Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Arabic Signs Panic Virginians
The AP is reporting that a program operating near Richmond sponsored by the Virginia Interfaith Center is raising eyebrows and causing some members of the citizenry to worry that secret Terrorist messages are being left across the city.
The small beige signs bearing black Arabic script have been appearing all over town on buses and at colleges.
The signs, which below the Arabic script carry English translations and comments that indirectly caution against jumping to conclusions, are part of a campaign by A More Perfect Union, a program of the Virginia Interfaith Center, and are aimed at dispelling some of the public's fears toward the Muslim community. Organizers hope to eventually expand the program statewide.
Of course, the signs are not a secret terrorist message, but an attempt to soften the image of Islam. The idea is to get Virginians more at ease with seeing Arabic script and not to automatically associate it with terrorism.
"As people see Arabic, they immediately make an association with terrorism," said the Rev. C. Douglas Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center, a nonpartisan coalition of faith communities that work for change through education and advocacy. "That's probably because since Nine-Eleven, not only is fear overwhelming us, but that's how we're being trained to think."
This campaign is, however, a most disingenuous and, ultimately, insidious one.
Insidious in that, should this campaign truly work to make Americans cease to be alarmed at signs of Islam, we will surely be giving Islamofascists succor and freedom. It can do nothing but assist Islamist extremists to tear down American defenses and allow them to more freely roam about our country to commit their murder and mayhem at will given cover by all lack of alarm at Islamic activities.
The AP story gave us a perfect example of its disingenuousness, as well.
Bias toward the Muslim community is a continuing problem across the country and in Virginia, said Imad Damaj, president of the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs.
"There's so many lazy, unexamined assumptions about all of us and how we react to people," Damaj said. "We need to challenge ourselves."
Schoel said history has proven that Americans can learn to let go of irrational fears toward other cultures.
"After World War II, when people saw Japanese script it was scary," she said. "But now we see it and it's fun, it's hip, it signifies a cool culture."
"That's a huge turnaround."
Sure it's "fun, it's hip" and "cool" to become fond of Japanese symbols now because Japan is an ally and has gone from a militaristic, monarchy to a democracy. THAT is why it is now "cool" and "hip", not because Americans have successfully "challenged" themselves about Japan, but because Japan has itself changed to be more deserving of interest and respect. The Japanese people have given us a reason to become at ease with their culture. The Japanese have gone out of their way to become a respected, benevolent people and have joined the civilized nations in commerce, entertainment and culture.
Islam has most certainly not given Americans any reason whatsoever to trust it or become at ease with it and the Virginia Interfaith Center knows this full well, hence the disingenuousness.
This program acts as if it is we Americans that must somehow change, to accept Islam better, to be more "tolerant" of it, instead of Islam's to show us why we should be more tolerant of it. Islam has not done a single thing even to meet us half way to convince us that it is, in truth, a benevolent -- or even benign -- ideology.
Americans have absolutely no reason whatever to become at ease with signs of Islam.
Not one single reason.
This obsequious campaign by the Virginia Interfaith Center should be opposed until Islam gives us a reason not to be biased against it and displays of its symbols.