Countering the false witness against our American Muslim neighbors
Sticks and stones begin with words.
We know that the vast majority of ideologically justified violence in the United States is by white, Christian supremacists. Yet our national narrative often dismisses them as “bad apples”. Many don’t know that Dylann Roof was a Christian. Anti-Muslim hate groups engage in messaging studies to learn how to divide Americans from each other. Christian pastors seek to build unity against others instead of doing the hard work of love of God and neighbor. Given that the majority of Americans have never met a Muslim and know little of Islam makes them vulnerable to a false national narrative about Muslims. Sadly, sometimes even respected journalists fail to question this national narrative. The New York Times, in an analysis by 416 Labs, speaks about Muslims and Islam in worse terms than cancer or cocaine. Journalism requires fact-checking. Journalism also requires constant evaluation of our biases and the biases of our audiences lest confirmation bias leads us down a path of dehumanization that leads to violence.
Sticks and stones begin with words and make everyone less safe.
A Lutheran Pastor, Terry Kyllo of Paths to Understanding and a Muslim, Aneelah Afzali of MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network) created the “Facts Over Fear” Campaign to set the record straight and prepare patriotic Americans to stand united as a nation against hate and misinformation as we prepare for the 2020 election. Working with Studio Capon, they developed five animated videos to counter the dehumanization of Muslims and provide a resource for allies to respond to false claims.
These three-minute videos take on the four major misconceptions promoted by anti-Muslim hate groups. The videos cover Islam and Peace, Islam and other Religions, What is Shariah?, and Islam and Women’s Rights. In addition, the first video of the series gives an overview of the work of anti-Muslim hate groups, which divides the American people and undermines our Constitutional values.
The Facts Over Fear Campaign releases last week and this week are about “Islam and Peace” and “What is Shariah?”
Islam calls people to promote peace. Even when someone harms us, Islam teaches, we are to respond to hate with love. Sadly, people of all wisdom traditions fail to live up to their teachings. Rejecting collective blame for the actions of a few, let us work together for a peaceful future based on mutual respect and compassion.
Shariah is a term for Islamic teachings like caring for parents, feeding the hungry and obeying the law of the land in which you live. In the United States, this means obeying the US Constitution. Those who seek to “ban Shariah” are tearing down our constitutional rights. Fourteen states in have passed anti-Muslim bills, adding institutional and structural force to bigotry and taking away the rights of Muslims and Jews to seek court-authorized mediation. Standing for the rights of religious minorities is how we protect the rights we all enjoy.