Tag Archives: Islam

Fifteen Minutes

A couple months ago, I typed up a little thing and posted it on Facebook. It was just a funny little play on recent headlines, meant to point out some of the more obvious hypocrisies in the social-political issues of the day. I put about five minutes into it, and didn’t think much of it.

Imagine my surprise when my Facebook status received over 30,000 likes and shares in a matter of hours. (As a point of reference, I doubt anything I’d posted previously had gotten more than 100 likes. I’m just this guy, you know?) Shortly thereafter, Facebook removed my status update for not meeting community standards.

My assumption is that it was the result of a formula: X Likes + Y Shares / Z Complaints = Post Removed. Sure, I can see why some people might not like it, but it was a long way from offensive. But, whatever.

Wait. Not whatever. I was pretty happy to see my message, no matter how flawed, reach so many people so quickly. I decided that I wanted to get it back out there. I found a cool website (www.cmx.io) that generated comics in the style of XKCD (www.xkcd.com). With just a few minor edits, I turned my status into a comic, uploaded it to imgur (www.imgur.com), and put it back out there.

Meanwhile, in America…

That’s when things got really crazy. Over the next couple days, that comic racked up a quarter million shares and likes. It bled over to Twitter and Pinterest. It was picked up by Lizz Winstead, who has over 100,000 followers herself. It was viewed 750,000 times on imgur. Daily Kos shared it with MILLIONS of viewers. It was (very badly) ripped off to make a new meme featuring some guy from Duck Dimwits. I had to remove Facebook and Twitter from my phone, as I couldn’t use it due to the constant notifications. In short, it went viral.

Well, that was something, wasn’t it? The response was overwhelmingly positive, but that’s to be expected as I was mostly preaching to the choir. The negative responses were far more interesting.

One of the first messages I received after posting was some weird, rambling screed comparing me to the Nazis. It really made no sense at all, but certainly helped prove Godwin’s Law.

Next came a handful of generic whiners: stupid liberal, that’s not true, you don’t like it when conservatives make generalizations, blah, blah, blah.

Most surprising, though, was the number of people who went to great lengths to disagree with me. I received messages from dozens of people who wanted to explain to me, in great detail, why I was being silly. The practical upshot was that no reasonable person would think this way. Conservatives aren’t terrified of Muslims, they’re terrified of radicals of any creed. I was being unfair by making these sweeping generalizations, because no thinking person would use this logic.

To those people I say, “DUH.”

That was the whole freakin’ point. No reasonable person would think that way; I was making fun of unreasonable people. If you are not the type of person who uses this sort of logic, I wasn’t making fun of you.

Everything I referenced in this little wordplay came from real, actual statements by public figures. UNREASONABLE public figures. UNTHINKING public figures. These are the people that drive us liberals crazy. These are the people that should drive reasonable conservatives crazy, too, because they make you look bad, much like Nancy Pelosi makes us liberals look bad. We’re not so different, you and I.

The whole experience was fascinating to me. For one thing, (I’m not gonna lie here) it was pretty good for my ego. It was interesting to see it spread, and it reinforced the speed and power of the internet. It demonstrated that viral can’t be forced. If I had known what would happen, I probably would have tried to monetize it somehow. (Actually, if I had know what would happen, I probably would have edited it a million times and screwed up the whole thing.) I wished I had something to promote or share while I had the internet’s attention.

In the end, it was just a thing that happened. I’m proud of it. It’s unlikely I changed a single person’s mind, but maybe, just maybe, I did.

I Am a Racist

Recently, I posted some quick math on my Facebook page:

1.6 billion Muslims in the world. 184,000 terrorists in the world (an extremely inflated estimate, just to be safe). If ALL the terrorists in the world are Muslims (which they aren’t), that would mean that roughly 0.011% of Muslims are terrorists.

To put it another way:

If you encountered 1,000 Muslims today, you still probably wouldn’t have met a terrorist.

Now, the percentage of Muslims IN THE NEWS who are terrorists, well, that’s a different story.

Granted, this all involves some rounding and some interpretation, but it wasn’t my intention to show exact figures. I just wanted to make a general statement that most Muslims are not terrorists.

Well, that sparked a debate. Some of my more conservative friends felt I was being too PC, or ignoring the fact that every Muslim in the world wants to KILL ME ON SIGHT. The double standards and the missings of the points flew like fur.

I could ramble on for hours about this topic and the related left/right issues that came with it, but I’m actually going to drift off on a tangent now.

Out of all the commentary on the topic, one line really stuck with me:

…the leftist’s incessant need to NOT be thought of as racist or Islamophobic brings cover to the most dangerous religious fanatics on the planet today.

Now, we’ll forget the context of this sentence, as it’s irrelevant to my writing today. What really stuck with me is the idea that not wanting to be thought of as a racist is somehow a bad thing. I disagree.

I don’t want to be thought of as a racist, because being a racist is bad. It’s just that simple.

Unfortunately, I am a racist. (I’m also a sexist and an ageist an probably just about every kind of -ist you can name.) I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in a suburb of Cincinnati, a city that rarely makes the news for its tolerance and equality. I heard racist jokes and racist assumptions as a kid, and I hear them as an adult. Whether or not I agree with them, believe them, or take them to heart, they still reside somewhere in my brain.

If I’m out walking at night, and a group of young black guys starts following me, I get nervous. If I see an attractive woman in a position of power, I wonder how she got the job. And yes, if I’m boarding a plane with a couple of Muslims, the word “bomb” will flash through my head somewhere.

I’m not proud of this. I know these thoughts are wrong and completely unfair. I am a victim of years of conditioning to make me think that way. If I take a second or two to process my thoughts, I come to a more reasonable conclusion.

If I’m out walking at night, and a group of young black guys starts following me, I get nervous. But wait… are they following me, or simply going the same direction I happen to be going? Are they carrying guns and smoking crack, or are they carrying groceries and looking at their phones? Are they even aware I’m walking in front of them, or are they minding their own business?

Lucky for me, I’m a middle-aged white guy. I have the luxury of making these assumptions and revising them at my leisure. No one ever looks at me and crosses the street to avoid me. If I get a good job, no one’s ever going to assume I slept with someone to get it. I’m never going to be profiled while getting on a plane. And most of all, no one is trying to legislate me away. That is my privilege.

Still, I don’t want to be thought of as a racist. Or an Islamophobe. Or a sexist. I don’t want to look at people and assume bad things about them. I don’t want people to look at me and assume bad things about me. I think most people don’t want that.

I will apologize if my words or actions come across as racist, and I will do my best to revise the thought process that led me there.  But, I will not apologize for not wanting to be seen as a racist. I will not apologize for trying to learn to respect my fellow human beings.

I will not apologize for believing that fear of 0.011% of a group is not enough to fear the whole group.