Would you critique a book without having read it? Certainly people attempt to do so when something is controversial, but they’re not very successful. They just come off as obstinate and misinformed.
So would you critique a film you’ve not watched? Once again, people do attempt to do this, too. They also, again, come off as obstinate and misinformed.
Would you critique a group of people you haven’t learned anything about? People do this all the time. They don’t appear obstinate or misinformed. In many cases, they appear to be reasonable and patriotic people. Their chagrin at another culture somehow translates to good morals.
How is that even okay?
If we wouldn’t judge books by their covers or films by their wanting trailers—then how do we get off judging individuals based on a few previews of those we assume are their people?
Since before 9/11, the people of the USA have regarded Middle Eastern people as troublesome and since 9/11 they now regard them as the number 1 threat to our nation’s stability. Prior to the attack in New York (Pennsylvania and Washington DC), your basic xenophobia held Middle Easterners and Muslims (for they are not all Muslim) as exotic others. Mostly we didn’t have a problem with them as neighbors, but we didn’t go out of our way to make them welcome or ensure they had equal opportunities. Some pass for white, and they blended easily, while others with darker skin were confused for entirely other groups (such as Sikhs, Mexicans and African American).
In all of this, barely anyone decided to learn a thing about the Middle East and the people, nations and religions that make up that portion of the world. They didn’t bother to ask why people were immigrating from there to the United States. They certainly didn’t explore the similarities between the Qur’an and the Bible or even the Jewish texts from which the Christian Bible is derived.
Did you know that up until the Crusades got hot and heavy, the Islamic community viewed Christians as a sister religion?
Sadly, friends of mine who happen to be Muslim, face an uphill battle for acceptance in a nation that is supposed to be for free people, the brave and a haven from religious persecution. Even sadder, these friends were born here.
That’s right. They were born here.
Not every Muslim, yellow person, brown person or else was born on some foreign shore. The notion of other makes us think that they are strangers to our ways, when, in fact, they’ve been part of us all along. “One of the first documented Muslims in North America was Anthony Janszoon van Salee, a landholder and merchant of mixed Dutch-Moor descent who settled in New Netherlands (modern New York) in the 17th century.” (Wikipedia, Islam in the United States).
When we say things like, Go back to Africa. When we demand that someone give up their way of life to conform to how we live here in the states—we show how ignorant we are of our own history and that is a travesty. We pay a lot of money to fund education (although, as the years roll by, that keeps getting cut in preference for war funds). Our children are learning nursery rhyme history that is better left in the 1950s from which it stems, the decade that brought us anti-Russian consensus and the fear of gay people as communists.
As one white person to another, I want to ask you: Did your grandparents (or great grandparents) give up their way of life to fit into the American culture? Hell to the no, they did not. That’s how we got Little Italy, and Dutch names all over New York. Saying so makes you look like a fool, and repeating the words of those who want to keep you uninformed help them to succeed with others by creating a narrative on repeat they don’t have to maintain themselves. We do the work for them.
How many of us actually paid attention in history class (Grade and High School)? I don’t remember many who did. Most regarded education with disdain. I’ve had so many people admit to me they don’t know simple facts, and boy do they get resentful when I point it out. I’ve seen videos by Jimmy Kimmel that show how little regard for history and education people have. This is ludicrous.
Isn’t it time we stop critiquing books, films and people we don’t know? Aren’t we a little tired of being Ignorant Americans?
There once was a time when having an education was looked up to. I remember as a child being told to do well in school. I remember my friends being told the same. So what happened? Why are we devaluing accurate knowledge and upholding a consensus to false narrative about our past?
Is that really comforting?