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I read a news story today about the owner of a shooting range who declared the business Muslim-free. Her concern was that some Muslim patrons had been acting oddly, but also that she couldn't tell the difference between good Muslims and those that were ISIS connected and might practice retaliation or honor killings.

The reference to honor killings was just bizarre. It just wouldn't apply to someone whose actions would impinge your honor, like family. But setting that aside, and trying hard not to pull a Godwin here, but that wasn't even the weirdest part. The woman went on to say Islam wasn't a religion, it was a theocracy.

I get saying Islam is a philosophy or political movement. I mean, that's wring but it's at least coherent. But how exactly do you get a theocracy when you're dealing with dozens of governments with vastly different histories and political styles? And without having a religion to impose?

Also, that thing about being unable to tell good guys with guns from bad guys with guns?

I'd like to be upset over this idiocy, but it's so incoherent on so many different levels, I can't muster anything more than a weak eye roll. Time to step up your game, bigots.

(BTW, thanks to everyone who commented on the feminism post. I read your thoughts and mean to reply, as soon as I can find the time.)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
Man, that is weird. I hate hearing about stuff like this, especially the homogenizing of the diverse cultures and religious traditions within Islam, as you mention, and the division into "good" and "bad" Muslims.

Whenever I hear about stuff like this, I automatically think not only of my own friends and colleagues who are Muslim, but as a Jewish person, I also knee-jerk think, "What would this sound like if someone said X about Jews [Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, other religious minorities]"

I would say that someone like the owner was kooky enough to render her harmless, but then again, she almost certainly owns firearms?

Oct. 1st, 2014 04:53 am (UTC)
I think that's the thing about being a minority (which, to be clear, as a mainline Protestant I hardly qualify here!): you have those experiences to pull on. They make you more empathetic I think. It's a good question to ask, no doubt.

I'd expect her to own guns. Firing range owners tend to be gun owners themselves (naturally enough) in my experience. And I think on some level I really should be upset. I don't use that word bigot lightly, but her willingness to make this jump to all Muslims... I don't know any other word for people that would make those assumptions against whole classes of people. It's damned insulting, actually, and I'm not the one being insulted, except to the extent that anti-Muslim bigotry in the wake of 9/11 hits a bit close to home as a New Yorker. But that's not the biggest insult by far in this story.

I almost wish that was my only reaction. It feels wrong that I'm almost amused by all this, at least at one level. (Hardly the only reaction I had, but still.) I keep hearing Inigo Montoya's line about "You keep using those words. I don't think they mean what you think they mean." (Or whatever the precise wording is.) And folks with these kinds of attitudes are scary, particularly when they have access to guns. But mostly it just seems bizarrely pitiful.
Oct. 1st, 2014 03:24 am (UTC)
Legally she's on shaky ground, as that's definitely discrimination. Morally it's wrong, but I'm afraid her description as the owner of a shooting range has set off some of my own prejudices and biases, as I automatically picture her as ignorant, uneducated and right-wing. (Which isn't a good thing on my part. She may just be frightened, which is why she's incoherent.)

I think the terrorists are winning right now--the fear they monger, their seemingly random choice of targets and violence, even their latest methods (beheadings! Somehow that seems even worse than shooting!) have caused us to react in fear and allow our gov't to erode our rights even worse than immediately post 9/11.

If their violence causes us to give up all the freedoms they oppose then the victory is theirs.
Oct. 1st, 2014 05:07 am (UTC)
Very well said.

It is horrible to hear of things like this.
Oct. 1st, 2014 05:20 am (UTC)
Agreed, on both counts! Barbara, I got a bit weighed down in the details, but your reaction really touched me and I think I agree.
Oct. 1st, 2014 01:22 pm (UTC)
What makes me try to see her fear is an event that occurred right here in OK. Of course, it's obvious that this guy did not have an actual terrorist agenda: he was pursuing a personal grudge. But by using the methods of the terrorists, he's ramped up the atmosphere significantly. And there's no doubt at all that he was inspired by terrorists. I can see someone having an irrational reaction to things like this and thinking that a step like this might at least feel like she's doing something to keep safer. Of course it's not, and it's a very useless and superficial reaction.

But you are right too--it could be a way to garner business from other frightened people who want to learn to shoot guns to protect themselves from supposed terrorists.

Or to make a name for themselves by shooting someone in "self-defense" a la George Zimmerman and several others in the last year or so.

This country SO needs some decent gun control laws.

Oct. 1st, 2014 05:20 am (UTC)
I poked around a bit online tonight and it looks like whether her action was illegal turns on whether Islam is a religion. And I get that that's the idea she's rejecting, so maybe you could make the claim that she clearly didn't think she was violating their civil rights, though she seems to be doing just that. Generally, you can't exclude people from your business because you don't like their religion, though you can if they're doing some behavior that threatens our business or the other patrons even if it's religiously mandated. And I don't know a court in the country that would agree with her on Islam =/= a religion - by the definition of religion in federal law, at least, Islam certainly qualifies. Maybe if she restricted it to a certain political belief (say, no Islamists allowed or no one affiliated with ISIS allowed - though even there those statements seem pretty immoral to me) she'd be on firmer ground. But as far as I can tell, the way she put it, she doesn't have a legal ground to stand on.

Though that's hardly the point. The lawyers will fight over this one; the more important point is morally it's pretty downright awful. What worries me is that she may be doing this not because she's really concerned, but because she thinks it will be good for business, that it's a good way to be popular with her customers and maybe drive up business. I honestly don't know which is worse, the thought that she would think in such broad terms about all Muslims or the thought that she'd make a comment like this even when she didn't. Either turns my stomach more than a bit. It's just nasty behavior to make that kind of assumption about whole classes of people.

I'll admit, I had those same assumptions jump to mind. I should probably try to fight them; she may really be this scared, and depending on the circles she runs in she may be stuck in a bit of a wind tunnel that encourages that fear. I do think we have her words and her level of understanding of what she's talking about (her fears just don't match up with what the terms and concepts she's concerned about actually are) to justify some assumptions, and making assumptions about a single individual person is a pretty different thing than painting a large group with a broad brush like she is. But you're right, it's no good to jump to conclusions from stereotypes we may have.
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