In a recent broadcast on the Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, commentator Touré remarked that he believed that “Moslem” was the new “N-word”. He commented that the word Moslem “gets you to black, scary, and angry, without the icky scent of feeling racist.” Is Moslem really the new “N-Word”? Is the backlash against the proposed Ground Zero Mosque just complaints from racists? My argument is that Moslem and black are not synonymous, and opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque are not necessarily racist.
Black and Moslem are Not Synonymous
Black and Moslem are not one and the same, and most Americans know this. While it may be true that more African-Americans find the Islamic faith appealing than whites, an overwhelming majority (83%) describe themselves as Christian. Another 10% either have no religion or are atheists; that leaves 7% of the population for other religions, including Islam. Although there have been vocal black Moslems in America’s history, Christian Gospel music is heavily influenced by black people. Additionally, Islam is a religion that is quite popular among Middle Eastern people (who are not black). It is ridiculous to argue that the Islamic and African American populations in America are equivalent.
There’s More to the Ground Zero Mosque than Peaceful Islam
The more that American’s learn about the Ground Zero Mosque, the less Americans like about the idea. While the initial reaction of many Americans was that it was insensitive to try to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero in New York City, even more dislike the idea when they learn about the Imam that is expected to lead this mosque. This Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has stated that “United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” when referring to the terrorist attack on September 11th.
“Moslem” is Not the Same as the “N-Word”
While the N-Word has a long history of being a derogatory term, Moslem has not. It is true that there are people that disagree with the Moslem faith, but even among the people that do not like the Islamic faith, the percentage of people that hate all Moslems is small. It is perfectly acceptable to describe someone as a Moslem if that is their faith; hatred of that person is not necessarily implied. On the other hand, when people use the N-word, they normally do not mean it in a value-neutral way (the one big exception being black people when they use the word among themselves).
Although there are people that don’t like Moslems, and there are people that don’t like black people, it is ridiculous to argue that “Moslem” has become code language for the N-word.
60 Minutes. Interview on YouTube.
Black America Study.com, Radio One.