The Ugly Things: Derision of West Not Entirely Misguided

When this made the rounds a couple weeks ago (along with a standing ovation from many Muslims) I wanted to respond to immediately, but my reaction was so visceral that I only would have been able to ramble off an incoherent rant.

In the columns, Al-Qarni compared a Saudi woman’s experience after being beaten by an abusive husband in the United States with what often happens — or doesn’t happen — in her native land. In the second column, Al-Qarni explored the reasons so many Muslims move to the US and find both greater opportunity and more tolerance that they could expect in their homelands. The thought-provoking articles have prompted many discussions at coffee shops and dinner tables.

Last night I found the words, someone else’s words in reaction to another Muslim speaker who was over emphasizing the good in American culture. From American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender Within the Ummah by Jamillah Karim-

“Lisa believes that ‘you cannot pick and choose’ what you consider to be the good parts of American culture and overlook the rest, ‘or else you don’t have American culture. American culture is chauvinism. American culture is racism. American culture is the ugly things that we don’t want to adopt, but becoming a part of American culture is adopting all these things.’ A person who can highlight the good but overlook the injustice in American society

obviously has not been to the Robert Taylor Homes or obviously has not hung out on the South Side [of Chicago] after midnight on a Friday in the middle of summer time, because he would see the condition the people are left in, whether it is the black community or the Lithuanian community or over on the other side of Marquette Park. He would see the conditions that these good people have left people in. He will also see the disparity between the snow plows on the streets in Chicago. [So when he overemphasizes the good], he just highlights the ugly part of America to me.

Exactly. So, alhumdiAllah this all worked out well for the sister. Depending on the location, the time of day, the hue of her skin, the hue of the officer’s, the mood, the quotas and so on–the variables were in her favor, this time. But that is not always the case and therefore justice does not live here—either.

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