Did That Really Just Happen?
I still shake my head when I think about it. Yesterday, my partners and I were in New York City. We were taking a cab from one meeting to the next, and the cab driver was dealing with typical New York City traffic.
As the cab driver was trying to squeeze through an intersection, he ended up blocking a crosswalk. Definintely not a good thing, but if you've walked through New York, you know that this happens all the time. One man who started to cross the street yelled an unbelievable string of epithets to the cab driver which included two of the "George Carlin 7 Words you can't say on TV" (both forms of the 'f-word') as well as "towel head". My partner and I were stunned. We just don't hear hate speech like that. Maybe the cab driver could have been called an idiot for blocking the crosswalk, but not this.
As you can imagine, the cab driver was wearing a turban. I'd guess that he was a Sikh. I know from other Sikh friends I have that they are often targeted by discrimination, particularly after September 11. Ignorant people confuse them with Muslims, although I would have no problem being confused with a Muslim. In the aftermath of September 11, we have demonized so many people, instead of just the radicals who are the real problems.
I'm lucky that I don't hear such hatred daily, aimed at me or anyone else. Although we made a comment to the cab driver when it happened, I wish we had something even stronger (or better yet, called out the window to the moron who insulted the cab driver).
One reason why the 'Barack Obama is a secret Muslim' rumor persists is that people believe that it would be bad (or unacceptable to the American people) to be a Muslim. Of course, everyone prefers to be identified correctly, but it would great of Obama said something like "I don't happen to be a Muslim, but so what if I was?" He's done a great job of deftly discussing race, and I think one thing that excites so many people about Obama is that he seems capable of bringing so many taboo issues to the fore. That won't solve them, but discussing them in the open, clearly and rationally, is critical.
That's one reason why I like the show 30 Days on FX. Check out this episode called Muslims & America from Season 1. If you have negative feelings about Muslims, this will help you learn more and break down some barriers.
This is probably the first Biblical reference I have made in my life:
Proverbs 4:7 - ...get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding