Islamophobia is as widespread and acceptable as anti-Semitism used to be

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In the morning was the computer technician and in the afternoon was the dentist, and it was Islamophobia a.m. and p.m.

The computer technician tells me stories with a little smile because he knows he’s getting under my skin. He said he has a client who gets to fly free on Qatar Airways because her sister works for them, and he told her not to fly on Qatar because the Emir is helping the people in Gaza. Does she listen to you? I asked. No she just laughs. Well are you going to stop working for her if she flies Qatar. No no, he said. That little smile. Though I believe in taking action. You’re really not going to like this. But when I see those Halal food stands in the city, I never buy from them. I go right by. Because you know Hamas gets money over here and I don’t want even a little bit of money maybe ending up with people who are trying to hurt me.

I merely nodded. I wanted my computer back, and fixed.

The dentist is an assimilated Muslim who got out of Iran before the revolution. He keeps trying to get me to go out for a drink. We have a lot to talk about. OK, let’s talk, I said. Have you ever considered that the root of the problem is that these countries have done nothing for 500 years, he said, so they’re envious of the west and western progress? I said, I like to focus on my own country’s responsibility. Why are we invading them? He said, But you have to understand the Muslim mind, they’re envious. I said, I’m trying to understand the Jewish mind, we came up with Zionism. It’s not helping. That’s what I’m focused on. He said, But do you realize all that Israel has created? I shrugged. The racism really upsets me. He said, I don’t know; why can’t they be left alone, why don’t these societies look at their own problems?

I said, I’m sure you’re right but the issue is occupying and stealing land. That’s going to upset people whether they’re backward, forward or sideways.

You don’t understand the effect of Islam.

I’m sure I don’t. I don’t know that it matters.

Once anti-semitism was just this acceptable. Anyone got to express the ideas because you didn’t pay any price for them. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, they all caricatured Jews. Henry Ford put out anti-Semitic literature and sold cars. Because Jews were different and had a different culture, different ways and values, and Jews were assuming a new role in western society. It’s no different with Muslims today. The anti-Muslim feelings are completely acceptable. The government acts on them, and so do the people. No one’s paying a price for prejudice.

Back when Jews were persecuted, the Jewish community and friends of Jews had to organize. The American Jewish Committee got started after the pogroms. The ADL started because of the Leo Frank lynching. The New York Times crusaded for Leo Frank, and the Methodist bishop in Atlanta refused to lift a finger to help: “I have been annoyed by letters from all over the country trying to draw me into the case on behalf of Mr. Frank.” There was a real reason for the organizations fighting anti-Semitism. They changed American attitudes, and government policy too. People of conscience have to do the same thing now for our Muslim brothers and sisters—kill the bigotry, fight the evil policies, show that Muslims are just part of the human family.

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