Fear breeds hate. Since 9/11 Muslim Americans have seen this first hand.
So, of course after terrorists killed over 120 innocent people in Paris, many non-Muslim Americans, perhaps fearing our country is next, have responded with hatred toward an entire group of people. From more than half the states in this country’s refusal to take in refugees from Syria, to vandalism of mosques, to threats of violence, Islamophobia is on the rise.
I fear that our children will mirror this trend and we will see a rise in the numbers of Muslim students being bullied, harassed, or physically harmed in school.
In a report (link to pdf) released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations
last month, 52% of Muslim students in California surveyed reported that they have been bullied or harassed in school because of their religion. This was a slight increase from the 50% who responded similarly in 2012. While the numbers are probably different in other states, I do not believe California Schools are definitely not alone in facing this issue.
Keep in Touch on Facebook!
On Monday, I received a two emails: one from the state system of colleges, and the other from my college’s president, both urging student’s to be kind to their Muslim classmates and stand up against racism. It saddens me that this message needs to be sent out, that we are so used to the hateful responses that we can predict them enough to be proactive.
But at least some of us are being proactive.
We need to be proactive, not only in our colleges, but in our elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and our homes. When we talk to our children about terrorism let’s not limit the discussion to trying to help them make sense of what happened, but helping them understand our nation responses and how those responses might make their way into the classroom. And how, just like any other form of bullying, our kids need to stand up against Islamophobia.
Whether they’re reminding their classmates that not all Muslims are terrorists, or simply telling an adult when another child is being bullied, they will be standing against hate. And in standing against hate they will be standing against terrorism.
In times of great devastation and fear such as these, we always have a choice, to breed hate, remain passive, or work toward peace. Let’s make sure we don’t forget to teach our children which one is the best response.