A Letter to the Editor titled “Acknowledging facts is not Islamophobic” from Maurice Pelagias was printed April 27 in response to the April 23 article “Chinese beard ban is vague and misguided.” Pelagias contends that the left wing wins by bullying people into the “most awful” labels there are and “garners contempt”, which prevents productive conversations. Yet, this statement failed to note its own blanket labelling and contempt of the left.
The main idea of Pelagias’ letter seems to be that anyone who says anything negative about Muslims should not immediately be labeled as an Islamophobe. I agree, and the original article had a pretty clear conclusion which doesn’t take much to find:
“Despite China having a reason to be fearful of religious extremists, this ban ignorantly considers everyone who wears a veil, has a beard or a non-Chinese name to be a radical terrorist.”
Pelagias’ letter provided data about some Muslim individuals’ attitudes toward extremist beliefs. This Pew Research studied individuals from “seven countries that have high Muslim populations … Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey”.
I fail to see how these numbers are relevant to this topic. Are we to generalize that attitudes of some Muslims from certain countries are the same attitudes of those in China and even the United States? Should we disregard the differences in culture and environment of each country? Pew Research reported a 1.6 billion global Muslim population. Thus, the 88 million Muslims holding a favorable view of Al Qaeda is only 8 percent of the entire population. Only 7 percent believe that suicide bombings are sometimes justified. This can go on and on.
I agree that we should not label people as “Islamophobes” for saying negative things about Muslims, but to justify a negative statement about Muslims using broad generalizations is wrong. This is how the right wing wins, and it’s easy to say that Republicans bully citizens by distracting them from the real issue. This kind of statement, however, demonstrates the problem with broad and hasty generalizations in the first place.
There are certainly right-wing thinkers that promote valid points. Similarly, the attitudes of some Muslim individuals toward certain ideas should not be taken as a reason for oppression. Having a veil or a beard does not indicate any person’s support for extremist views. More importantly, I could not imagine how a beard or a veil can help facilitate a terrorist’s plans. Perhaps, some believe that certain styles of beards can be used as a makeshift explosive, or that veils can hide things that a hoodie cannot.
Nevertheless, it is imprudent to judge a person’s appearance so quickly.
Acknowledging facts is not Islamophobic. However, to generalize the attitudes of a small number of Muslims as being the same attitudes of the entire 1.6 billion Muslim population all over the world, well, that is stereotyping, and dare I say, Islamophobic.
Anthony Co, fourth-year psychology major at CSUF.