Parallels between the response to Islamic terrorism and the election

All analogies break down if you push them far enough. But they are still useful as a lens to understand things.  So don’t try to push this one too far, but see if you can learn something from it.

It seems to me that significant portions of the American population are engaging in discourse that we should know from current experience does not lead to positive outcomes.  They are repeating patterns established in the course of the conversation we’ve had about Islamic terrorism and what to do about it.

Some are afraid.  They have every right to be after the fear based campaigns we were all targeted with. They are afraid of what happens next. They are afraid that the promises made will come true. They are afraid of ‘the other’.  Just like a large segment of Americans have been afraid of  anyone in a hijab or reading a Koran in the last decade plus. Fortuantely our recent experience offers us a way out of that fear: get to know ‘the other’. This is not a call for unconditional acceptance. Rather, it is a call to move beyond broad generalizations to a more nuanced, specific conversation. That can only happen at a personal level. Find someone that voted for Trump and seek to understand why. I think you’ll find the vast majority of them aren’t nearly as scary as you think they are. I think you’ll also find that by seeking to understand, you will influence their views in a far more profound way than posting a meme on Facebook or attending a protest march.

I wote a vast majority aren’t that scary, not all aren’t scary. Some are positively terrifying. And that’s where the unafraid, or even celebratory, come in.  There have been calls for the moderate / mainstream leaders in the Muslim community to denounce acts of terror.  The other group needs to do something similar. The other group, what I believe is a majority of them, need to be very public in their denouncement of racism, bigotry and misogyny.  Otherwise it will always be guilt by association.  Those that can’t or won’t change their views and actions need to lose their seat at the table. They need to be shunned. You cannot force them to change their minds or make them act against their bias. This is not about safe spaces or trigger words. But you don’t have to listen to them, you don’t have to let them speak for you and you don’t have to associate with them.

If we can find a way to have these difficult, nuanced and personal conversations we can move beyond fear and find a way to each pursue our own vision of freedom without impeding our neighbors pursuit of theirs.  Maybe we’ll enjoy that so much, we’ll rid ourselves of the Islamic boogyman as well.

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