Response to Maria’s Comment

Maria,

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!  I definitely agree that it is difficult to notice when religious oppression is taking place, especially because it can be so subtle and does not always effect a majority of the population.  Issues like having “In God We Trust” on our currency can be so difficult to address, since they are rooted so deeply in the traditions of this country and have already been heavily debated in the past with no change as a result.  In cases such as this, I think it is important to remember that this country was built by and for people who started as immigrants, regardless of the traditions that have developed as a result.  On the topic of currency specifically, it would be interesting to hear the perspectives of someone outside of the Christian faith, as I have generally only discussed the topic with those within the church.

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Comment on “Where To Invade Next”

Ethan,

This pessimistic outlook on our country has been the topic of many conversations I’ve had recently and, quite frankly, reading your post was a great wake-up call for me. After moving from my hometown, where politics were more or less taboo, to this campus, where students are so vocal about the problems facing our country, I very easily gave into the “grass is greener” mindset that you write about. Hearing constantly about anti-refugee sentiment, systematic inequality, and other flaws in our political system while observing the undying national pride of European friends has lead me to feel quite disheartened about the state of America. However, maintaining this defeatist outlook can only hamper the success of our country, especially as it fails to recognize the many ways in which our country has improved. Without understanding our past successes along with our shortcomings, we will never be able to learn and implement successful policies. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and reminding us that national pride is not nearly as unsubstantiated as we are prone to believing.

Comment on “How Free is Life in Detroit?”

Alex,

This post was eye-opening for me.  Having grown-up in Michigan and now living so near Detroit, I assumed I knew a great deal about the plight of Detroit.  However, your blog elucidated many intricacies of the crisis I had previously been blind to.  I was especially surprised by the public health facts that El-Sayed shared, although those about gang violence are no less appalling.  Until traveling to an area without access to affordable nutrition, I had never realized how fortunate we are to have something as mundane as a grocery store in our communities.  It truly is a tragedy that these problems are rarely a part of the dialogue about rebuilding Detroit, and far worse that we so often fail to see that such crippling problems exist in our “free and equal” country.  Thank you for the reminder that we cannot distance ourselves from issues that truly hit so close to home.

“Democratic, Christian America”

It starts with the Pilgrims.  From the stories we learn in the very beginning of elementary school, the notion of religious freedom is drilled into our minds.  The idea and its effects permeate our education by way of history and civics classes, debates about “God” on our currency, and introductory science books that now discuss evolution.  Our national identity revolves so much around our ability to worship or not worship according to our beliefs that we sometimes fail to fully acknowledge violations of this liberty when they arise because, in our American mindset, they simply should not exist.

Before attending Student Voices Against Islamophobia, I was not completely oblivious to religious oppression within our nation, but I certainly failed to realize its reach and its repercussions.  The event began with a list of all the atrocities—verbal and physical—that Muslim Americans have suffered in our homeland over the past few years.  Immediately I was floored–how did I not know?  Three Muslim American college students in North Carolina were murdered last year and I had never heard about it.  Student stories poured forth of verbal attacks on the street, of threats against the entirety of Islam, and of ceaseless hours spent shamefully and silently wishing to hide hijabs for safety’s sake.  In a country that worships religious liberty and in schools that exalt its foundations, Americans walk around fearing the repercussions of their beliefs on a daily basis.

As I have learned just this week, Frederick Douglass’s speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, beautifully illuminates the hypocrisy behind American Islamophobia.  While slavery and Islamophobia are problems separated by over a century, both are deeply rooted in a horribly outdated notion of what makes an American. Somehow, despite almost two hundred and fifty years of radical equality, social upheaval, and startling diversity, this nation is still trying to fit the description of “tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America”.  We may openly preach religious tolerance, but the practices of certain citizens, some unfortunate politicians, and a widely ignorant society completely contradict our claims, criminalizing and polarizing a group of individuals solely based on their religion.  As Douglass puts it, “at the very moment that [we] are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty” many of us, including some of our government officials, promote a mindset that unfairly targets a group of fellow citizens and often excludes them from our national identity.

I have never experienced this or any persecution first-hand, and I fully acknowledge that I am one of the least qualified people to write on the topic, much less propose a solution.  However, I consider myself both a Christian and a Patriot.  As such, I hope to use my privilege to better this country that I and so many others love, hoping that soon the country may love every last one of us too.