rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
The other day I read an article about anti-vaxxers, and the ironic yet scientifically-based truth that being presented with real scientific facts proving vaccines are beneficial has a tendency to make anti-vaxxers MORE anti-vax than they were to begin with. The researcher in question specializes in why people believe passionately about issues to the point of unreasonableness-- not just vaccine issues, but any high-charged polarizing issue. And hearing that they've discovered that people just tend to dig their heels in MORE when presented with contradicting evidence (on whatever issue), makes me feel so HOPELESS. I want to show people a better way! I feel it might be my calling in life to open eyes and hearts of people, to help them learn to listen to and respect each other. But I just see it CONTINUING, the constant hardening of hearts, the constant my-people-are-better-than-your-people, the constant... I don't know, CLOSED COMMUNITIES feeding themselves the same incomplete information over and over, the same biases, the same NOBODY LEARNING ANYTHING. What good does my proselytizing do when the only people who read what I have to say either (most of the time) already agree with me or (rarely, but if I HAD a wider audience this is basically what that researcher is talking about) have already made up their mind to disagree with me?

I'm constantly reblogging/sharing/whatevering stuff about the Importance of Libraries and all the good things that are happening there, I just want the world to KNOW, but I'm preaching to the choir, because again, everyone who follows me is a library lover, and people who aren't, people who DO believe libraries are outdated and useless, they're not listening to me anyway. AND IT'S SO FRUSTRATING.

But the thing that's really got my goat right now is anti-Muslim sentiment. Mostly because it seems to be propagated by the same people who give Christianity a bad name, and I think the hypocrisy bothers me the most. I've been seeing these articles springing up, mostly on Facebook because, you know, Facebook, that either carelessly equate "Muslim" and "Terrorist" or outright state that All Muslims Have an Agenda of Hate and Destruction. The one that most boggled my mind equated The Rise of Muslims with The Rise of the Nazis* because some Muslims had published horrible Anti-Semitic screeds, and I'm like, "Wait, isn't this a horrible Anti-Islamic screed?" If I had actually asked that of the people who had posted it, they would have said, "No, no, we're just trying to get the truth out there!" Except you didn't SAY "Some Muslims are pushing anti-Semitic agendas." You said "Islam must be stopped! The Muslims are trying to trick us into believing they're a religion of peace to distract us from what they REALLY have planned!"

I hope you all see the difference. Of course you do, you read my stuff. And the people who can't see the difference don't care. They think, if they're reading this at all, that I'm being TOO tolerant, allowing Evil to flourish. And, as certain studies suggest, they're probably becoming even more stubborn in their opinion. SO MUCH MENTAL KICKING OF THINGS GOING ON IN MY HEAD.

You know why I'm not being too tolerant by saying this? You know why me posting this IS, in fact, calling out Evil rather than allowing it to flourish? Because I'm a Christian who is frequently appalled by the behavior of many of the most loud and prominent "Christians" in our society. People who beat others over the head with their "Christianity" while simultaneously supporting totally un-Christian agendas. I follow a Jesus who welcomed outsiders, respected those whom society shunned, healed the sick and fed the poor, who told his followers they could not serve both God AND money, who occasionally eschewed the dogmatic Rules of his religion in order to do the merciful thing instead, and who was REALLY BIG on calling out hypocrisy. That's where I learned that word-- church. (Well, the word was "hypocrites," which I thought was a very funny word, being a kid. But as I grew, the more aware of the concept I became...). Because the social and religious leaders of Jesus's community did not practice what they preached, all while claiming to be so pious. FAMILIAR STORY, 'n it, especially here in the United States. When these people embrace xenophobia and us-vs.-them, greed, hatred, war, and then claim it's all in the name of our Christian Nation, it doesn't save anybody's soul, let alone their own. In fact it drives people away from Christianity. I can't count how many people I've encountered who hate Christians, or at least think Christianity is a horrible religion, because of the actions of this prominent and vocal few.

...you know, just like hating and mistrusting Muslims and Islam because of the actions of a prominent and vocal few. A hypocritical few whom the average believer would say have totally misinterpreted scripture to the point where it's completely opposite what it should be.

I am not tolerant of "Muslims" who are terrorists. Just like I'm not tolerant of anyone else who's a terrorist. Just like I'm here being Not Tolerant of those Christians who have warped and abandoned the Gospel in the name of Christianity.

By calling out Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, prejudice in any form, I'm not excusing the crimes that people in whatever group have committed. I'm saying your claim of "they're ALL like that" is bogus, short-sighted, and downright dangerous. "Okay, there are SOME exceptions, but MOST of them are like that." Well, I'm sorry you've had bad experiences with the people of that group whom you've encountered. Guess what, I've had mostly good experiences. It's not a matter of me "not knowing what they're really like," because I get that one from prejudiced types, too-- this claim that I'M naive, THEY have experience with Those People, THEY know what they're really like. Is that so? Why do you know and not me? Why do my positive experiences not count while your negative experiences do? ARE YOU NOT SEEING THE DISCONNECT HERE?

So just STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT WORLD! THINK before you generalize! I don't care what your political leanings are, your religious or ethnic background is, the amount or lack thereof of your Privilege, whenever you make a statement that claims All Someones Are Something that is not a direct part of the DEFINITION of being a Someone, you need to stop and evaluate where you've gotten your information.

Because it's a big world full of all sorts of different people. But in the end we're all human, and we deserve to be treated with respect.


*yes, I'm aware of the Internet Rule about things eventually being compared to Nazis but I'm not going into that right now.

Date: 2015-02-12 03:51 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] vovat.livejournal.com
I seem to recall wondering when I was a kid if the word "hypocrite" had anything to do with horses. This would have been after I learned that "hippopotamus" means "river horse."

Date: 2015-02-12 01:44 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rockinlibrarian.livejournal.com
Hah, you nerd!* I just thought directly about hippos. ;)

*(For clarity's sake I'd like to point out to the Internet that I always use this word in the most complimentary way. It's one of those "reclaiming" things)

Date: 2015-02-12 08:17 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] vovat.livejournal.com
You mean there's a NON-complimentary way I could take that? {g}

For Amy's Thoughtfulness

Date: 2015-02-12 05:07 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
http://www.amazon.com/Wiser-Getting-Beyond-Groupthink-Smarter/dp/1422122999?tag=dailyshowbooklist-20

You may find the evidence in this book useful. It's not his best work (he's better at academic writing at least for me) but it's worth looking at his statistics.

Also, your writing is so interesting because it brings out the one problem I always have being a historian of religion and immigration at my museum. NO, one should not generalize about any group, but what happens when we have overwhelming evidence of racism, xenophobia, etc. in a religious or cultural group? How do we address it? I can't tell you of the amount of [triangulable] research in my field that reveals just how many Jews think Islam is inferior, or Muslims who hold shockingly anti-semitic views of Jews, for example. I also have evidence in surveys taken of hundreds of thousands of Christians who use their religion to justify things such as homophobia, rape, and anti-semitism. These studies are ALL done in countries classified as "Western." In other words, economically stable, high literacy and education rates, etc.

These studies also show that an education has little influence on changing these views. In fact, the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to stick to that view!

What do we do then? I have absolutely no problem calling out people in their a historical ideas or incorrect knowledge about a religion on Facebook or otherwise. (I used to do it for a living outside of Planned Parenthood.) It doesn't make me any friends, which is fine, but that's not how relationships can be built. HOW DO YOU FIND THE BALANCE between calling out your friends (which is, incidentally, proven scientifically to work in changing people's opinions on religion more successfully than articles or books, and about equally as successfully as movies) and not being a jerk?

If research (like vaccine research) is telling us bigotry and racism is rampant in religious groups, and is also telling us calling out our friends in those groups spreading such hatred is the best way to combat that, then what are we to do?

Thanks for your thoughtfulness. :)

Addendum

Date: 2015-02-12 05:12 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
Just posted that big comment and realized I'm as Anonymous and forgot to say this is Jessica AND that the issue I wrote to you about is something I face every day at the museum. Sometimes I go home and think "Really, how do people think these things about other people?"

Re: Addendum

Date: 2015-02-12 01:37 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rockinlibrarian.livejournal.com
Hah, I did guess it was you, figuring a religious historian at a museum reading my blog would more likely be someone I knew than a random religious historian who just happened to stumble on it! :D

You know how shy I can be in person. When I write, even on the Internet for theoretically anyone to see, I'm much braver about speaking my mind, and I think, weirdly, it's BECAUSE I see it as something like an article, as opposed to just talking to my friends. But it IS mostly my friends who read this, or people who know me in a friendly capacity online at least-- it's THERE for the general public, but I guess I AM speaking more directly. So I guess speaking up, here at least, CAN make a bit of a difference.

Date: 2015-03-29 05:03 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
Yes! Speak it! And keep living it, too. I think modeling the actions of acceptance can have a huge impact in the world, as well. So glad you are doing this work against closed-mindedness!!!

My tiny cell phone screen isn't working with the "who are you" button

Date: 2015-03-29 05:05 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
... But that was me, your friend Angie from Colorado, by the way. :-)

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