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Stereotyping is Another Form of Bullying

Updated on March 4, 2014

Mocking Muslims is a Regular Pastime in American Society

Why is it OK to bad mouth Muslims, any Muslim person or group, stranger or acquaintance or coworker, bus or cab driver, shopkeeper and more?

To stereotype Muslims online, on cable news programs, radio shows, on social media, based on lies and rumors and Islamophobic diatribes, movies, videos and gossip?

The only answer is: it is NOT!

I was born in America, albeit into a Territory of the United States that eventually gained statehood in my teenage years. I looked like the majority peoples, spoke without a foreign accent, practiced the majority holidays, and understood that we had a position of honor because we deserved it - smart, determined, hard-working, educated as we were, possessing all the good traits. Well, that was how it seemed to a child's mind, but it didn't set well with me.

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS copyright 2013 by Leslie Sinclair - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - no use permitted

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This is an Enlightening Read About Stereotyping Muslims

Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World
Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World

You may value the explanations presented in this text about how we in the west learn to view Muslims and Islam.

Amazon Reviews are lengthy and wide ranging so you can get a perspective on how this book is received.

 

Detail From my Queen Isabella Painting © 1990

My Childhood

During the 50s I heard adults slam Germans (living in Germany or descendants of Germans born in America), Japanese and Koreans for causing World War II, the Korean War, and the state of fear and change in the United States of their birth. Then I learned that it was alright, even funny, to mock people of old world religions who practiced habits that didn't make sense to my family.

It even shocked me early on to hear people important to me puff themselves up and polish us off like a gilded species, in contrast with a people dumb enough to be enslaved and hauled across the Pacific Ocean to build our marvelous national railways, and even farther back in time - to the indigenous peoples who welcomed our ancestors to this continent centuries ago, people gullible enough to think we'd give them their due respect.

Humor Camouflaged Prejudice

So I grew up infused with the acceptance of prejudice and bigotry as the way it was in our land of the free.

We Americans have always been a rather exclusive group, seeking release from the religious prejudice and bigotry in the old countries and proclaiming a freedom of religion on the continent we stole from the first peoples who already called it home.

We learned by osmosis that these Native Americans, who lived in sync with the land they regarded as a loan from the Creator, didn't get it; we were destined by virtue to rule this land.

Whenever my conscience developed it prickled with each new realization that other peoples weren't given the same level of respect I inherited due to the notion of white privilege that frosted the cakes of our lives.

The little me shriveled a bit inside whenever I overheard the leader of a great religion being the butt of some elders' jokes, or when another religious body was made out to be an evil of a different sort, or when foreigners with a darker skin color or a remarkable facial structure were nicknamed in a smart-alecky way.

I Shed My Protected Status for My Beliefs

After graduate school, after raising a family, I refined my religious beliefs.

With my conversion from one to another of the great monotheistic religions, I was suddenly plucked out of the privileged white class.

I was plunked down into the burlap bag of foreign-like minority. Now this became obvious only because I added one thing to my style of dress - a headscarf.

I simply wore it with my already long and loose clothing, and overnight people in my neighborhood could no longer see the ordinary me. Now that was well over a decade ago and one would think that I'd be accustomed to my new place in the social order.

But the macho mentality, as portrayed in the bottom left of the detail of my painting, had lessons to teach me about who's in and who's out.

How Institutionalized Bullying Feels

But somedays, like today, I feel again like the little child who winces inside when others bandy about the name of my religion with the same sort of suspicion and dismay that I observed in the power figures of my childhood - as if it's a blessed thing to do. It troubles me that in the year 2013 people are so callous that it's easy for them to be oblivious to the way they privilege people like them over people like me, or over any other people that are different from them.

The detail from a 1990 painting of mine depicts a disabled person in a wheelchair who observes a vibrant young horse prancing in youthful joy on the chair tray, a simple metaphor for the way our fresh young souls suffer the crippling pollution of bigotry when we fail to examine our prejudices.

The headscarf reference was a giveaway

I'm writing about the institutionalization of bullying where the term Muslim is used in conversation or statement.

I can't help but ask the question:

why is it fine and normal for social media groups to chat within their huge groups about Muslims as if they are one big cohesive group - one the same as the other - and all representative of the truths about Islam?

Liberty for Me Too?

Photographs Are All Details From My Paintings

Questions We Might Consider if We Want to Break Stereotypes About Muslims in 2013

Why does anyone stoop so low as to suck up the lies vomiting forth from hateful cable News?

Why does anyone still cling to the fallacy that Saddam Hussein caused the planes to crash into the buildings and onto that great green field?

Why do otherwise gentle smiling grandmotherly women shout long and loudly "Hero! Hero!" on the heads of American military members who fired brain popping missiles at family wedding celebrations?

Why do we think it is heroic to take megaton aircraft to decimate the lives of innocent children and their families, and praise those flyers' success in hitting the targets and flying back home unscathed themselves? Who do we think they are killing - the 9/11 bombers are already dead.

I think I have the answer.

We are killing that little child self in me, the self that inhabits the hearts of our babies, our tots, our children, our kids, our youth, until they unwrap the gift of the difference-between-us-and-others.

Our young ones are purely beautiful souls who see people as creatures to love if they're exposed to loving instead of cruelty.

But if we teach them the art of Ridicule, then they learn its companion skills: mockery, bullying, and disrespect.

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    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      This is a powerful and honest lens. I particularly like this statement: "Why is it fine and normal for social media groups to chat within their huge groups about Muslims as if they are one big cohesive group - one the same as the other - and all representative of the truths about Islam?" Each person is an individual and rarely representative (or maybe it's never) of any groups they may be a part of, religious or otherwise. It's insecurity and ignorance that causes people to mock others - people are trying to feel good about their own stupidity by slandering others. I say bigotry needs to be buried very, very deep in the cold, cold ground.

    • lesliesinclair profile image
      Author

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @TanoCalvenoa: Thank you sincerely. It was tough to write because some of us seldom want to admit that we might see others as less than what we deem they need to be, in the pictures we may hold of them - in our desire to remain comfortable, ourselves. Thank you again.

    • lesliesinclair profile image
      Author

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: I'm gratified to know that it resonates with others. After living with this stereotyping and bullying for the 12 years since the dreadful event that set Americans on edge I just had to write about it.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      I agree 100 percent. It shocks me daily to see that prejudice seems to have become a very public statement made with pride in their beliefs. Man as a unit has not matured all that much. It is very sad the stereotyping that still exists and is reenforced as acceptable behavior.

    • lesliesinclair profile image
      Author

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @Lady Lorelei: And for many people it's even hard to agree with an article like this because so many friends, family members and others in their groups are so flagrant about showing their own bias. Thanks for sharing.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      Prejudice is an awful thing. I live in Northern Ireland and see prejudice daily.

    • lesliesinclair profile image
      Author

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @RoadMonkey: You're so right. Is it still the same old thing that cause all the terror so many years ago? Deep down we are all human beings, and most of those religious divides are not really religious in origin anyway. Usually they are over power struggles for land and jobs, and get handed down to the next generations.

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      We see it all around the news, which is usually bad most times and it's contagious if we don't SEE which this lens help bring this subject matter to our attention. Say no to PREJUDICE !

    • lesliesinclair profile image
      Author

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @Minoru10: So true! Strife and conflict seem to grease the wheels of the media because it's so exciting, and appears to thrill some networks.

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