In March, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was asked whether religion was at war with the West. His response? “I think Islam hates us.”
First of all, let’s talk about the fact that Trump just implied an entire religion actually has feelings, which is impossible. The process of treating something immaterial — like religion — as a material thing is called reification. Trump is practicing reification when he implies the Islam religion has a will and is capable of doing something.
Yet, his words still have an impact, especially on the millions of Americans who are Islamophobic, which means they have a dislike or prejudice toward Islam or Muslims. A lot of this fear stems from stereotypes or a lack of understanding and education.
It is easy to read the news and see atrocities being committed by people who are practicing Islam. But that is just a small group of people, and the Muslim people who are doing good things in the name of their religion are not being recognized.
Islam is not the only religion with extremist groups. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church also identify with religion. The Ku Klux Klan identifies as a Christian group, while the Westboro Baptist Church identifies as Baptist. While their actions are not as extreme as those of Islam extremists, they are still violent and upsetting.
In February, a KKK member used the point of a flagpole to stab multiple people at a rally that quickly turned violent. Group members have also been responsible for various racial hate crimes in the past.
This May, the Westboro Baptist Church has plans to picket high school graduation ceremonies to teach parents to “stop telling (their) children that God is a liar, nonexistent, or worse, that he loves everyone, thereby kicking God to the curb.” In the past, the group has picketed the funerals of U.S. soldiers.
But most people do not identify every Christian as being in the KKK or every Baptist as being a part of the Westboro Baptist church. In fact, there is little — if any — negativity associated with these religions in comparison to Islam.
And what about the Catholic Church? It is not an extremist group, but horrible abuse has occurred within the doors of the church. From 2004 to 2014, there were 3,400 sexual abuse cases reported. Within two years, Pope Benedict XVI defrocked 384 priests, and 2,572 priests were sentenced to a lifetime of penance. Between July 2013 and June 2014, the Catholic Church in the U.S. spent $150,747,387 on costs “related to child protection efforts and to allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors…”
Yet victims of sexual assault are not coming forward and saying that the Catholic Church hates them. Members victimized by the Ku Klux Klan have not claimed Christianity hates them, and people victimized by the Westboro Baptist have not said that the Baptist religion hates them.
It’s unreasonable to believe an entire religion of people can hate “us,” and it’s irresponsible of Trump to spread those words, and the fear associated with them, to the American public.
His uneducated words are contributing to the comments I have heard from my friends who say that they “dislike the Islamic religion.” My questions to them are: Have you researched it? Have you talked to people who practice in the religion?
I believe it is okay to dislike something or someone but only after you give them a chance. You can’t just listen to what other people say about something — you must form your own opinion. You’re not judging the Catholics in your life, so why judge the Muslims?
It’s OK to dislike people associated with each religion, but I guarantee you not every single person in the religion is bad. And I guarantee you that the religion does not have thoughts or feelings.
So please, don’t judge a religion by its stereotypes and don’t judge a person by their religious attire. Take a few minutes and get to know the religion and get to know the woman behind the headscarf. You may be surprised by what you find.
Before you judge someone, give them a chance. Isn’t that what you expect from others when they first meet you?
Katie Morris, ’18, is an assistant news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]