Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ignorance on Display

The bumper sticker says, “Everything I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.”

There is a picture of the enflamed World Trade Center towers to the right of the text.

Think of the layers of horrible decision-making that bumper sticker had to go through to appear on the back of that white SUV in Springfield, Missouri.

Someone had to think of the idea. A graphic designer had to put it together. A printer had to produce it. A marketer had to stock it in a store or on a website. A citizen had to see it, like it, purchase it, stick it to his or her car, and drive around town with it in full view of anyone who happens to look.

The bumper sticker says essentially, “I am ignorant. I am choosing to remain ignorant. I am, in fact, proud to be ignorant. I want everyone who drives behind me to know that I am ignorant and choosing to remain so.”

Ignorant – adjective
1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned.
2. lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact.
3. uninformed; unaware.

I really cannot process how I am reacting emotionally to seeing this bumper sticker this morning. I am angry. I am stunned. I am terrified. I am hoping it’s a joke. I am afraid it isn’t.

I am praying to God that this attitude represents a tiny, tiny minority opinion. Please God tell me that it’s the smallest possible fraction of people who think this way. Maybe even just this one guy. That would make it easier, if it was just this one guy.

I know, each person in this nation is entitled to their own opinion. We are free to think what we want to think about Islam as a religion and about Muslims as individual people practicing that religion. No one should attack another person for an opinion they hold.

Unless … Yes, there is an “unless” here. It may not be a legal “unless,” but it is most definitely a moral one. You can think what you want, unless it does harm to someone. If your attitude toward another person does them harm, or creates the potential to do them harm, then it needs to be challenged. And let’s not even entertain the “how can a thought do someone harm” question; it is naïve, deceptive, and misses the point entirely.

“Everything I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.”

My heart breaks, my stomach turns, my jaw clenches. I cannot fathom why anyone ever thought such an idea should see the light of day. I don’t know if I’m more upset about the idea itself or about its public display. I even found myself wondering about this person’s friends and family, and why nobody said anything to the driver, like, "Um, hey man. That bumper sticker is horrible and it makes you look like a moron, so you know, you should probably not put it on your car."

Someone please tell me this kind of thinking does not represent more than a handful of America’s most ignorant citizens. Please tell me that. I can’t imagine living in a community in which this sentiment represents more than .05% of the population. No wait, that’s too high. I’m still holding out hope that it’s just the one guy.

Because surely nobody else thinks like that … right?

I mean … right?


KC Bob said...

I wish that it could be written off to Ozark redneck ignorance (how do you like that stereotype?) but I think views about Islam and Muslims embrace a lot of Islamophobia.

Anonymous said...

"You can think what you want, unless it does harm to someone."
That is what this is all about. Some folks don't care to know what Islam is. But when it harms them and their country, they begin to care. Now we can see what the hard core muslims do, we do not want them to hurt anyone else.

Steve Barquist said...

What I can not understand is what a person who professes to be a Christian, who can not understand what religion does to people. It twists them into pretzels that cannot see the harm that their religion does to the world. One says you cannot get to heaven unless you believe in a God-man. One says you cannot draw a picture of their prophet. Another sect believe you should fly planes into buildings. Islam sucks as bad as any other.