Growing up, i didn’t really appreciate school. Frankly a lot of it always seemed like busy work. Until this morning, I didn’t think there was ever any real reason why I had to read Eugene O’Neill in high school. Today however after reading some comments on the not a ground zero, non-mosque my education snapped into relevance in a way I could not imagine. What happened was simple. Someone made the argument that because the imam advocates for Shariah law we should be in opposition to the mosque. Someone responded to this by pointing out that there are many Christian leaders advocating for the bible to be our legal guide, and we don’t oppose them. The first person replied back with two wrongs don’t make a right yada yada yada.
All of this is rather banal in terms of this discussion; for the most part Americans don’t approach issues of discrimination in anything close to logic (sb1070, dadt, separate but equal). What I did next is what is important, and is rooted in my education. I pride myself on the things I know. However the most important thing i ever learned is that I don’t, in fact, know much of anything. As a result I must constantly be in the search for more knowledge. So this is what happened to me when I read this exchange:
You see I’ve learned a bit about the imam, and what I knew about him led me to believe he was a moderate religious figure, to hear that he advocated for Shariah law was in conflict of that perception. I mean everyone knows Shariah is evil, right? Well wait, what the hell is Shariah? I’ve heard it all over the news and every time I heard it used it was a pejorative. I mean that makes it evil. Except most of the times I heard that it was on fox, and fox tries to paint liberal as a pejorative, and I’m a liberal… And I’m reasonably sure I’m not wholly evil. So what the hell is Shariah again? Let me look it up. Low and behold Shariah actually refers to simply God’s law. Meaning that a priest is advocating for God’s law, everyone STOP THE PRESSES!
Like I said this article isn’t about the ongoing discrimination of Muslims trying to build a community center. What this article is about is the complete breakdown of knowledge in America. Words like madrassa and Shariah, are thrown around the news and because they are foreign and often put in the same context as terrorist we conflate the two with terrorist, because we are too damn lazy to look them up and see what they actually mean to the culture they are from. Figuring out how to comprehend complex subject matters is what school teaches us. That is what the busy work was for. The actually information we acquired in school was important but not nearly as important as honing the skills of critically analyzing new information as it comes to us in our daily life. Often our strife comes from our inability to comprehend the new information. This is not the media’s fault. The media absolutely takes advantage of this, but in this day and age there is no excuse. We live in a world where you can hear a song, hold your phone in the direction of the music and not only learn who the artist is, but you can buy their whole discography, and we can’t spend 5 minutes to find out the difference between Shiite and Sunni. This ignorance has already cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of soldiers lives. Unless we learn to process the modern world better our next failure to comprehend could cost us everything.