I’m a special kind of fat. The kind that’s visible from space. The kind that makes seat belts earn their keep. The kind that turns a shirt button into a propelled object by inhaling too hard.
But I’m not ashamed. Not because I’m self-confident, mind you. I’m actually not ashamed because my shame quota is already full. I am not being “fat-shamed” or “socially awkward-shamed” or “questionable personal hygiene-shamed,” by the way.
I am being Muslim-shamed.
Now let me preface this by saying I’m not being shamed by the people who call me Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who tell me that we all need to be kept under surveillance, who find jokes about shooting Muslims funny.
Those people, my friends, are not the shamers; they are the ‘phobes. I would have called them Islamaphobes but they seemed to have claimed that word too. Yes, “Islamphobia-phobia” is now a legit thing and is literally defined as “someone who is upset for being called a bigot after saying bigoted things.”
A phobia within a phobia, by the way, is called “phobinception” and it describes the state when the rate of hate slows down considerably. If you can plant a bigoted idea here, it gets permanently embedded into somebody’s mind while also getting snubbed at the Oscars.
So, yes, these are the ‘phobes and my only reaction to them is this:
The shamers, the ones I’m not flipping off, are a different category. The shamer is, as Websters defines it, “an otherwise unhateful individual who expects Muslims to take responsibility for the actions of someone they have never met, someone they do not identify with and someone whose beliefs they do not share.”
Yes, it sounds ridiculous when it’s spelled out, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is what Muslims have to put up with in addition to the ‘phobes.
Many folks, in their honey-sweet, Mary Poppins accent will come up to me, or a similarly situated Muslim (aka, a “normal” one), and ask, “Do you condemn the acts of violence that are done in the name of your religion?” The answer, of course, is a question: Does Steven Spielberg condemn Phil Spector for committing murder? What, you never asked him? But they’re both film producers!
However, because I’m such a jovial individual, I don’t give that response. I just tell my shamers, “Yes, because you may not have noticed, but I’m kinda susceptible to explosions myself and, as any kind human being, I don’t like to see people killed.”
It also helps me gain perspective that both the countries I’ve ever called home—America and Pakistan — have been hit hard by terrorism. So trust me, I know why it’s bad and why it should be condemned.
So once people believe me that I’m not here to be the next Darkseid, the logical next step becomes, “Then you should be at the forefront of condemning terrorism.” I don’t know; I thought explicitly speaking out against such violence was a condemnation and living a good, clean life was a testament to said condemnation.
That should be enough, right?
Actually, I have to do more. I, just like every other “true American Muslim,” have to look at why people keep “getting radicalized.” I have to omit the passages in the Quran and Hadees that get “too extreme.” I have to change my outlook and my approach to my religion. I have to feel ashamed.
Well, I’m not doing that.
I’m not apologizing for the actions of someone I never met, never knew, never supported. I am not changing how I see my religion because someone cited it during a crime. I am not changing my religious texts because someone used them to justify burying a baby girl, burning down a school or blowing up innocents.
And then we come back to the old, “but that is what your religion says.” Oops, sorry; accidentally slipped back into the ‘phobes category. My apologies, shamers.
I’m not saying all this for the ‘phobes because I know they are — in the truest sense of the word — unchangeable-hate-mongers (which is not a “word” in the truest sense of the word, but hyphens correct-ify anything).
Instead, I am saying this to the folks that may have accidentally drifted into “shamer land.” If you’re going to take one thing away from this piece, have a little faith in the Muslims you know and see every day. Trust their interpretation of the religion and its texts more than you trust some hateful lunatic with a bomb.
We react to this violence exactly as you do; it’s unfair and judgmental to ask for more.
My cousin in Pakistan recently survived a suicide blast. He was literally footsteps away from the explosion that killed 40 other people. The terrorist claimed to be Muslim; the people that died actually were Muslim. As should have been expected, both my cousin and I condemned that blast, and we’re both also Muslim. Shaming us does not help.
Either way, all I can say is, I really do need to go on a diet.