Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dearly Loved Victims 

Given that my visitor traffic dips every year at the start of school, I know my readership includes many students learning about life, and I feel responsible towards them …

Just like folks in the New Age movement, I like achieving professional development and personal growth, and then helping others achieve too. That’s why I’ve been thinking about the status of local Muslims today. I like spiraling around that onion.

Of course my readers are not into “New Age weirdness.” Nevertheless I would urge you, if you doubt such woo-woo things as “positive thinking” or “a positive mental attitude” to go ask someone you think is successful whether he or she believes in positive thinking—and then go and do likewise.

And if you are a Muslim reader, I might urge you to find a successful Muslim and ask if he believes in being a victim—and then likewise stop being in “victim mode.” You can’t be very successful at management, sales or life unless, between your ears, you are positive, realistic and not a victim.

I say this not to be New Age but because I sometimes read in the newspapers that Muslims see Islam worldwide, and themselves, as victims. They see Islam as being unknown and “everywhere under siege.” Actually, Islam is better known than ever. When Syrian refugees pour into Europe they are not referred to by the usual 20th century term, “Arabs,” but with the new Muslim-preferred term, “Muslims.” It’s nice for Muslims to see the world acknowledging how Muslims feel brotherhood; it’s not nice for me to read about “brothers in victimhood.”

You may recall how around the time of 9/11, like a country singer sang about himself, most people did not know Iraq from Iran. “Most people” would include students at university. Naturally students are scholars, but only about things that concern them. Before 9/11 undergraduates had no reason for concern about desert geography on the far side of the world. No reason to be concerned about Muslims.

Meanwhile, for things of interest, naturally university students learn to document and footnote, as they learn to value substance over opinion. For example, in my health class I might raise my hand to say, “According to (location) (title) (name) at a Canadian palliative care conference, held here at the university, ‘after their child has died of cancer, X percent of parents will get divorced.’” This controversial percentage, then, would not be stated as being solely my opinion. As I participated in class I would be showing good academic conduct.

Another sort of good conduct would be how, on campus, a student won’t say anything controversial about Iraq, or about Iran, unless he knows for sure which is which. No guessing. Not unless he wants his fellow academics to lose respect for him.

One evening I truly lost respect: I was dumbfounded, as our fighter-bombers were doing their bombing runs in Yugoslavia, to hear what “Farrah” said. An active student, Farrah was pretty, liberal and Muslim. At a meeting in student council chambers she said, “They are bombing my people.” Of South Asian heritage, she didn’t wear a nun-style religious head covering, or hijab. As I recall, back in the nineties people didn't know that word, and nobody ever dressed that way except for a few old ladies in tubular coats.

This was before 9/11; and no, Farrah's people weren’t Serbians. How could she not know which was which, not know that Canadians were bombing Serbians, not Muslims, defending Muslims, not Serbians? I think she guessed because she assumed: She was looking through a lens of victimhood, even though normally she was a good student. At the time I didn’t understand; I filed it away, and years later when I read about Muslim victim-mode I said, “Now I get it!”  

By the way, (BTW) if you are an eager student on a campus full of eager people, you may want to go around asking, “If there was a payoff for seeing Muslims as victims, then what might that payoff be?” Don’t expect an instant answer: Even students of psychology will understand their white rats better than they understand themselves. And be careful when you ask Muslim church officials: They are successful, of course, but not in a “management” sense. They have more in common with serene professors of Religious Studies than with scrambling entrepreneurs, business executives or naval officers.

It was a Muslim ex-U.S. navy officer and head of a Muslim organization, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who characterized another Muslim organization as “stoking the flames and raising funds off the exaggerated narrative that Muslims are under siege…” (Note: I am not giving you an easy answer to the above question—He is not saying that money is the most important reason for the victim narrative)

Jasser is quoted in the Calgary Sun newspaper column before me. It’s by a middle-aged, suit-and-tie Canadian Muslim writer, Tarek Fatah.  On December 23, 2015, page 15, Fatah notes that two Muslim organizations formed a third, and then met in Washington D.C. to hold a two-day Muslim leadership conference. Last Sunday they condemned terror, but they
“…did not renounce the doctrine of armed jihad that feeds Islamic terrorism nor call for taking politics out of American mosques.
… There was no call to cleanse the American Muslim house of all jihadi literature.”

Reading between the lines, I sense that victimhood is somehow connected to keeping a belief in jihad, as a tool for the weak… even though “everybody knows” Islam means peace.

At least, that’s how it seems to me right now.

If a Muslim friend tells you “anybody who’s a Muslim knows Islam is under siege” then I have an answer for you. Don’t ask him about the army of kidnappers moving through Africa, or the infiltrators with rubber boats who snuck into India and shot up the financial district, or the killers who drove to Paris. Instead ask, “Did somebody say so? Who’s he? How does he know? —Can he document and footnote?”

And if your friend gets annoyed at you for being so confoundedly scientific, then you can lighten the atmosphere with a humor-story about President Abraham Lincoln during the civil war:

You may recall poor Lincoln had to keep firing his newest top general, and then appointing a new one, desperately hoping each time to find a general, at last, who was adequate. This agony went on for years before he finally found his General Grant. At one point, when Lincoln was gently giving another top general another chance, someone complained bitterly to Lincoln “You have to replace General X!”
Lincoln kept his temper, asking mildly, “With whom?”
“With anybody!”
“Well, anybody might do for you, but I must have somebody.”

Sean Crawford
~ I noted how Farrah wore no head cover in everyday life, which seemed so natural to us at the time. (I don’t know what she wore to her mosque) Fatah’s column ends with two Muslim women recently writing in the Washington Post to plead with liberals who were trying to be politically correct. “Please do this instead: Do not wear a headscarf in ‘solidarity’ with the ideology that mostly silences us, equating our bodies with ‘honor.’ Stand with us instead … against the ideology of Islamism that demands we cover our hair.”

~Lots of initials from Fatah’s column:
The Islamic Circle of North America (IGNA),
along with other American Islamic organizations such as
the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
formed the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO)
that hosted a National Muslim Leadership Summit on Sunday in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Jasser founded and heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

~Fatah’s final line: But is anyone listening to the voices of reason among North American Muslims?

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