Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dropping the Bomb

The Executive Officer, on his/her blog Executive Outcomes, has drawn a link between Muslim women and suicide bombings! Hey, I’ll bet no one’s ever though of that before! Oh, wait. Forbes did.

Muslim women don’t have enough negative stereotypes associated with us…thank you for adding one more! “Hey, everyone. Guess what? Not only are Muslim women submissive, passive, and oppressed…but they’re also dangerous, too! Don’t pay attention to the fact that these stereotypes contradict each other--just pay attention to this inflammatory rhetoric! You might get blown up!”

The idea that all Muslim women are inherently capable of violent retaliation is racist (under the assertion that only Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslims commit these crimes) and Islamophobic; no one ever thinks twice about female victims of other nationalities or religions when they have survived a war or forced exile, no one ever cautions us to “watch out for them; they might blow you up later!”

Need an example?

  • Japanese women—after bombings of Nagasaki, did they seek to build atomic bombs to drop on America? Do they seek revenge now?
  • Rwandan women—after the Hutus and Tutsis slayed each other, do you think either side thought that the wives of the dead men or the daughters of the dead mothers would avenge their loved ones?
  • Jewish women—the survivors of the Holocaust, specifically. Do they seek violent redress for their suffering, for all the family members and loved ones they lost?*

Besides, the majority of the victims of the Bosnian war were Muslim women; do they blow themselves up now, almost a decade later? And do rural Afghan women—arguably the most disenfranchised in the entire region—blow themselves up? No!

But wait! Didn’t you know that Muslim women really just blow themselves up because they’re sex-crazed? Here's my favorite quote from the blog:

“In addition to the anger and revenge motives frequently seen in other female suicide bombers, the Muslim concept of martyrdom involves the forgiveness of all sins and immediate entrance into paradise, so
suicide bombing often is seen as an avenue to atone for the shame and sins of an extramarital affair or out-of-wedlock pregnancy (my emphasis).

So guess what? Not only are we passive and dangerous, but we’re shameful sluts, too!

On a different note, these articles simply create more fear instead of understanding. Everyone rushes to blame, condemn, and vilify these suicide bombers. They are not wrong in their condemnation: suicide and killing innocents are both sins in Islam, and the majority of Muslim communities see violence in the name of our religion as abhorrent, myself included. Let me repeat that: This blog condemns suicide bombing, no matter who’s at the helm or what's at stake.

But understanding why these women (or people) blow themselves up is better than rushing to push them further away from society than they already are. These people feel alone, endangered, disenfranchised, abandoned, and mistreated. If we can understand their views and figure out why they’re unhappy, it’s a lot easier to help remedy the situation. If we push them further away, they feel justified in their hurt feelings and believe that they’re making the right choice.

*Note: Comments about Israel will not be published. We’re not discussing politics; we’re discussing race and religion.