How to defeat racism? Get to know one another: Nawaz

Zarqa Nawaz’ concluding para worth noting:

Today we have parents freaking out because Muslim teenagers want to pray in schools. If anyone can get a teenager to put their smartphones away for five minutes to commune with God, good luck to you. Praying is a dying art. Ask white people, even the Irish ones. One local is offering $1,000 to students to videotape hate speech at a Muslim prayer service. But why stop there? Any group that promotes hate should face the same scrutiny.

As my friend Sheema Khan said at the Woodrow Lloyd Lecture at the University of Regina last week, fighting racism means recognizing “alternative facts” that are spread about Muslims by anti-Muslim bigots. We’re actually not clamouring for sharia, at least not the kind white people worry about. We like the sharia that gets us boneless, skinless chicken thighs at Wal-Mart and interest-free loans at the bank. If we were going to dig holes and stone adulterers, Donald Trump’s former wife Ivana Trump would have been the first person to convert years ago.

And speaking of the U.S. President, he didn’t create the racists. He just emboldened them to speak out and act out. And we know that hate speech has a clear link to hate crimes, which have spiked against Muslims since he was elected. It isn’t a stretch to think his rhetoric may have resulted in the mass murder of Muslims in Quebec City. That scares me. Whenever I try to talk to my kids about my feelings, they just record me on Snapchat, use the filters that transform me into a high-pitched, squeaky, hysterical rodent with bug eyes and floppy ears, and send the video to all their friends as an example of their nutty mother who worries too much.

So this is what I say to myself every day. We’ve been down this path before. Most people at their core are inherently good. We fear what we don’t know and the only way to defeat racism is to get to know each other, whether through our neighbours, colleagues, teachers, students, books, plays or television shows. A hundred years ago, no one would have believed that two men of Irish heritage, Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, once part of a despised minority, would be leading their respective countries. Racism is part of human nature, and will always be with us – just ask black people in the United States – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to rise above it.

Source: How to defeat racism? Get to know one another – The Globe and Mail

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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