Humans are created equal and must be treated equally. This is a basic and familiar teaching of moralists, ethicists and world’s religions. Above all, it is a prerequisite concept for sentient and spiritual creatures like ourselves, in order to enjoy personal peace of mind and to uphold peace with justice at the national and global levels.
To discriminate among ourselves on the basis of race or religion is an ugly human behaviour which should be instinctively exposed and rejected. Through education and political activism — especially the latter — there is still hope in our time to reduce the enormous human suffering caused by both racism and religionism.
Thus, it is not enough for Muslims to continually insist that Islam is a religion of peace. It is not enough to deny religionist accusations that Islam was spread by the sword, or that Muslims are not terrorists, extremists, radicals, or militants, etc.
Instead, through concentrated political activism, and working with fair-minded people of all backgrounds, there is hope that racism and militant religionism can be exposed for what they are and eradicated from our midst.
Self-hating religionists and racists are the worst of a bad lot, as they usually spearhead negative campaigns against their own communities. They are comparable to the often-despised black "house slaves" who would safeguard their comparatively privileged status by defending their racist masters and blaming less-fortunate members of their enslaved people as victims of their own inferiority. There are still plenty of those "house slaves" around in 2005 and today, you definitely do not have to be black to be treated as the historical "field nigger."
Consider the following list:
1. The Ontario government guaranteed religious groups certain rights for more than 10 years, including the right of having their faith based arbitrations recognized by the courts. But when Ontario Muslims recently asked to be granted the same rights, Ontario’s premier suddenly turned an about-face: No way! implied Dalton McGuinty. We would rather take away the rights of everyone else than give Muslims equal rights with Christians and Jews. Some misguided Muslims cheered the Ontario government and congratulated themselves.
2. The Quebec Assembly passed a motion sponsored by a Muslim MLA who did not speak for the majority of her people. Muslims were singled out in a move to reject Islamic mediation and arbitration in Quebec, and even in all of Canada. The motion did not reflect what Quebec Muslims wanted from their government which is nothing — it reflected only what one individual and her supporters wanted; they proclaimed themselves so loudly, no one else was heard.
Why is this happening to Canadian Muslims? The answer is, because of they lack political activism. Lack of education is secondary here, since these religionists and their supporters are not interested in knowledge — they don’t care to know, for example, that the application of Sharia (Islamic Law) in family matters is continuously evolving to suit the time and place of modern society, even more so than the Jewish Halakah code.
3. Why did Jewish settlers, recently evicted from their illegally occupied land in Gaza, receive far more media coverage, political attention and public sympathy than neighbouring Palestinians who have suffered under Israeli restrictions and harassment for close to 40 years? Those Jewish settlers were not pioneers roughing it in a barren land — they lived at Canadian middle-class standards in beautiful spacious seafront homes, with playgrounds and a sophisticated infrastructure, all the while protected by a modern well-equipped occupation army. Why was so little of the impoverished Palestinians’ suffering brought to TV viewers in North America over the past four decades? This is about as ugly and insidious as racism and religionism get.
4. What do you say to Iraqis who maintain now that "I was not worse off under Saddam Hussain." Conversely, what do you say to the many more Iraqis who’ve lost all forms of personal security and do not even know if they will get home dead or alive today? Such questions were clearly absent from the agenda of George W. Bush when he invaded Iraq. Why is it so easy to believe from news reports and White House policies that the lives of Americans (even those sent to be cannon-fodder in a misguided war) are somehow more valuable than those of Iraqis?
5. Why have most Western nations thrown away the fruit of their long struggle toward human rights by recently enacting draconian anti-terrorist laws, instead of on relying on existing criminal codes? Why could the British government fight Irish terrorism using its time-honoured criminal code, but suddenly introduce sweeping new anti-terrorist laws following 7/7?
Why is Britain, the world’s oldest continuous democracy, now outlawing “radical” Muslim organizations and deporting “extremist” clerics, after having allowed the free expression of politically dissident voices even during the First and Second World Wars?
6. Why is Canada adopting — without judicial approval — the discriminatory practice of using a no-fly list to target certain Canadians? And why in this instance, as in so many others, are Canadian Muslims not protected by this country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
7. Why are historical wrongs against people of different races or religions not addressed, admitted and corrected? In the 1800s in Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Belgium, people of all classes were united in welcoming colonial / imperial expansion in Africa and Asia for economic reasons, which included imposing on others the "superiority" of their European race and religion. During the same time period the United States was looking across the Pacific as well as southward to the Caribbean. And in Palestine, Zionists and their supporters were preparing to give a land "without people" (indigenous people didn’t count!) to a people who claimed to be without land. Only a few "radical" critics questioned the justice of any of these racist religionist policies.
Again, my answer to all these questions is that these things are happening because Muslims are not politically active enough — if at all.
Hobbes’ Third Law of politics states that there is a direct correspondence between the ruler and the ruled. This means that where a ruler leads, the ruled will fall in step along the same path. But Hobbes’ Law also works inversely; whoever is to rule a certain people must rule them as s/he wishes to be ruled. Both parts of this law can be practiced consciously or unconsciously.
Hobbes maintained that the inverse of his law would most likely happen when the "unpolitical stupidity of the ruled" fails to impose limits on how their rulers can influence them. That is why I believe that through political activism first, and education a close second, there is hope to limit the vast scourge of human suffering that results directly from racism and religionism.