I’m a Jewish, Israeli-American, middle-class woman…and I am a Muslim, too.

Today, I am Muslim, too.

Today, I am Muslim, too.

There were a lot of Jewish Muslims in Times Square on March 6, 2011. There were also a lot of Christian Muslims, Buddhist Muslims, Hindu Muslims, even a few atheist Muslim, armed with nothing but colorful umbrellas and cameras.

Despite the rain, many Muslims and non-Muslims came to the corner of 42nd St. and 7th Ave. to protest the hearings set up by Long Island Congressman Peter King to determine “the extent of the radicalization” of the American Muslim community. While King has defended his much-criticized hearings by insisting that the threat of radicalization in the Muslim community is bigger than that of radicalization in other communities, many, including those at the rally, have said that focusing solely on the American Muslim community is too narrow of an approach to fight radicalization.

As NG, my partner-in-rallying, and I made our way through the 500-some people and their umbrellas (sidenote: we saw two Coach umbrellas- NG: “I’m immediately judging that lady right now…which is not why we’re here today.” Giggles.), we heard a variety of statements about being American and patriotism. There were many statements about Muslims being treated as second-class citizens, America being full of diverse peoples and Islam being a faith of peace. The usual.

What got me thinking was one of those speakers that pauses every sentence to encourage cheering and gradually gets louder so that by the end of the speech, everyone’s basically screaming.

“When it happened to the Irish, it was wrong. (claps here and there). When it happened to the blacks, it was wrong. (strong applause). When it happened to the Jews, it was wrong. (applause and some woot-woots). When it happened to the Chinese, it was wrong! (solid woots and signs waving). When it happened to the Japanese, it was wrong! (staggeringly loud cheers, view blocked because of all the signs/umbrellas waving carelessly). It is happening to the Muslims (wait for it…) and it is WRONG!” (outlandish screams)

And this was even before Russell Simmons showed up.

Is the American Muslim community going through a rite of passage? That’s what I was wondering while yelling and avoiding escaped umbrellas. The Irish, blacks, Jews, all of these people went through a process of moving here and gaining respect from the already-established Americans. The U.S. seems to be an exclusive frat house, with a crazy hazing process. Each time these groups were persecuted, it was wrong, according to our charismatic speaker. But then why did we keep letting it happen?

Because of patriotism. Not patriotism the way it’s supposed to be, but patriotism the way it has been for a while. The patriotism that sent our troops into a never-ending war, the patriotism that makes us determine the “American-ness” of people, the patriotism that produces episodes like this (the patriotism that makes you claim you know Marines that would be willing to kill your constituents). The patriotism of generations past.

The emcee of the rally provided us with a new definition of patriotism, one which I think makes a little more sense: “Patriotism is standing up for your country when it is right, and correcting it when it is wrong.” What is more patriotic than understanding what your country is doing wrong and fixing it? This is the patriotism of my generation (I hope). Otherwise, we’re in for a pretty rough hazing.

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6 thoughts on “I’m a Jewish, Israeli-American, middle-class woman…and I am a Muslim, too.

  1. It seems we are going through another ugly period. I hope that things will get better soon. I think most people want the same things – safety, freedom from want, decent housing and good schools for their kids. There is no room for hate, we have, nationally and globally, too many problems that need solving, and all this division and name calling takes energy away from the main event. I am jewish, and have known bigotry – I stand with you, you won’t be alone. I think most americans are fair-minded, but some are ignorant, and need more access to the ‘other’, so their fears can be washed away.

    • You’re absolutely right; thankfully, the people taking these horrendous actions are in the minority. It’s good to know the Muslim American community has support!

      Let’s hope the hype for this dies down and we, as a nation, are able to focus on more pressing problems.

  2. This was interesting to read. I’ve thought about that a lot too, if this is just the time for Muslims to deal with what so many other races and religions have had to face before. But when will people just finally tire of the bigotry? It always makes me wonder if people are just that bored with their life because it’s such a ridiculous stance to support with so much enthusiasm. I just want to scream at the haters to get a new project. Go watch the ‘Bachelor’ and get your panties in a wad about who he picks. It’ll allow you the benefit of not being embarrassed later in history textbooks when the true stupidity of all this nonsense is revealed.

    I’m just going to continue to marvel at people’s ability to get swept up in a hate hurricane…. again. And maybe, just maybe, this might be the last time. But I won’t hold my breathe.

    • Yes, I wouldn’t hold my breath either. I just feel sorry for the people that are next.

      Obviously, the problem is that we don’t have compelling enough TV shows to keep people occupied. I think they need to start up “Friends” again.

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