Islamophobia is quite the particular beast when it comes to online harassment. As in it does seem to come from just about everywhere. From people who you think are your allies, and from those who are your sworn enemies.
I remember having to conceal my identity from wherever I go, and right up until 2016 when election season was kicking into high gear, I never truly confessed my religious allegiance on social media because I saw what it can do on Reddit, on YouTube, and several other corners of the internet where moderation is nigh-on absent. People get more scrutinized for the fact they believe in a God, and they are presumed by many to be less intelligent, and more prone to radicalization as a result, but that’s not who I am — that’s never who I was meant to be.
I remember having to conceal my identity from wherever I go
When ISIS first rose to prominence, I was repeatedly and constantly mocked in the public. Mostly by teenagers who are still well into their edgy phase. The fact I still have to see the shit I’m about to show online is deeply demoralizing, and it’s become a trigger for me, that whenever I stumble upon anything even remotely similar, I experience racial trauma on what only could be described as PTSD-adjacent. I’m momentarily thrust back into that feeling I have whenever my guard is down, and I’m expected to conform a notion that makes me a killer, a rapist, a leech on society, and so much of what is thought to be universal to Muslims, solely based on the vague assumption that since they’re brown, and fit the profile of an Arab, they must be one, and therefore, they’re filthy Muslims not to be fucked with.
I told people repeatedly that they need to stop thinking that the ‘gotcha’ condescending attitude towards religious people is a clever retorque to any showing of bigoted behavior. The very fact that atheist/agnostic people get away with much worse, don’t have anyone but themselves to account for their actions, and don’t have their deeds blamed on whoever their idol is, speaks volumes about our failure as a society to acknowledge that bigotry, has been, and always will be, a personal behavior instigated by our own very personal failings, and not the teachings of a deity.
There’s a fine line to walk between feeling like you’ve done a good thing, and having done something great for religious minorities around the world — dumping your deep-seated hatred of Evangelicals on the rest of theists is counterproductive. It will only further divide us, and will create a rift that’s impossible to overcome even by those most reconciliatory.
Or so at least I’m not mad enough to attempt to bridge that gap because most of my racial trauma doesn’t come from Christians — it comes from New Atheists. And the fact that I have to constantly put out a reminder on social media that I’d rather not have to deal with any disparaging comment about someone’s worshipped deity is quite showing of how bigotry never left, but only seemed to exchange hands and faces.
It is absolutely not ‘woke’ to throw people of faith under the bus for the failure of others who merely have to only claim they follow said faith. As it has been potent to not say ‘Fuck Allah’ because an ISIS combatant has blown someone, it has never been potent to shed your grievances, whether you’re a person of faith or not, on someone’s deity, it is a line I’m not willing to let people cross.
It is absolutely not ‘woke’ to throw people of faith under the bus for the failure of others who merely have to only claim they follow said faith
And hey, maybe I’m making an entire ordeal about this all for nothing. But I trust my gut, and it’s telling me most people don’t truly realize what bad a feeling it is to see alt-right trolls’ concerns co-signed by normal everyday people.
I was hurting, I became physically ill last night after seeing those comments. The replies were oh so ever gut-wrenching. I was propelled right back to when New Atheists used to call the God I revere with so much respect a “Skydaddy”.
I don’t believe that God is an imaginary friend in the sky, or that he’s my daddy, (ironically or literally) I have an actual abusive dad who has never done for me nearly as enough as I expected him to do. That when I was at my lowest, this very same imaginary friend people claim He is, was there for me when I needed him most.
People outside the Abrahamic umbrella rarely ever understand the intimacy of the relationship a believer has with their worshipped deity. It’s somehow viewed as foul, or ‘corny’, but to me, it has everything to do with acceptance, and nothing to do with exclusion or exclusivity.
For me, and to see a pasty white woman dish on someone’s God as being “homophobic and transphobic”, is about as sane as saying Marx has killed millions despite his followers, including mass murderers, not understanding a lick of his doctrine — except with God, it’s easier to market, it’s easier to make people believe like you actually give a shit, when in reality, you truly don’t.
This particularly doesn’t bode well with a lot of islamophobes on the left being discovered almost weekly it seems like, with only the very few willing to disavow them. Which means we’ll never be safe. We’ll never know safety as whom we’re targeted by don’t have a particularly outspoken sense of religious identity or belonging and a lot they can competently call their “brethren”.
They’ll truly never know what it feels like to see their peers mocked and ridiculed from whichever way the wind blows. Almost everywhere, and all the time. Muslims are being repressed, and driven to damn-near insanity trying to cobble up together a semblance of stability in a place that actively works to antagonize them. But it looks like that however hard we try, we’ll always be at the crossfires of a petty argument on social media; the umpteenth person on Twitter to not be insulted directly to avoid a suspension, but rather have their God insulted because that’s considered “an alternate opinion”.
Your hatred of me, and your adamant insistence in empowering the very worst of anti-theism and Movement Atheism shows we’re not allies, and we can never be allies until we’re truly on a parallel path of togetherness towards progress, and the longer we are marginalized, the more likely someone will develop an animosity for these people and will end up losing their life, and costing others theirs in the process. And for what? A cheap shot at someone on social media? How petty.
If I myself, came to the same conclusion reading the tweet, as others did and figured that might not have been a very good tweet to send, people should listen. Atheists and Agnostic people alike should take what we think of our inadvertent involvement with a hateful rhetoric into account. Why are we excluded from the conversations that concern the very fabric of our long-held belief in mutual respect and coexistence is totally beyond me. It’s as if we’ve made a more concerted effort in maintaining interfaith dialogue between us, and people of different faiths, than the people with the most neutral outlook on faith have with us.
Ultimately, and at this point, it’s a regular occurrence in Left Twitter that I should’ve been prepared to see. But it caught me so off guard because of this built-up image in my head that I had of it when I recently joined: “it is the most accepting place, like ever”. Come to realize, it’s a constant game of back-stabbing and blame-shifting I wanted no part of.
It’s the same shtick that Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Maher, and others have pioneered and even profiteered off of. The not-so-blatant hint that whatever ‘God’ you worship is an idiot, and He’s all to blame for you being a dumbass is basically what it culminates into. It’s nothing new, just the old repackaged as ‘wokeness’ to fool the inattentive into thinking it is part of progressive politics, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I urge all my fellow Jews, Christians, and Muslims, to band around, together in unison, and show dissenters that we are serious and determined about our message of peace — that whoever uses our platform for nothing but pain and resentment, will be ours to reprimand, and not others’ to smear us with.
At the end here, I’d like to address a small concern some of you might have. Why didn’t I rush to denounce transphobia and homophobia first, and then make a case for why God shouldn’t be the butt of the joke in progressive discourse? My question to you is: Why would I?
If it is automatically assumed that I have to make a concerted effort to make people believe I’m not a bigot, more than an atheist would, then you have your answer. And you have also, internalized bigotry that you should probably work to get rid of.