“American Culture,” Burqa Bans, and the Need to Embrace the Other

screenshot-2016-12-08-09-06-26What I should’ve been doing this morning was preparing for the meeting I have in an hour, or working on my paper that’s due tomorrow, or studying for the Hebrew exam I have tomorrow. I did none of these things. Instead I decided to read the paper, and, as has happened before, I came across something which pissed me off. Maybe my problem is just that I read the Letters to the Editor, or maybe the problem is on the editors’ end over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, because some of these letters are just real winners. This particular letter, which expressed support for burqa bans as a means of promoting American identity and freedom, really just pushed one too many buttons, and I know the author of the letter is not the only person harboring these views (in America or abroad), so I’d like to address the flawed thinking behind it.

Mr. Watkins writes responding to opposition expressed by Soumaya Khalifa of the Islamic Speakers Bureau over a bill proposed in the GA legislature which would have banned the wearing of any face covering. The bill has already been withdrawn, but Mr. Watkins seems to think that was a mistake. Whereas Khalifa argued that the bill was “un-American,” Mr. Watkins disagrees, claiming that Khalifa simply “misunderstands American culture.” The wearing of a veil covering the face is “of a completely different cultural tradition,” because “Americans do not cover their face in public.” Americans “do not subjugate women.” American is “an open society.” Covering your face amounts to rejecting American culture and expresses a “desire to remain unassimilated.”

Where to start…

Continue reading ““American Culture,” Burqa Bans, and the Need to Embrace the Other”

Teaching Islam in Schools (or an Ode to Coach Landau)

So, I’m back. I forgot I had a blog for about three years, but I’m back. Why am I back? Well, let me tell you…

I love Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are my chance to sit down with a cup of coffee and just read the paper in the quiet of my apartment. I get to catch up on the latest in politics or read up on the latest loss for my Braves/Titans/Demon Deacons. This is normally a quiet and almost meditative experience, giving me the chance to step away from technology and the world for a little bit and just slow down.

The quiet was shattered this morning as I found myself engaged in an argument with the paper in my hands. My anger was directed toward an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled “Lessons about Islam stir mixed feelings in parents.” School districts in Georgia have been teaching their students about religions, including Islam, as a part of the social studies curriculum, and some parents are not thrilled.
Continue reading “Teaching Islam in Schools (or an Ode to Coach Landau)”