Sympathy for one group – but not the other?

I had a conversation this week and, in trying to make a point to the person with whom I was speaking, these two narratives popped into my head, almost fully formed before I even wrote them down:

muslim and police woman

I am a Muslim. I love being a Muslim. So much of my identity is based in being a part of Islam. I love the camaraderie and fellowship of other Muslims. I make no apologies for that.

I understand that many people are afraid of me. That makes me sad, and, at times, very defensive, even angry.

It is completely unfair that people assume all Muslims are bad because of the violent acts of a small minority of Muslims in the USA. The vast majority of Muslims are good people who care deeply about their communities, they want to contribute positively to such, and they want all people to live in peace. Yes, there are Muslims that do not respect human rights and that have done horrible, violent, reprehensible things in the USA, like:

But I should not have to publicly condemn such acts of violence over and over and over. The assumption shouldn’t be made that I support these events just because I’m a Muslim.

We’ve seen social media posts and videos of Muslims, some of them considered leaders by other Muslims, celebrating or trying to justify these violent acts. But I shouldn’t have to apologize because an Iman with thousands of followers excuses or even promotes these violations of human rights. I want to be judged by my character and actions, not those of others.

I’m proud of my hijab, and when you see me in it, please don’t automatically assume that I am a bad person and that I am your enemy. Please talk to me. Get to know me. I welcome the conversations.

I am a police officer. I love being a police officer. So much of my identity is based in being a police officer. I love the camaraderie and fellowship of other officers. I make no apologies for that.

I understand that many people are afraid of me. That makes me sad, and, at times, very defensive, even angry.

It is completely unfair that people assume all police officers are bad because of the violent acts of a small minority of police officers in the USA. The vast majority of police officers are good people who care deeply about their communities, they want to contribute positively to such, and they want all people to live in peace. Yes, there are police officers that do not respect human rights and that have done horrible, violent, reprehensible things in the USA, like:

But I should not have to publicly condemn such acts of violence over and over and over. The assumption shouldn’t be made that I support these events just because I’m a police officer.

We’ve seen social media posts and videos of police officers, some of them considered leaders by other police, celebrating or trying to justify these violent acts. But I shouldn’t have to apologize because a police union with thousands of members excuses or even promotes these violations of human rights. I want to be judged by my character and actions, not those of others.

I’m proud of my uniform, and when you see me in it, please don’t automatically assume that I am a bad person and that I am your enemy. Please talk to me. Get to know me. I welcome the conversations.

These two groups are so similarly demonized, but I never realized it until the morning of the day I originally drafted this. Both of these groups can say the same thing, almost word-for-word, about how they are negatively perceived by many people.

There are going to be people who are going to read one column and totally agree – and read the other column and be outraged. There are those that believe all Muslims are potential terrorists because of the acts of a minority, but would never believe all police are potentially racist because of the acts of a minority of members. And vice versa.

If you read this and felt sympathy for one group, but not for the other, I hope you will think long and hard about why that is.

Comments are welcomed, unless such use what I consider misinformation or hate-based language.

Also see:

5 thoughts on “Sympathy for one group – but not the other?

  1. jcravens Post author

    Thanks to you both! To be honest, I’ve found myself being very hard on one group, but not another. And this personal revelation regarding my own prejudice played a big role in my writing this.

    Reply
  2. Cat

    I feel differently about the two groups because police have power over me and Muslims don’t.

    Police start out with their fellow police, the court system, and the local elected officials on their side. The occasional “bad apple” Muslim might be able to hurt me, but if they do, the police and the courts won’t automatically assume I am at fault and punish me a second time. That is not true of a “bad apple” policeman.

    So I’m much more worried about bad policemen than bad Muslims. And I think this is perfectly reasonable on my part.

    Reply
    1. jcravens Post author

      You have the right to be afraid of anyone. I have associates that are afraid of Muslims because those associates served in the military and their only encounters with Muslims was in combat situations and in very hostile situations. I would never tell them their fear was unreasonable, just as I wouldn’t to someone who lost a family member, friend or colleague in New York City on September 11, 2001. It’s not a fear I have, but I don’t question it in people who have had those personal, first-hand experiences.

      I’m sure there are things I’m afraid of that you would not be able to relate to, and vice versa. This blog isn’t a challenge to say one group is better than another – or even exactly the same. I’m just trying to point out that we all – myself included – tend to have double standards regarding who we demonize and whom we defend, and it’s important to consider that. As I said, both of these groups can say the same thing, almost word-for-word, about how they are negatively perceived by many people – there’s no denying that. My blog isn’t debunking anyone’s fear as much as it’s a call for some understanding and some introspection.

      Reply

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