Day 4 – Fear, Faith, Fundamentalism, and Doubt (part 1 of 2)


(This post is part of the 30 for 30 challenge)

This past Saturday I was traveling home back west from the east coast, and witnessed a rather unsettling encounter between a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, and what I would call your typical, “angry white man”.  It was a busy day at the airport (the day after Christmas), so tensions were already a bit high, and the seating areas at the gates quite full.  The woman found an empty seat and set her backpack on the ground in front of it.  She then walked across to the other side of the terminal to throw something away.  When she walked back thirty seconds later, an “angry white man” accosted her saying, “Is this your bag?!  You should know better given this environment that people dressed like you can’t just leave things laying around like this at an airport.  You should be more careful!”  Thankfully, this incident happened near the check-in desk, so an airline employee quickly put an end to the verbal assult, and put the “angry white man” squarely in his place.  The Muslim woman gathered her things quietly and quickly, and moved to a far corner of the seating area.

I felt nothing short of mortified.  I was embarrassed both for her in that terribly awkward situation, and for myself to witness such bigotry.  I was repulsed that this is how people that look like me (i.e., white men) think they can treat a complete stranger at the airport for doing absolutely nothing wrong.  I wanted to stop the poor woman as she walked by to reassure her that, “We’re not ALL assholes, I promise.”  I didn’t go that far, but I thought about it.  All I could muster was a scathing stare towards the “angry white man” as I smoldered in my seat.

After getting on the plane, and again sneering at the “angry white man” again as he passed me in the aisle(thankfully taking a seat back near the toilets where he belongs), I couldn’t help but ponder why all this had been able to happen.  What has shifted in our current cultural/political climate that allows a man to feel righteous in making such a terrible judgement against some poor, innocent woman? Is the old adage “you reap what you sow” applicable here?…or perhaps something akin to “what you put in, you get out.”?  Hmmmmm….. I wonder…

INPUT……
….OUTPUT

The most intuitive answer, as I’m sure many of you are thinking right now, is the current climate of fear we live in in America, and the western world.  Fear perpetrated not only by terrorists, but also by our political leaders.  In the United States, we are currently living in a political landscape where the scapegoating of entire ethnic and religious groups (i.e., Mexicans and Muslims) for any and all problems facing this country (stagnating wages, poverty, healthcare costs, terrorism) is seemingly more acceptable than ever.

This current perfect storm of realities – negativity, political cynicism, ambivalence, stupidity, arrogance, fundamentalist thought (both religious and otherwise), are all coming together in a veritable shit storm of very scary political rhetoric, and consequentially, increasingly more extreme behavior of U.S. citizens towards one another.

Is there something missing from today’s discourse that allows people to behave this way, and not only get away with it, but applauded for it? Fear? Yes.  Fundamentalist thinking? Of course. But what is at the crux of it all?

In part two of this post (which I will post tomorrow come hell or high water!), I’ll talk about what I heard on the radio this past Sunday morning that added so much clarity to this whole conundrum of fundamentalist certainty that currently plagues our greater collective thought.

Stay tuned!

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Author: Zack Hayhurst

New Yorker enthusiast, cartoon caption contest contender, book hoarder, cultural omnivore, writer

4 thoughts on “Day 4 – Fear, Faith, Fundamentalism, and Doubt (part 1 of 2)”

  1. Islam is NOT a religion of peace!
    It has a long history that has its roots in Islamic doctrine that calls for aggression in the name of Allah and for Islam.
    It is written in the Quran to force submission to Islam.
    One early incidence involved the United States of America when it was still very young.

    “In March 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to London to negotiate with Tripoli’s envoy, ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). When they enquired “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury”, the ambassador replied:”

    “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”
    We fought the Barbary Wars and formed our first navy just for this purpose. “From the shores of Tripoli ” ,that famous line from the US Marines theme song, commemorates the first battle of the US Marines.

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    1. Thank you for your comments. However, my post is in no way about the validity of one religion over another, nor is it about the violent tenants of Islam. Yes, there are passages in the Quran, as in the Old and New Testaments that call for violence against the infidel (or non-believe) – whatever you want to call them. My point in the post was not to argue for the acceptance of any religious doctrine. Perhaps you misunderstood? Instead, the point of my post, which you will see in Part 2, is to point out the fact that we are living in a time where fundamentalist thinking, of all types, is ruling the collective mind. Whether it be fundamentalist Islamist people, or Christians, or fundamentalist warmongers, all of the voices doing the most damage to any chance of a rational discourse about the issues are getting way too much play.

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      1. You sound reasonable. You are using the word fundamentalist. It refers to the most basic or fundamental core beliefs. In Christianity that is to love God and love people, for He fashioned us in His image. In Islam, look no further than the name “Islam”, which is an unconditional command to “submit”, as the name Islam is translated.
        The core or greatest beliefs of Islam are all commands that if refuted, Islam demands death in this life and will not forgive in the next.

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