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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Fear of Islam in America hindering foreign relations

As the election season approaches, it is important for Americans to consider each candidate’s foreign policy regarding the Arab Spring and the Muslim world.

Often times, Americans fall prey to the Islamophobia propagated by many politicians, such as Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

On Friday Sept. 14 at the Value Voters Summit in Washington D.C., Bachmann delivered a speech where she stated: “This time, I’m sorry to say, it’s even worse because the fires of radical Islamic traditionalism are not just limited to one country. They’re currently raging all across Africa and all across Asia. Every week our Christian brothers and sisters from Nigeria to Kenya are being persecuted.”

Bachmann uses the term “radical Islamic traditionalism,” but she does not define it. What is radical Islamic traditionalism? To insinuate that those who are followers of Islam are trying to attack American values and Christian ideals is too simplistic a view.

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Bachmann mentions the persecution of Christians in these areas, and on this point, Bachmann and I agree: the persecution of Christians in these areas is similar to the persecution of Muslims in America.

Throughout history, certain groups of people have been targeted for hatred. In the past 100 years, the United States has hated the Japanese during World War II, going so far as to put them in internment camps; hated African Americans on a wide-spread scale; hated homosexuals, which continues today; and, most prominently now, hates Muslims.

Our society has created an “us” and “them” mentality that can be likened to the Cold War era. America versus the communists bent on destroying us from the inside. After the Cold War, the United States has lacked an enemy, until the heightened dealings with the Middle East and the events of September 11.

The United States has defined Islam as “them,” the people whom are against our country. Americans refer to these people as Muslims, Arabs and terrorists almost interchangeably.

This foreignness—geographically, politically, spiritually—has led to such rampant and socially-acceptable discrimination against the Muslim faith in America.

Nearly one in four people in the world are Muslim, according to a report published by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life in 2009. It is estimated that there are 1.57 billion Muslims, nine out of 10 of them are Sunni Muslims.

An Arab person is someone from the Arab Spring region in the Middle East, while a Muslim is someone who is a believer of the Islamic faith. A terrorist is someone whom uses violence to achieve political aims. These terms are not interchangeable.

A Gallup Poll from August revealed that 93 percent of Muslim Americans are loyal to the United States; 80 percent of Jews, 59 percent of Catholics and 56 percent of Protestants also believed Muslim Americans are loyal to the United States.

Nearly half of America, mostly Christian, doubts the allegiance of Muslim Americans. This is due in part to the fear mongering of prominent figures in society as well as American Publications.

The December 2011 issue of The Atlantic had a cover depicting a man holding an AK-47, wearing a turban that covered his face and long, flowing clothing with a headline “The Ally From Hell,” an article by Jeffery Goldberg and Marc Ambinder.

This image is a stereotypical, ignorant view of one quarter of the world, and the article uses the term Muslim and jihadist as synonyms for each other throughout the article. The authors write, “Western leaders have stated that a paramount goal of their counter-terrorism efforts is to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of jihadists.”

To whom does “Western leaders” refer? This is something few think of, but the West is constantly battling with another entity, in this case the Near East. This separation between cultures isolates an entire people and, like us, they are fed propaganda based on fear (an easy thing to do when American drone campaigns plague Yemen and Afghanistan) that creates hatred against America.

The ignorance on both sides is what separates the West from the Near East from the East. Governments make no efforts, nor do the people, to understand the culture of those with whom we interact politically, economically and culturally.

President Barack Obama has made it a goal to develop America’s relations with the Muslim world. He has made efforts to build a report with the new governments of Egypt and Libya.

By creating a bond between America and the Muslim world, perhaps we can avoid cultural misunderstandings, but first America has to deepen its understanding of the Muslim identity. Without knowledge of what being Muslim means, Americans will always fall prone to Islamophobia and the fear mongering of public figures.

This election season, do not let either presidential candidate paint the Muslim world as a threat. Do not let congressional candidates or incumbents spread word of an insurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood in American politics. To do so would be to accept one of the biggest lies of our time.

The fear of Islam is leading America towards a route of ignorance and injustice to those citizens whom are Muslim. They deserve the right to practice their religion without persecution.

In Africa, Christians may be persecuted because they do not enjoy the separation of church and state as in America, or the separation between mosque and state as in Turkey.

We live in America, a land founded on religious freedom. Muslims should feel welcome, not marginalized by a fearful Christian hegemony. To say that Muslims are the perpetrators of terrorism is to falsely blame 1.57 billion people for the dogmatic views of a small minority.

Let Americans free themselves of this fear, because there is no “us” and “them.”

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