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):
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.