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    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • February 15, 2015 in Columnists

    Muslims, I’m scared of you and I really wish I wasn’t

     I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
    Susan B. Anthony

    I don’t want to be scared of you, Muslims. I really, really don’t. And truth be told, I have real trouble dredging up any fear of the lovely young woman in the hijab with a baby on her hip or the elder in a skullcap walking with his family. I’m not scared of your children and I’m not quivering in terror when I encounter a young man working at a service station or a bank or with me, at work. I look at you and I just see – people.

    I’m also not afraid, in general, of the Taliban or ISIS, at least not on this soil. You will not find me gallivanting off to the regions where they hold sway and I’m reasonably certain they would not succeed in mounting a long-term assault on the U.S. mainland. We have some pretty good defenses and the resources to back them up.

    What I’m afraid of is what I fear from the other half of my species, many of whom turn out to be monsters indistinguishable from other men until the masks come off and the rapist, molester or domestic abuser is revealed. I’m afraid that some of you are wearing masks of sweet cordiality and that behind that is that toxic combination of religiosity, fanaticism, hatred and the determination to convert the world to Islam through any means, including rape, blood and death.

    That scares me walleyed.

    There are monsters of every ilk – absolute truth – and yes, this is me making the ridiculous disclaimer that my brilliant colleague, Kelvin Wade wrote about here (http://ipinionsyndicate.com/jerry-seinfeld-isis-and-fuzzy-disclaimers/ ). I make the disclaimers I do for fear of creating a climate of hate – after all, despite my odd official and unofficial connection to Judaism (converted, adopted daughter of a Jewish adoptive father), I am all too aware of what happens to a people when hatred is allowed to grow like some noisome fungus in the foul and humid dark. Nonetheless, despite my sneaking suspicion that the news sources are pushing what sells (by scaring the snot out of people), there’s no arguing just how much horror is happening these days at the hands of tribalists wearing the mask of Islam.

    Just yesterday, it was Copenhagen, targeting the cartoonist who had the audacity to draw something honestly insulting about the Prophet and a synagogue. Barely a moment ago, it was France, targeting both cartoonists and kosher grocery store shoppers. We have the ongoing evils of ISIS, we have the Taliban, we have Boko Haram, we have Darfur. The horrors are constant and ongoing and seem to be spreading.

    These are people who don’t just want to create a culture of profound, religion-based oppression for their own people. They want to create it for everybody. They want the entire world to be Islamic as they interpret it and they pretty much don’t care who they have to shoot, burn, rape or torture to do it. If they wind up with a world of ash and cinders, they’d be fine with it as long as the official world faith was their cruel interpretation of a religion based on love.

    Mind you, I tend to have a beef with fanatics of any faith. I’m annoyed with fanatical Christians. The Jewish Ultra-Orthodox are pretty awful. But neither of these faiths have recently put any effort into forcibly converting anybody. Admittedly, theocratic nations with those faiths as their official philosophies have been badly behaved, but individuals and groups that represent these faiths do not tend to go in and murder people at random because they had the audacity to say something or do something that did not fit into their religious paradigms. To draw something. To believe something different. Ultra-Orthodox Jews discourage conversion. Christian Evangelicals will just preach your ear off and then they’ll feed you and insist you listen to their doctrines as the price of the meal (trust me, I had to deal with that when I was homeless for a short time and it’s real annoying). Yes, there was that one guy in Sweden, but he was a nutcase working independently.

    The shooters in France had connections to ISIS and it wouldn’t shock me to discover the same about the shooters in Denmark. I look at the pictures of these shooters and I would never have suspected them of the hate and fanaticism that drove them to the targeted bloodbaths they perpetrated. I would have smiled at them as I passed them on the street. I would have engaged them in friendly conversation if I’d done any sort of business with them. I would have made friends with them. I would have asked after their familes, admired their children and given them hugs and words of encouragement if they were having a hard time. I would have respected their faith because I would have assumed that they were among the lovely Muslim majority who just wants to live peacefully and have happy lives.

    And these fanatics would have turned around, once the masks were removed, and put a gun to my head and blown out my brains without a moment’s hesitation. Not one moment. Not a regret. Nothing.

    I wouldn’t be human to them. Not at all. I would be a fecking Jew to them or an American woman whoring herself by showing her hair or singing or whatever criteria they had for seeing me as a person that I inherently failed.

    I know people are capable of dehumanizing even people they are close to. We saw that in the Holocaust when, as a survivor described at my synagogue, they lived beside their neighbors, worked each other’s harvests, the kids stayed overnight at each other’s houses, but when the Nazis came, these same neighbors pointed their fingers and said “These are Jews” with cold eyes and watched indifferently as the Jews were hauled off to slaughter.

    So, despite my absolute reluctance to fear Muslims in general and my inability to muster any fear of people I’ve known for a while, I am afraid of casual acquaintances of the Muslim faith. Are you the lovely people you certainly appear to be? Or are you just waiting for a chance to take off the mask? This fear creates a terribly hostile world for all Muslims, which is  the none-too-well-hidden cost to you, the Muslim majority, of the fanatics who blend in so well. I know what group hatred did to my people. I could not bear it if the result of the actions of these monsters caused you harm as it did to my own people, the Jews…

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