Thursday, July 07, 2016

Language Matters

I shared this image on Facebook this morning.

Tod is my first cousin once removed. He's a cool, smart guy, I like him a lot. But I was uncomfortable with his response to my post, but I couldn't fully articulate why. It felt like a brush off, like a response that people ( get when we are dismissed. Like I don't know why I posted this. Like I need a lesson.

So I replied "Nope" because what the fuck else what I supposed to say in that moment?!

And I thought about it all afternoon. Like I have been thinking about Philandro Castile, and Alton Sterling, and Lavish Reynolds, and BLM TO, and the people of Turkey and Baghdad...

And I wanted to respond. I want to respond.

Thankfully, I was doing dishes tonight so I had some time to think and keep my hands busy. And this is what I came up with.

Language is important, it is powerful. It influences the way we look at and interact with the world and the people in it. And it reveals and protects and reinforces privilege and ignorance.

All I have to do is look at how people portray and talk about (white) male rapists ("lost potential"), or black shooting victims ("troubled history, criminal record"), or throw around the words "crazy" and "retarded" to know how devastating labels are.

Us white people have a hard time with the words "Muslim" and "Terrorist." We tend to equate them: Muslim = Terrorist. We don't tend to label the Christians or atheists who commit terror crimes as "Christian Terrorist". Look at Robert Dear, who terrorized his partner, and his neighbours, and abortion clinics. We call him a "misunderstood loner". We don't equate his religion with his crimes, and we don't paint all others like him with the same brush (perhaps to our detriment, but that's another blog post...).

Any step that I can take with my use of language to combat the inherent racism, discrimination, and intolerance in a word or label, I'm going to do it.

So yes, Daesh calls themselves "Muslims" and says they are doing the work of Islam. But to them I say fuck off. You are unlike any Muslim I have ever known, ever heard speak, ever watched react to their community being destroyed by bombs (and by hate). I refuse to connect Daesh to these Muslims.

And it might just be "semantics" but that is everything.

1 comment:

  1. Hey - thanks for sharing. Not an easy post to write, or an easy subject for anyone to talk about, which gives us all the more reason to do just that. Thanks for getting the dialogue started.


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