I received an e-mail today from someone I refer to as my Negative Muse. I call her that because she sends me all sorts of conservative e-mails that I answer her about, and I've turned a whole lot of my replies into posts. Here's the e-mail:

New from Dearborn , Michigan just in time for Christmas.




The latest toy has hit the shops... a talking Muslim doll.

Nobody knows what the F..... it says, because no one has the guts to pull the cord

It might make you laugh

if you aren't from Dearborn.

Sure, a lot of ethnic jokes are funny, but they're also nasty, and what's behind them makes them not worth it. This particular e-mail came from a crowd that has it in for Muslims. I know this because I get a lot of forwarded e-mails from them all about how Muslims are taking over Europe, how Islam is all about conquest, how Europe is on its way to being governed by Sharia law, how we have to stop them before it's too late, etc. I send my answers back upstream to my muse and I don't know what she disseminates and what she doesn't. I say the usual stuff (some of which I'll state better here and not all of which I get to):

  • A population of one and a half billion Muslims is not monolithic. Holding Sufis responsible for what Sunni radicals do makes about as much sense as holding Quakers responsible for Catholic Priest child molestation coverups.
  • The fact that you can find extreme things in the Qur'an means about as much as the fact that you can find extreme things in the Old Testament/Tanakh, but no one sane is running around saying that Jews or Christians execute people for Sabbath violations or kill disobedient children.
  • Not every Muslim immigrant to every country is trying to replace civil law with Sharia law - in fact, survey information in Europe indicates most don't.
  • Accusing all Muslims of having views that line up with Al Qaida increases the influence of Al Qaida, not what I'd call a desirable outcome.
  • Major terrorism in the United States has primarily been the purview of guys like the Oklahoma City bombers, yet somehow that hasn't led to stereotypes about middle American Christian White guys.
  • Being as my muse and her crowd are, like me, Jewish, which is how I know her (online) in the first place: Historically, back when countries on the Mediterranean really were run on Sharia in the Middle Ages, Muslims were better to Jews than Christians were during the same period - the best place for Jews to be was Muslim Spain, the worst place for Jews to be was Christian Spain (ever hear of the Spanish Inquisition?) - so please don't give me this crap about how Islam inherently has it in for Jews. You could make the same argument about Christians and yet we're doing OK in majority Christian nations like the United States and Canada, thank you.
  • Not all Muslims are strict adherents like not all Jews aren't. You might have noticed that not all Jews dress like a Brooklyn version of the Amish. I'm pretty active in my Jewish community, but that doesn't mean I'm a strict follower of the teachings of the Reformischer Rebbe. Incidentally, there isn't one.

But this isn't Europe. Unlike Europe, we really integrate immigrants here, which we can do because we're in one of the few countries in the world where ethnicity has next to nothing to do with nationality. You can have German citizenship without being thought of as German. Believe me, we know - we found that one out the hard way. We're different. In this respect, at least for our size, America is exceptional.

And that exceptionality (Is that a word?) is a two-way street. We accept, and we get loyalty for it. Real loyalty. Immigrants can be fiercely patriotic.

The Arab-American community in Dearborn is certainly no exception. That community does not consist of a bunch of disaffected fundamentalists grumbling about infidels and planning revolution. It consists of people who go to mosques where they learn lessons similar to those that other Americans learn in churches and synagogues: lessons about faith, justice, compassion, and charity. (In Islam, charity is completely obligatory.) It consists of what is in many respects a typical American population whose kids go to public school, play football, sing the national anthem (as in The Star Spangled Banner), pledge to the flag, and some of whom join the American military, fight for our country, die for our country, and are buried in American military cemeteries under a Crescent and Star instead of a Cross or a Star of David.

Remember the Ground Zero Mosque flap? That took place in New York but New York wasn't the only place hit by an airliner on 9/11. The Pentagon was. Nobody talked about building a mosque at the Pentagon. Why not? Because it wasn't necessary - interdenominational chapels inside the Pentagon had already hosted Muslim services for years. When you voluntarily put your life on the line for the United States every day, the Pentagon doesn't question your loyalty. That particular piece of idiocy is reserved for those who do not understand or acknowledge that commitment.

So what is this e-mail really about?

Bigotry, of course. It's another ethnic joke, and in this case it targets a particularly vulnerable population.

Just what we want American Muslim kids to think - that the rest of the country thinks they're terrorists, that they won't really be accepted as American like other minorities are, that their loyalty to the United States is not a two-way street.

That is, of course, what those few who are inclined to recruit for radical Islamic organizations will tell them.

And they'll use e-mails about talking Muslim dolls to prove their point.

Views: 837

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on November 25, 2012 at 5:30pm

Thank you very much for raising this up, Kosh.

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on November 25, 2012 at 5:30pm
For some reason I'm flummoxed by the like button today... in any case consider this liked and read... BTW my solution for pinheads who e-mail trash and conspiracy is to mark the damn things as junk and sweep them away. I got no time for that find of garbage.
Comment by L in the Southeast on November 25, 2012 at 5:54pm

That's awful.  Is there no end to this crap?

Comment by Zanelle on November 25, 2012 at 6:04pm
How sad!
Comment by Cranky Cuss on November 25, 2012 at 6:04pm

I used to have a negative muse who would forward me (and a bunch of others) the latest ridiculous right-wing rumors about Obama.  I began to answer by finding the snopes.com entry that thoroughly debunked the story and hitting "reply all."  After the second time I did that, I seemed to have been miraculously removed from the cc list.  I was almost disappointed because I began to enjoy the debunking.

Comment by tr ig on November 25, 2012 at 6:08pm

"how Muslims are taking over Europe, how Islam is all about conquest"

"WE" hate competition, us "Christians" -- imperialist assholes that WE are

Comment by Kenneth Sibbett on November 25, 2012 at 6:17pm

A ScannerPick Kosh, until the Reader's Picks come in. (have they?)

Comment by Jenny on November 25, 2012 at 6:17pm

My dad could have sent me that, maybe he did, I wouldn't know as I mostly delete his mass emails cause they're silly or homophobic. I still love him though.

Comment by koshersalaami on November 25, 2012 at 9:34pm

Thanks, guys.

Kenneth, we haven't had a conversation about reviving Readers' Picks or opening a version here. It's kind of time-consuming. In the last several weeks of its existence, most of the work was done by Lezlie. I don't have the time to do it justice and I doubt she wants to. Amy and I founded it, but she left and I have plenty of reason to believe that she doesn't want to get re-involved. Frankly, she's a bit sensitive for this line of work, so we'd just be on borrowed time. Tink was involved; I don't know if he'd want to be reinvolved. There were a couple of others.

It might make sense to ask Lorianne if she wants to institute that kind of function for the site. We couldn't do that at OS; frankly, the whole RP idea came about because of the inadequacies of what OS did, EP's, but we could here. If she wanted to, I'd have no trouble briefing her on what we did and why.

All that aside, thanks for the SP.

Comment by Oryoki Bowl on November 25, 2012 at 9:39pm

I would place an order for three and ask if it was in Arabic, Muslim and then pick a random language.  Because I am slightly evil, and would want her to prove her point to exhaustion and a little humiliation and then shut up already.  I just quit a job where thankfully, the really nice people I work with don't get to keep spouting their Fox news fed racist diatribes on me.  Of course, this week it wasn't the blacks of Chicago on welfare or the muslims anywhere, it was medical marijuana being bad for you and causing more driving problems because we are turning into socialists.  I don't get emails like these from anyone, thankfully.  


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