on purpose. It keeps some, especially those who have never before commented here, from jerking their knees. You know where to find me if you really want to talk about it.