Friday, March 25, 2011


I am tip-toeing into this upsetting subject.

I cannot pretend I haven't heard and felt the truth and reason in my friends very passionate, logical, factual concerns over Muslims throughout the world -- friends who know from personal experience that Muslims are threatening them and their relatives. Their concerns are also my concerns.

We are talking about life and death fears. We are talking about "race" -- the social and political problems caused by conflict between races occupying the same or adjacent regions.

People have always been judged based on their skin color, their religion, their heritage, their gender, and their race. People from all walks of life, from all around the world, face this every day, and it's the cause of many of the major conflicts around the world.

"Racism" is the belief that the genetic factors which constitute race, ethnicity, or nationality are a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that ethnic differences produce an inherent superiority, or inferiority of a particular race.

The UN does not define "racism," but it does define "racial discrimination." According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, "The term racial discrimination shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public."

Okay, what do I know personally about this? I'm white. My family, agnostic Jews, who didn't want to belong to any religious organization, lived in an all white, wealthy, Christian community in Illinois. Even so, I was called by my classmates, a "dirty Jew," and punched, beaten up, rejected, told again and again -- "You killed Christ!"

It created in me race prejudice. Though later on, some of my best friend in my life were Jewish, I was Anti-Semitic. And maybe that's why I was intensely aware of how many people I knew thought blacks were an inferior race.

The anti-black dramas that I've been involved with, (on the side-lines but experienced nevertheless), are on my mind nowadays because of the anti-Obama zealots who hate everything he stands for, who have a mountain high pile of concerns about Obama destroying their America.

Is it race prejudice? Call it whatever you want -- it's a contagious, killing disease that I feel and observe every time I turn on the radio, the television, read a paper, or go online -- and I am seeing it now in my city and on my street.

This is my huge, biggest concern. Bigger than who is going to be elected in 2012. Bigger than how are we going to get out of the wars we are in.

The people whom I fear are not white supremacists. They are ordinary people, but I fear what's happening because of their insidious fears -- the fears of people in my city. They are now pulling away from their neighbors in my city and on my street -- neighbors who happen to be Muslims.

Hey, a Muslim in Africa, or in Egypt, a brother in the Brotherhood of Muslims is one person, not all Muslims. My neighbors, Muslims you know and deal with are individuals -- men and women. Don't let us become race-prejudiced against people who believe differently from the way we believe.

Love thy neighbor. Listen, speak with him, don't close your mind and heart.


Anonymous said...

YES! YES! YES! "open your heart, talk to people" don't let any of us be manipulated by ignorance and fear. We are all human beings first and foremost. xxxxxooooo Heather

Bobbie Horowitz said...

Emily - I'm so glad you bring this up.

I have sweet, intelligent friends who are Muslim. I live in a building that's very near the UN and several apartments in my building are owned by missions to the UN - for their employees to use. Through an accident I befriended the gorgeous, young girl who lives in the apartment below me. She came to America to work at the Iraqui mission. There are the wonderful Palestinian brothers who bought a food store in Bensonhurst that my grandfather had purchased in the 1930s and the young Turkish fellow who left my building to teach religion at the University of Utah. Why do I take the time to mention each (and there are more)? These people couldn't be kinder and more caring for people. I'm very interested in studying the Koran. Many friends have told me that it's central theme if the necessity of doing away with anyone or thing that is not Muslim. I wonder if that's really it's core. We always laughed at our Italian friends for thinking Mary was a virgin and therefore God impregnated her. I've since learned that in Aramaic (which is what Jesus spoke) the word Virgin just meant young girl and had nothing to do with sexual experience. If the Muslims I know wanted to do away with me they've had opportunity and I never sensed a drop of anger in them.

I don' know if the "purge the world of everybody else mentality is pervasive or limited to radical groups who have done so much damage and teach their young children to do damage. It's certainly not part of the thinking of the people I know. I am looking for a course in the Koran.

Bless you, Emily,