Reza Aslan recently wrote an interesting opinion column in the Jewish Daily where he talked about the need for Muslims to learn from past experiences to overcome the recent onslaught of Anti-Muslim propagation in the United States spearheaded by people such as Pamela Geller, Robert spencer, and so-called media organizations like fox news. Here a link to the entire piece but I would like to focus on an excerpt that I found the most important :
“But for that to happen, American Muslims must learn a valuable lesson from the American Jewish experience about how to reframe perception of their religious community. Rather than apologetically trying to strip away the veil of exoticism and otherness that had formed about their faith and culture — as so many Muslim leaders (myself included) are so desperate to do when it comes to Islam — American Jews plunged ahead in becoming business and political leaders themselves. Even more significantly, they took the lead in the arts: literature, music, film. Jewish ideas, Jewish mores and Jewish stories became a deeply ingrained part of the American cultural landscape, refashioning the mainstream. The same right-wing religious groups, which a century ago would likely have joined in the anti-Jewish chorus issuing forth from pulpits across America, now speak proudly of the country’s “Judeo-Christian” foundations.”
this , I believe, is probably the single most important point in combating the incorrect perceptions about the diverse muslim communities in the west. the problem is that most within the muslim culture, especially the middle and upper class, do not seem to value the professions of art and culture. this is prevalent all over the muslim world. if you examine the social norm of an average muslim majority country there is a robustly polarizing pecking order regarding career professions . ironically this culture of cultural neglect is carried over with immigrants who settle in the west. so what one has here is a community clearly lacking a PR foundation to disperse during times of tension.
if you now look at who ends up representing the muslim community on different news or tv shows its usually an old bearded muslim man with a heavy foreign accent who ,while he might have lived in his adopted country for a long period of time non the less does not and can not access or relate to the western mind-set and tends to deter audiences rather than engage.
Interesting things have been going on during the past couple of month concerning Islam, muslims, and their presence in Europe and the United States. First you had the Community center debacle in the lower Manhattan, then the German economists views on muslims in Europe and most recently the planned Quran burning by a low life fanatical pastor in florida. I guess one can easily see the common thread here. with regard to the mosque and the question of moderate Islam and Imam Rauf, Ross Douthat wrote an excellent piece in the New Times two weeks ago which really hit the nail on the head.
Now regarding the now cancelled Quran burning I will make only a couple of points. As hateful, ignorant, and despicable pastor Terry Jones is, something I think we can all agree on, any person who is willing to commit violence and murder as a reaction to his hateful act is one hundred times worse than pastor Terry and his fellow sheep. there is something very troubling about the way people like him along with prominent right-wing lunatics and fanatics are shaping the arguments over Islam in Europe and the United States while simultaneously the exact type of radical and extremist muslims are taking over the narrative within muslim communities. these idiots feed of each other while squeezing out the vast majority of moderates in the middle. It’s the absolute worst kind of mutual masturbation.
Last but not least is the new book released by now former board member of the German Central Bank Thilo Sarrazin. His book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (“Germany does away with itself”) has become the center of an escalating controversy in germany and in the rest of western europe. in it he states “With higher relative fertility among the less intelligent, the average intelligence of the population declines,” . the “less intelligent” he is referring to happens to be the muslim population in germany and added that “the inherited intellectual potential of the population is being progressively diluted.”. This seems to me to be the opinion of the vast majority of ethnic western european society and while there is definitely a growing segment of the population that has a strong tendency of irrational islamophobia, a much larger amount are worried about the quite extraordinary failure of European states to integrate and assimilate muslims in their respective societies. So before all you angry politically correct and self-righteous knuckle head go screaming murder, think about what this change of tone across western Europe might actually do to the process of cultural assimilation. for the past 60 years Europeans have been too afraid to assert any kind of cultural or national identity towards incoming immigrants and now look where that has left us. lets not let people shut down the conversation by simply hollering racism and for the first time in a very long time, let’s be honest about the cause of this parallel society within these countries. yes culture and discrimination does play a part but so does the exceedingly generous welfare and social programs that are in place right now. ill leave you with a book written by Christopher Caldwell called “Reflections on the Revoltuion in Europe : Immigration, Islam, and the West”.