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Fear mongers delight in spewing hate.

Since 9-11, one of their favorite targets seems to be Muslims. Muslims in general—no distinctions among sects and offshoots. No hoods and burning crosses in the 21st Century. Today they hide behind the anonymity of the internet, polluting cyberspace with stuff often innocently titled “Information about _________” (insert topic: Obama, the evils of government, Muslims). Sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? After all, most Americans are willing (eager?) to learn about people and cultures with which we are unfamiliar. But, often as not, the stuff that frequently gets passed around today is vicious MISinformation.

The writers generalize about a whole umbrella culture by focusing on beliefs and actions of fanatics. The fear is upped several degrees when we see the “success” of groups like ISIS, but I wonder how self-styled Christians would like it if they were to be judged by humanity at large on the actions and beliefs of, say, snake-handlers or a Jim Jones cult?

Recently, one of these diatribes popped up in my email purporting to lament the plight of women under Islam with a dire warning about what the jihadists have planned for American women when they (inevitably) establish Sharia law over the ignoramuses in main street America.

True: Women in the Middle East pay a heavy price for their life as human beings because fate gave them a certain set of chromosomes. For a sober look at the life of ME women behind closed doors and under Taliban-like edicts, I recommend three books. Jan Goodwin’s The Price of Honor is a collection of real-life accounts of how women fair in several Middle East countries. If nothing else, the book shows a tremendous variety of laws and beliefs that parallels the variety one finds in Christian-dominated states. The Price of Honor predates America’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, but it is still appallingly accurate, I think. Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azer Nafisi, gives another insightful look at the struggles of women in a country run by the most conservative (fanatical?) practitioners of their religion. Finally, I recommend a novel by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Hosseini, a naturalized American citizen who grew up in Afghanistan, knows and understands well the women of his native culture.

It is an on-going struggle, but women in the West may rejoice that we are freer than our sisters in the Middle East. Had it been up to most “Christian” men in America, though, women today would not be able to own property on their own, vote, serve on juries, enter certain professions, and so on. Few American women would even consider living life under Islamic law as practiced by the ayatollahs or the Taliban, but how many would like to return to 19th Century America or England? My point is that in the West women themselves were largely responsible for their “liberation” (aided and encouraged by enlightened males!), and it will probably be women in the Middle East who win their own freedom (aided and encouraged by enlightened males).

Spreading fear of some grand jihad is not going to advance the conservative (evangelical?) cause—nor is it going to make America a better place. In an area at least equal in size to the U.S. and with a total population exceeding ours, one finds as many disparate religious and political factions in Islamic as in Christian nations. As for Muslims or any other religious faction “taking over” in America— Well, call me naïve, but I have more faith in our system—and in our people—than that!