Point of order?

Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things is a good way to point out the fact that Muslims are Just Like Us. What it isn’t, though, is what the creator intended it to be, which is a refutation “that there is such a thing as ‘Muslim garb’ or a Muslim look.”

What Juan Williams said, which is what got him fired from NPR and what inspired this website, was that what scared him in an airplane were “[…] people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

I’m not saying that I think it was appropriate that he shared that fear on national television, on a channel that is known for having a conservative and often racist, sexist, and Islamophobic slant. I am saying, though, that Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things doesn’t respond to the content of what Williams said, which is that he was afraid of people who chose to wear items of clothing that represented their religious beliefs in an overt and obvious manner that was not consistent with mainstream fashion, and in a way that is not comparable to the “normal” clothing shown in all of the pictures on the new Tumblr site. While jeans and t-shirts can be “Muslim garb” just like it can be “white garb” and “Hispanic garb,” hijabs and burqas are only Muslim garb. Williams didn’t say he was afraid of Muslims in jeans and t-shirts; he said he was afraid of people in an airport who were dressed first and foremost in a way that identified them immediately as Muslims.

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2 Responses to Point of order?

  1. David K says:

    I’m not saying that I think it was appropriate that he shared that fear on national television, on a channel that is known for having a conservative and often racist, sexist, and Islamophobic slant.
    I’d have to disagree with you there – FOX is the perfect place for liberals to share their irrational fears, especially if they are the same ones the core FOX audience has, provided that you explain that you understand that they are irrational, and that you have to think and act based on the complexity of the world as it really is. There were a lot of things to take away from being in a party which just got crushed in an election (hint, hint, Democrats) but one of the big ones is: never let it be that you don’t know what people are afraid of. If people are afraid (even if the thing they are afraid of doesn’t exist) they will not trust you if you act like there is no problem. You have to try and understand and put their fear in a rational context based on the evidence, you have to deal with it, because there is always someone ready to exploit fear to get power.

    This Juan Williams affair is yet another example of the sad state we have reached in the Atlantic-English left: there is only one approved way of talking about things, there are certain words which no-one EVER says unless they are racist / sectarian / queer-hating / misogynist, and (and this is the real killer…) NO-ONE who says or even hints at any of those things on “the index” is redeemable, is allowed to have be right about anything else, is allowed to have irrational feelings which they understand are wrong and try to think their way out of, is allowed to explain – in or out of context, we shall not hear from them again.

    I really don’t like this word “Islamophobic.”
    I’ve always been a tiny bit grateful to Wilhelm Marr, who had the intellectual honesty to put his conspiracy theory based Jew-hating on a consistent racial basis, and eschew merely religious antisemitism. I would have a similar appreciation for contemporary racists if they would stop using anti-religious sentiments as a cover for race-hate/violence. It would avoid the confusion between faiths and followers, which is very much encouraged by some clerics, and is the attitude that produces massacres. In the UK we used to have a term “Paki-bashing” which means beating up South Asians (they don’t have to come from Pakistan, they can be any colour you like, so long as it’s brown.) There are still organisations you can join if you like that sort of thing – BNP/EDL – but they tend to do it under cover of “resisting islamisation” and “protecting our culture/women” from the vile attentions of “Muslims.”

    Now I don’t care for Islam very much and I do not believe:
    1. that there is any G-d, named Allah or otherwise
    2. that Muhammed is his prophet
    3. that the Koran or any other Islamic writings were divinely inspired or the final and infallible word on any subject
    4. that mullahs, imams or anyone else is exempt from criticism, especially when they use their religion to bully other people, and regardless of whether the victims are followers or non-believers.

    and I don’t know what it’s like in the US but here, if you think these things and then talk and act like you do, then there is always someone with an agenda ready to accuse you of being the same as the racist far-right because you are both “Islamophobic”.
    I don’t like Islam, but I don’t hate Muslims, (I don’t even have much of the Juan Williams style temporary paranoia) and I don’t think that Muslims are taking over my town or my country. There should be a word for people like me, and there should be a word for people like the BNP/EDL. Neither of those two words should be “Islamophoic.”

    Hat-tip to the “Muslim Garb” page, here is some Richard Thompson…

    • April says:

      I don’t like Islam, but I don’t hate Muslims, (I don’t even have much of the Juan Williams style temporary paranoia) and I don’t think that Muslims are taking over my town or my country. There should be a word for people like me, and there should be a word for people like the BNP/EDL. Neither of those two words should be “Islamophoic.”

      Agreed, completely. I don’t care much for any particular religion, myself, and oftentimes, expressing that sentiment in certain environments is met with a lot of hostility, and often accusations of Islamophobia. It is similar in the US, but really mostly just in the uber-left circles. Actual Islamophobia or hatred toward Muslims is tolerated quite often by even the moderate left. I think Williams was ultimately steering toward that point with O’Reilly, but didn’t manage to get many words in to bring it full circle.

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