Resisting Fear Mongering
Why we must call it out when we see it.
I was recently defriended on Facebook by a person I really like. The problem was that she had become seduced by fear mongering and I, and others, were challenging her on it and calling her out on it. Mostly because it’s really so unlike her to engage in the promotion of such fear.
Her latest was the fear that a Muslim will become president. Why is this fear mongering? Because, at the moment, there is no Muslim running for president. It’s a non-issue. We aren’t in “danger” of having a Muslim president for at least 5 more years. Probably longer though given that there are so few Muslims holding political office at the moment and it takes time to build up support for a presidential run.
So why was my otherwise rational and compassionate friend all worked up and worried that Americans might elect an openly Muslim president and how that would destroy America if we did given that even if you wanted to, you couldn’t vote for a Muslim for president because there aren’t any running? I have no idea but I suspect it has to do with where she is getting her political news from.
Fear mongering only works if people become afraid. And making people afraid of things that aren’t true, ie: irrational fear, only works if people aren’t told the truth, which is that what you are afraid of isn’t something to be afraid of.
Of course, that’s the theory. Anyone who has tried to calm a frightened child by showing them that there is no monster under the bed will tell you, reason doesn’t work to combat irrational fear. It’s irrational, not rational!
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call it out when we see it. This is especially so given how often the political right is demonizing brown skinned Muslims at the moment.
Challenging the demonization and dehumanization of brown skinned Americans is a civic duty. I liken it to being an upstander confronting a bully. A bully will dehumanize their victim to groom the victim for future violence. If a bully is challenged and the victim brought into the circle of compassion as fully human, it makes it harder for the bully to harm their victim.
In this case, we have a political party dehumanizing and demonizing brown skinned Muslims. Iif we allow it to continue, they will, like all bullies do, eventually escalate to violence. Every time we call out the racism, we are helping to push back against religious and racial discrimination and bullying.
Keep in mind, the brown skin is important because this isn’t simply religious discrimination, it’s also racial. And this also affects all people of color. If they can demonize one group of brown skinned individuals, they can dehumanize all of them. We have to speak up and do our part to make it clear – racism and discrimination based on religion or race or gender isn’t acceptable. Ever!