This is just another part of the whole Blogging A to Z series where I pick a letter and just write.
Just when you thought that maybe intolerance, racism, and bigotry were beginning to go the way of the dinosaur in this country – along comes some random social media post, particularly on Facebook, to provide another outlet for the truly stupid. And this isn’t a First Amendment argument. I’m not arguing against anyone’s right to voice their opinion. I’m questioning why people still have these opinions in the first place.
Today’s case-in-point: teaching religion in school. Particularly Islam.
A story posted online titled “Christian Students Forced to Pray to Allah, Study Quran, Pledge Allegiance to Afghan Flag” received a plethora of comments from so many who either simply don’t get it, were never taught it, or who think they just know it better than anyone else. ‘It’, in this case, being common sense.
The article has since been partially redacted due to a “bogus source” and “completely false information.”
Good for the author for admitting the error which was certainly the right action to take. Yet it’s the reactions by the masses that should now be put under the proverbial microscope yet I highly doubt they would take back their words.
For a country who’s suppose to stand for religious tolerance, we only tend to do so when the religion to be tolerated is Christianity.
The responses from John Q. Public on Facebook were head-scratching to say the least.
- “That’s what we get for electing a black president.”
- “So now we’re raising terrorists in our own country?”
- “Kids can’t carry bibles in school, but are forced to convert to Islam.”
- “There is only one God!”
It’s not only amazing to me that people think this way, but also that they feel the need to share those thoughts publicly. In some ways, you’d almost think that the idea of social media would provide a level of self-censorship because let’s face it: would you really want your friends, family, clients, co-workers, and employer to know you think this way?
Or that you’re – hey look at me being nice here – an idiot?
Granted, I think there’s a fine line between teaching the fundamentals of various religions as opposed to pushing specific beliefs or agenda. Unfortunately, I don’t know where that line is. Yet I do know that the number one way to overcome prejudice and intolerance is to educate and perhaps expose.
Personally, after 9/11, I read everything I could on Islam, terrorism, and the culture in the Middle East. I read the Koran, the Hadith, books by FBI terrorist experts, and a few great reads by Thomas Friedman on the political and sociological climate in Islamic countries.
I learned that Islam is – and I still find it odd that I use this term – a beautiful religion. And, probably to the utter dismay of one of the commentators referenced above, Allah and God are one in the same. Just as in the Bible, the Koran holds the prophets Abraham, Job, Noah, and others in the highest regard. They celebrate Mary as well as her son Jesus. Trust me, there’s overlap.
Yet there are certainly differences and, unfortunately, Americans have a history of not always thinking too highly of anything ‘different’.
I’m reminded again of a wonderful quote by former US Navy SEAL Mark L. Donald who served in Afghanistan. He writes in his book Battle Ready: Memoir of a SEAL Medic that:
“If there has been one lesson I’ve learned over my years of service it’s that intolerance feeds the fire of hate until prejudice becomes an accepted practice.”
Just when I start to think that maybe we’re turning the corner on intolerance and prejudice in America – a long come the likes of Donald Sterling and Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty who fan those flames; or in this case, by people on Facebook who simply think they know better than everyone else.
Apparently I’m just being naive.