A few weeks ago I was watching the news when the story of a fourteen-year-old boy in Irving, Texas, was arrested and interrogated for bringing a homemade clock to school. His name is Ahmed Mohamed.
As I sat watching this story I couldn’t help but think, what if he was white? What if he had a ‘good Christian’ name? What if his pa was a ‘good old boy’ that everyone knew? I thought he wouldn’t have been arrested—he would have possibly gotten a pat on the back and been told what a smart boy he was for building a working clock all on his own. Then I said to myself: that’s just the times we live in now.
It’s easy to look back at things like 9/11 and everywhere there has been monstrous acts of hate committed, and tell ourselves that’s why we react this way to a 14-year old’s science project. The truth is that these acts were committed by extremists with agendas. Not every Muslim is an extremist. What I don’t understand is why we don’t view every Christian with a cautious eye? Always wondering when they are going to blow up their next abortion clinic? The answer is, of course, because not every Christian is an extremist. But for some reason we are not able to see it that way with Muslims.
When Republican presidential primary candidate Ben Carson was asked if he would vote for a Muslim president he said no, because Islam isn’t just a religion, it’s a political-social ideology with strict rules for people, and does not support the separation of church and state. I find that hilarious. In the current presidential campaign there are plenty of religious extremists, all of them Christians, including Ben Carson. The candidates themselves should be forced to place the Constitution before their religions and see how they fare in the campaign without pandering to their constituents about gay marriage and abortion.
In this time of extreme acts I am simply making a point: it’s easy to define one group in its entirety as our enemies, but the reality is that there is evil, ignorance, and stupidity everywhere. I refuse to let those in power dictate to me that their enemies should also be mine.
This post is published as part of the Prison Op/Ed Project, an occasional series authored by CCRI sociology students who are incarcerated at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute.