Too often I find that what I write is prompted by a catalyst or inspiration to repudiate some hateful ignorance I find promoted by faulty right wing media, including the right wing blogosphere. That is the case here, pushing back against conservative promotion of revisionist history, factual misrepresentation, bigotry, and intolerance. There are three examples between part 1 and part 2.
Their willingness to gin up hate, fear and especially to create an unjustified sense of being the victims of groups of people they are attempting to exclude, marginalize, ostracize, and penalize is particularly abhorrent. Worse, these are the actions one associates with fascists and other forms of authoritarian tyranny, NOT freedom or democracy.
Nothing promotes antagonism and division, or retaliation, more than the right wing premise that inferior groups of people are somehow obtaining protected class status, that they are getting something conservatives are being denied, at the expense of conservatives. This appears to be a driving force in the 2016 election cycle on the right along with pushing terrorism fears.
An example this week was a right wing blog that made the unverified claim that Somali Muslims in St. Cloud were being given special prayer privileges and special cafeteria consideration, while Christians were being denied the full and equal practice of their faith and culture.
A word press blog with no apparent credentials for facts or fairness called the Extract was circulating this, which appears to be part of their routine promotion of Islamophobia. From there it circulated more widely in the right wing blogosphere.
I have no idea what the author meant by ‘corporate Christian prayer’, but this has all the elements of an attempt to create outrage over pro-Islam religious bias.
There is no evidence of FACT that the Muslim students are receiving special treatment, or that any other group has ever requested space for prayer. It is also worth noting that there is no claim that any employee of the school district is LEADING the Muslim prayers, or even an indication that Somali students sought or are making use of either the menu options or prayer options.
However, as to food service in public schools, I can certainly recall growing up Protestant in a public school where there was consistently fish or other non-meat menus on Fridays in deference to the dietary preferences of Catholic students. The accommodation for Muslim students in the cafeteria is pork free options – which arguably benefit any Jewish students who wish to avoid pork as well, but you won’t find any acknowledgement of that. I would also point out that the menu selections has long been one that favored white Christian Minnesotan tastes, people who are the dominant and powerful element in St. Cloud. Expanding selections does not detract from serving that white Christian student constituency, contrary to the sense of white Christian victimization the Extract is promoting.
What is also missing is any acknowledgement that the students and their families in St. Cloud Minnesota have been treated badly previously, a larger context to efforts by the school system. That pertinent fact would diminish the ginned up false outrage. It underlines the deliberate intent to be unfair and to be biased.
Here is that context provided by the original PBS article; take a good look before reading the anti-Muslim blog post further down.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a federal civil rights complaint against the St. Cloud school district in 2011, alleging a hostile environment for the district’s Somali students that included widespread and frequent harassment based in large measure, on religion. The majority of the Somali community is Muslim. Five years later, remnants of that tension remain. “The St. Cloud school district is a long way away from really being a place where all students feel completely welcome,” said Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the council’s Minnesota chapter.
“When you’re separated, it’s really hard to feel like you’re a part of the community,” assistant superintendent Marsha Baisch said. “You feel different, you feel other.”
Some students still feel that way.
A 2011 settlement ending a federal civil rights investigation of the treatment of Somali students in St. Cloud requires the school district to report all allegations of harassment.
That last paragraph strongly suggests a finding of harassment and other problems were found to exist, and the efforts made were to correct problems for people who were genuinely victimized.
Again quoting from the PBS article – legitimate journalism – it is worth noting that the contributions of Somali students to the school were omitted.
Somali student-athletes played key roles on Apollo High’s 2014 state championship soccer team, and track and field teams have drawn plenty of Somali participants. The district has partnered with the University of Minnesota to develop uniforms for female athletes who wear hijab, the headscarves worn by some Muslim girls and women.
And here is the hate-blog take on the PBS article; how it promotes an unbalanced view of right wing white Christian victimization should be obvious from both what is included and what is omitted. The other posts on the blog show that this is no isolated but rather a persistent pattern of hate peddling. Conservative bigots seem particularly outraged when their efforts at bigotry are undone or obstructed. They want no obstruction, no let or hindrance to their bad and hurtful behavior.
Minnesota district restores prayer to public school — but only for Muslim students
Buried deep in a PBS article about how the St. Cloud, Minn., school district is accommodating a large Somali population was a telling example of religious bias. While public schools have appropriately been barred from leading students in
corporate Christian prayer, this district is going out of its way to satisfy the desires of the Muslim community.
“In the district’s middle and high schools,” the report stated, “Muslim students have access to private rooms with prayer rugs for the five daily prayers.”
Furthermore, Muslim kids will have access to special lunchroom menus and other faith-based perks not extended to students of other faiths.
We should be proud of St. Cloud’s response to a problem of bigotry and bullying, and we should be proud of the national recognition for Minnesota as a decent place to live for all citizens, including immigrants, and for our religious tolerance.That justifiable pride has to include pushing back against the bigots wherever they promote hate, fear, intolerance and exclusion. The right is rife with it, it is a persistent meme, a leitmotiv.