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Islamophobia: We’re the United States of Embarrassment

BY GUEST OPINION | MARCH 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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On Sunday, I watched the CNN documentary “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” in a state of bewilderment, anger, and above all, disgust. The hourlong film explored the town of Murfreesboro, Tenn., which contains a large population of Islamophobes.

Phobias by nature are irrational; Islamophobia is defined as the irrational fear of Muslims.

Members of this town described Murfreesboro as warm, welcoming, and accepting of all others — a great place to raise a family. That is, unless you’re an American citizen and practicing Muslim expecting to be able to exercise your basic First Amendment right guaranteed to all U.S. citizens — in that case, you’re out of luck.

The members of this small town (who all live under the same rock, apparently) are under the impression that being a Muslim is the same as being a terrorist. It is because of this ignorant and erroneous belief that the majority of their citizens oppose the building of a Muslim-based community center on the outskirts of town.

What’s wrong with that? Essentially, it’s just another mega-church, just not one that is Christian-based. To the average and seemingly uneducated Murfeesboroan, the community center is going to be a terrorist breeding ground, hell bent on destroying the “great state” of Tennessee.

All joking aside, this is the latest symptom in a growing disease that is infecting the uneducated electorate in our country. To be clear: The idea that 1.6 billion people — one-fifth of our global population — are actively trying to kill all Americans is absolutely absurd. The main issue here is ignorance, and it embarrasses me to no end that our country has an appetite for such nonsense.

Last time I checked, religious fanatics come in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, they make up an unbelievably small fraction of a large group of good-hearted individuals.

Ironically enough, the Christian and/or anti-Islam members of the community actively and openly supported a terrorism of their own and tore down signs and vandalized trucks and other building equipment in order to prevent an otherwise peaceful process from occurring.

I can now understand why Americans are viewed unfavorably; this country was founded with religious freedom as a priority and is, again, denying it to those we don’t understand. History shows similar situations, such as anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic feelings of years past, tend to be something that we look back on and scoff at our own ignorance. While I believe that this is the same situation — that we are merely being overly dramatic and ignorant of something that many don’t understand and fear because of it — it saddens me that tomorrow will not be the day that we wake up and realize our foolishness.

Timm Krueger is a UI sophomore majoring in political science and history.


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