Doing more good than harm

Two of America’s most vocal and visible Islamophobes, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, backed by the cottage industry of religious bigots outlined in this recently released report, entitled Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, seem to be doing more harm than good to their cause if one of their goals is to make Islam absolutely hateful to Americans.

Like a lot of other people in the haze and confusion of the 9/11 attacks, Johannah Segarich asked herself: “What kind of religion is this that could inspire people to do this?”

She had studied other religions, but never Islam. So she bought a copy of the Quran, wondering if her notions of Islam as a patriarchal and now seemingly violent religion, would be confirmed.

Then she got to the first chapter, with its seven-line message about seeking guidance from a merciful creator. She finished the Quran a few weeks later, then started reading it again. About half way through, barely 10 weeks after 9/11, “I came to the realization,” she said, “that I had a decision to make.”

Segarich began studying Islam more intensely, and within a few months, the Utah-born music instructor made her Islamic declaration of faith, or shehadah, at the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge.

“It seemed kind of crazy to do. I was a middle-aged professional woman, very independent, very contemporary, and here I was turning to this religion, which at that point was so reviled,” Segarich recalled…….

Angela Collins Telles grew up in southern California but had a travel bug that took her to Egypt and Syria, where she made friends and found most people generous and compassionate. When anti-Muslim rhetoric flared after 9/11, Collins Telles felt a need to push back.

“I saw my country demonizing these people as terrorists and oppressors of women, and I couldn’t think of anything further from the truth,” she said, “and I felt a need to stand-up and defend them. But then I realized that I couldn’t argue without knowledge.”……..

Chicagoan Kelly Kaufmann had a similar experience. When relatives chastised her for volunteering for President Obama’s presidential campaign because they believed, erroneously, he is Muslim, she felt a need to study religion. When she came to Islam, her beliefs finally seemed in sync.

“Once I realized that’s where my beliefs aligned, I had that big uh-oh moment that a lot of people have when they realize, ‘Uh-oh, the (religion) I align with is the big fat scary one, as treated by the media, and understood as such by the public,” she said.

But after nearly a year of study, Kaufmann could find nothing wrong with Islam. She decided to convert after confronting a man at a public lecture who said Muslims hated peace……

That’s not to say that the likes of Geller, Spencer, aren’t to be taken seriously, for not only is their goal revulsion of Islam by the general public, but it is to influence legislation to adversely affect the practice of religious freedom in America starting with Islam and on that score they must be opposed, despite the deep pockets they bring to this ideological fight.  But this much can be said…..for every step they take forward they will find an increasingly resistant public to their rhetoric.


2 thoughts on “Doing more good than harm”

  1. Can I go to Saudi Arabia and openly practice Christianity there? And am I free to criticize Islam, as a deceitful, false religion, in their media?

  2. If you are an American, the comparison to Saudi Arabia, a monarchy, is shameful. The two countries, neither of which are true adherents to their faiths are as different as night and day. America, a heterogeneous society by design is not the same as the tribal society known today as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, I note with more than a bit of irony, there are probably many Americans who wish their America could be the despotic, monolithic one characterized by KSA.

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