My cousin recently forwarded me a really nasty piece of business fomenting fear about a radical Muslim takeover of America, where women will be treated as they are by the sickest of the Taliban, as the law of the land. My first reaction was sheer disgust and anger. Knowing that I had something to learn here, I walked away from it for a bit, then sat down and looked at my cousin’s fearful reaction AND my desire to lash out.
We’re most susceptible to fear and nasty stereotyping when we know very little about the people in question. In this case, we simply don’t know enough regular, peace-loving Muslims to see that they make up at least as big a majority of their population as peaceful folks do in ours. I think that extreme radicals are definitely scary. For instance, I firmly believe that the bombing in Oklahoma City demonstrated that the U.S. could be bombed. Without that, I would argue that it would have been many more years before outsiders would have felt confident that they could successfully attack the U.S. We were undone by radical Christians who showed others what could be done.