I am in total writing mode lately. But, I’ve been through a lot this year. I’ve also been on Reddit a lot, which has become my new addiction. And reading all these articles people post about the goings-on in the world has stirred up the dormant typing tendencies.
I’ve been seeing a lot of xenophobia on my Facebook feed… particularly where it concerns Syrian refugees. I see a lot of fear and paranoia, and stereotyping. I hear a lot of whining about immigrants.
The only thing I really agree with is the need to protect the values and laws that have already been established as a result of multiculturalism. Do I think we go too far to accommodate immigrants? Sometimes. Sometimes I get annoyed with the politically correct blandness that has taken over things like Christmas. Who cares if you accidentally wish someone a merry Christmas who doesn’t celebrate it? I wouldn’t get offended if someone wished me a happy Hannukah or a blessed Eid. And if I went to the Middle East and was greeted with as-salamu alaykum, I wouldn’t respond negatively.
I can understand frustrations over political correctness. I can understand citizens having a problem with their taxes being used to support immigrants and give them all kinds of benefits, when citizens themselves don’t get nearly the same kind of help when they need it. I know firsthand what it feels like to be treated like garbage by the government, when I was one of the people paying taxes from the beginning. I can’t imagine how retirees must feel after working their entire lives and having next to nothing to live on, and watching immigrants be better taken care of. And I certainly understand the government banning Sharia law. I understand people getting upset when Muslim women want to cover their faces in official government ID, or want the right not to go through body scanners at the airport. Those things make sense. These circumstances only represent a fraction of the demographic, though… which people don’t seem to understand.
But I don’t understand the paranoia people feel over being “invaded” by immigrants. A lot of people with this sentiment seem to forget that their family histories are made up of immigrants. Far enough back in our family trees, our ancestors had to have come from somewhere… because North America has only been inhabited by Europeans for about 400 years.
Do you think Americans would be as upset about immigrants if most of them were white and from traditionally white countries? Not likely, because I think they relate them to being the same… same level of social status and values, with similar governments. Based on the comments I hear regularly, I can only assume the xenophobia is a direct result of racism.
For as smart as we are, a lot of us still believe that behaviour and beliefs are genetic or race-specific. I know people who actually believe that black people are inherently deviant and violent. Times that by however many people in the US feel the same, and you’ll realize why that’s so scary. Once upon a time I believed that racism and feminism were dead, because we had equal rights. But then I got older. I paid attention. It’s alive and thriving.
I hear so many damning attitudes toward Muslims… so much hatred because of what less than 1% of the Muslim world does or believes. “We should have just bombed the entire Middle East and wiped them off the planet.” What a terrifying thing to hear. Who’s the extremist now? That attitude lumps in people like my lawyer friend, who converted about five years ago, and her husband’s Lebanese family who seem to be the loveliest people. It includes my friend Hana and her husband Josh, who I think converted for the sake of marriage, and their new son. It includes her entire Somalian family. It includes my friend Raffia and her Pakistani family. It includes all the beautiful Muslim women I worked with at the Bay, whose families came from all over the Middle East and even Croatia. These women were smart, funny, hard-working and friendly. They just happened to be devout, something I wouldn’t understand but can appreciate. Of all the Muslims I’ve ever met, not one has been a bad person. Not one has been scary. I dated a couple guys whose backgrounds were Lebanese and Jordanian, respectively. They didn’t treat me the way people think Arabic men treat women.
So a lot of these fears are totally unfounded… especially with refugees. These people are fleeing in droves because they want a better life. They don’t want to live in a place where explosions are going off all around them, or where they have to worry about their kids being killed on the way home from school… or women being raped, or families being torn apart by murder over a clash of varying degrees of faith. They want freedom. So what if they pray? So what if their hair is covered? Are they really any different from devout Jews? Or Christians?
I’d also like to remind people that it was Muslims who raised over $100,000 to rebuild burned black churches in the South. They had an objective to raise $10,000 and they did it ten times over. A series of terrorist attacks don’t represent the entire community… just like not every Catholic is a child molester. Not every Jew supports Israel’s violence. Not every Palestinian is plotting Israeli’s destruction. We’re helping people. For every thousand people who come in to the country, there may be a couple bad apples. Nothing you can do about that unless something in the screening process comes up. But I mean, violence happens all over the world every day. There are people doing scary things in our own country everyday, who aren’t Muslim and aren’t immigrants. Stop being afraid of things that aren’t scary.