When can ‘mainstream’ Muslims quit apologizing for the horrific acts of others? – Jacquielynn Floyd/Dallas Morning News
Last Friday night, a drunk walked into a 7-Eleven store in Troy, Mich., shouted anti-Muslim racial slurs at the clerk and punched the manager in the face.
Where is the outrage?
In March, after a busload of foolish fraternity boys made national headlines for singing a racist chant, were white people obligated to take coffee cakes over to their black neighbors and apologize? When a bizarre fundamentalist church says the Bible makes it OK for husbands to spank their wives, should mainstream Christians issue news releases to disagree?
Probably not. Most of us take it for granted that somebody else’s bad behavior does not mean we are violent, racist or just plain crazy.
Yet there seems to be a kind of compulsory loyalty test for Muslim Americans from which the rest of us are excused.
It goes like this: Angry, disaffected oddball undergoes voluntary brainwashing by manipulative Internet campaign. Commits or attempts splashy atrocity, as did the hapless wannabe terrorists who targeted the provocative “draw the prophet” event in Garland.
“What happened in Garland is what we all feared would happen and never wanted to have happen,” wrote Muslim American journalist Dilshad Ali on her blog, “Muslimah Next Door.”
Like Ali, horrified “mainstream” Muslims everywhere — imams, cultural groups, the orthodontist who fixed your kid’s teeth, the lady with all the bird feeders down the block — raced to reassure non-Muslims that they condemn violent ideology.
That’s not us! We aren’t trying to ban bacon or stop women from driving cars or impose Shariah law on the PTA! We don’t want to kill anybody!
Well, of course they don’t. Yet, inevitably, the howl goes up: “Where are the mainstream Muslims? Why don’t they denounce this?”
Did you miss the memo? I sometimes wonder. There have been denunciations aplenty.
But, seriously, it would try my patience to continually have to apologize for the hateful behavior of a handful of white people or the crackpot biblical interpretations made by a splinter sect of overwrought Christians.
If I felt pressured to message all my out-of-state friends to assure them I don’t agree with every objectionable sentiment voiced by a Texas politician, I’d never have time to do anything else. I just have to rely on people to have the good sense to grasp that we have not all lost our minds.
“Sadly, our image in this country has been ruined by a tiny fraction of brainwashed criminals in the Middle East,” a frustrated reader in Richardson wrote me last week.
Why should this man, a vice president of his neighborhood association (I Googled him), have to reassure anybody that he’s not one of that faction?
It’s that kind of frustration that has fueled such backlashes as sarcastic Twitter hashtag #MuslimApologies (“I’m sorry that Mufasa had to die in Lion King”; “I am sorry Pluto is no longer a planet”), or comedian Jon Stewart’s satirical reproach that a Muslim correspondent’s condemnation of terrorism wasn’t “denounce-y” enough.
There’s a bitter humor in all this, but I’m afraid it’s lost on the blowhards and bigots for whom no denunciation will ever be denounce-y enough, no apology sufficiently abject.
Because when the denunciations are duly made, these same critics won’t trust them, won’t believe them. They’ll cherry-pick Quran verses and quote radical fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic theology. They’ll claim to know “what Muslims believe” better than Muslims themselves.
“I know there will be people whom I will never be able to convince that the majority of Muslims are God-loving, peace-wanting good people,” Ali wrote in her blog post after the Garland attack. “So I’ll just keep trying my best to be a living example of who I want my children to be.”
Like all of us, Muslim Americans have every right to voice their opinions.
But they also have the right to mind their own business and live their own lives. As Ali writes, being a living example should speak for itself.