In addition to Sunday School and Bat Mitzvah training, my Jewish childhood was spotted with history lessons about the Holocaust. My bookshelves held the typical ‘90s girlhood titles, like The Babysitter’s Club series, plus The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. I read the latter two while still in elementary school. “Never Forget” was one of the biggest lessons I took from my Jewish education. It’s the refrain that helped shape the activist I am today.
What’s more horrifying to me than the photographic evidence of emaciated bodies from starvation, and testimonies of unspeakable torture, is the thought of entire countries turning their backs to the suffering of innocents; of ordinary people with families and children of their own being so quick to believe stereotypes and outright lies from the soapbox of a powerful, charismatic leader. It’s not just that Hitler was so engaging with the public and a gifted speaker: he provided a convenient scapegoat for a nation that was already fearful and paranoid about its future.
Why am I talking about this? Because fear and paranoia is what I’m seeing more of lately, pertaining to Muslims and their “infiltration” of America. The fear of ISIS and what its members are capable of is more than valid, but since that’s happening “over there” in the Middle East, what can be done about it from here in the States? How about blaming all Muslims and advocate driving them out, as advocated in an editorial from Charisma News, written by a preacher named Gary Cass (that editorial has, mercifully, been taken down after a mass outrage on Twitter)? Yeah, that’s an ideal “solution.”
This should sound dangerously familiar!
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on the original article. There are plenty of people calling themselves “Christian” who agree with him. Your skin should start to crawl now.
As someone who was raised with awareness of what fear can do, we cannot allow this fear to shape our view of all Muslims. This is how the fires of history’s most tragic persecutions and genocides get started.
I’m sad that this needs to be pointed out. I’m sad that this lesson bears repeating. But the anti-Muslim vitriol I’m seeing posted on Facebook and Twitter, some of it coming from my brothers and sisters in Christ, makes it necessary. I have to wonder if many of them have ever met a practicing Muslim before. Where are they getting their lessons from? The media? Or from flesh-and-blood people who practice Islam?
Christians: remember that we get it wrong, too. Our history is stained by inquisitions, witch burnings, and persecutions. Today, we insist those held responsible weren’t really followers of Jesus; they were followers of some other agenda. So why are we so quick to paint all Muslims as terrorists?
I’ve seen plenty of posts advocating grace for abusive preachers like Mark Driscoll, whose hateful, misogynistic views on women and homosexuals have sunk his ministry. I’ve seen posts that are quick to point out “That’s not what Jesus would do” when the Westboro Baptists picket another funeral with their angry “God Hates Fags” signs. Our Muslims neighbors should be shown the same grace.
Please, do not let your fear get in the way of your good judgment. Do not let your paranoia get in the way of considering “what Jesus would do.”
“You shall fear your perceived enemies and drive them out of your country” is something Jesus never said.