Read any article mentioning Islam, and one is bound to see comments proclaiming to know the “truth” about Muslims, as though there exists a singular, absolute truth about Muslims. As discrimination against American Muslims rises, so does the mindset that Muslims aren't individuals but part of some homogeneous, conspiracy-driven collective. There's no singular definition of what it means to be Muslim — or to be Christian or Jewish or any other religion. We treat crimes from the majority as symptoms of criminal sickness, but crimes by Muslims we think are due to their religion. Yet history clearly tells us that violence is a human condition; no one group has a monopoly on it.
Before we demonize the entire American Muslim community, let's first take the planks out of our own eyes. The truth about American Muslims isn't difficult to find. We scour blogs and best-sellers to discover who Muslims really are, but to know the truth about American Muslims, just look around. Oklahoma Muslims are academics, law enforcement officers, doctors, artists and teachers. They're fashion enthusiasts, or country music connoisseurs, or Oklahoma City Thunder fans. They're as normal and as unique as any other sampling of our society.
We should take the time to ask American Muslims what they believe before we put words in their mouths. They're raising their voices to tell us the truth about who they are. We just need to listen.
Jillian Holzbauer, Oklahoma City
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