Jason Criss Howk,
This story is one of the reasons why I travel around America talking to non-Muslims about Islam and Muslim cultures.
Read about two female bigots as they train their children to hate Muslims in Arizona.
In 2015 I retired from the Army and decided to take action to make America more tolerant through education.
I have been disappointed since 2001 to watch my presidents, our congress, the media, our educators, and our religious leaders fail to teach even the most basic elements of religious understanding in America. By 2015 I shockingly entered a civilian world in my own country that was more divided than ever about religion.
We have to keep talking, learning, and meeting people of different faiths so that we can become the United States again.
In three years I have learned a lot about bigotry. Fear is the number one driver.
I’ve also learned about America’s ignorance about religion. That ignorance comes in a few forms.
Often ignorance is not because of hatred, it’s simply because most people don’t study religion closely, even their own. America doesn’t talk about religion in polite circles so the loudest, and often incorrect, voices are all we hear on the news. We need to do a better job in our education systems to teach all religions and non-religious views or belief systems.
Sometimes ignorance is based on hatred. Hatred of anyone that doesn’t think like you. I often ask my most angry audience members how many Muslims they know, and often the answer is zero. And they are proud not to know anyone that is Muslim. They tell me they don’t want to ever meet anyone that is Muslim. Sadly there is little you can do to change a person’s life if that is their outlook. Luckily this is a small portion of the people I meet in America.
And maybe saddest of all ignorance comes from overconfidence. I have met many so called progressive thinkers that don’t want to hear anything new that might challenge their view on any religion…because they already know it all. These people are just as hard to reach as hateful people. I challenge them to open their minds to the good and the bad news about religions and how religions can be misused by humans.
Let’s keep talking about religion and tolerance of people that aren’t just like us, all people of all faiths.
Jewish people and centers in America continue to be the most targeted group for hate crimes but we should decrease bigotry towards all religions.
My offer still stands. I will talk to any audience, anywhere, anytime if they can get me there.
Maybe even CNN will keep its 5 month old promise to talk to me on-Air so America can have a rational and civil discussion about Islam. Unfortunately the media likes to bring on the hate-mongers and bomb throwers to keep their ratings up…our own free press owns a big share of the blame for our divisive religious situation in America.
We can overcome our divisions. We must.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
#Islam #Education #Tolerance #CNN #Veteran