Why We Must Reach Out To People Who Are Against Us

Sunday

WHEN YOU talk to people about basic, easily-validated information about Islam, more often than not you will get an argument. But the strange thing is the person will argue with you and yet clearly not know anything about Islam.

Why is this? What is happening? I mean, this doesn't exist for other things, does it? If the person doesn't know anything about how to fry chicken and you do, more often than not the person will listen to you politely and thank you for the information.

Why do you get such a different kind of response about Islam?

Because the person you're talking to has already gotten a great deal of "education" about Islam from mainstream media. Mainstream "news" organizations not only present themselves as unbiased, but they all agree with each other on Islam. I don't know if that's because the Islamic PR machine is so effective, or just because somehow the "anti-Islam" position has been associated with conservatives and most people in the mainstream media are liberals, or what. But the upshot is that the person you're talking to has heard everyone in authority that he listens to — NPR and PBS and NBC and CBS and ABC and even the last two presidents — all presenting an identical point of view. Namely, that Islam teaches peace and terrorists are just wackos who have mistakenly attributed their violence and political actions with Islam, but really it has nothing to do with Islam, and besides, most Muslims are peace-loving people, and they are a persecuted minority so not only should we not criticize them, but we should bend over backwards to make them feel welcome in this country because that's the kind of people we are.

When someone gets the same message from so many different sources, and only hears people with your point of view in little clips on mainstream news — clips long enough to make the person look like a madman, but short enough to give the commentator something to belittle — then they feel completely certain their point of view is right.

That's why he will argue with what you're saying about Islam, even though he actually knows nothing about Islam.

But we need to talk to these people. We need to reach them and influence them and convince them. I know it is hard work. I know it can be upsetting. But it needs to be done. If it isn't done by you, it probably won't get done at all with the people you know. And then all those people with that point of view are not only not on our side in this fight, they are actually unwittingly fighting on the side of the enemy (the orthodox Muslims who are working to achieve Islam's prime directive).

In the book, True Enough, the author points out something very interesting and illuminating for us in our struggle: Back in the day, there were only a few media outlets and they were all very similar. You'd see things you didn't agree with. So people might have been confident in their opinions, but you didn't see so much absolute certainty about "facts" that are just plain wrong. People don't argue as much about opinions now. They argue about facts. They each have totally different and completely opposing facts. As the author put it, we're living in a post-fact society.

The media has fractured into an overwhelming number of more specialized sources of information. People pay attention to what they're interested in. They watch what they like. So now they are getting much more selective exposure to information, and much less exposure to anything that disagrees with what they already think. People do the same thing with their friends. They tend to hang out the most with friends who agree with them. They talk about the most important issues most often with people who agree with them.

Someone who doesn't agree with your views on Islam has lots of apparent evidence that you are pathetically misguided, and that is one of the most maddening things about it — this attitude of condescension. You have read books and articles about Islam, studied it, learned all about it, you may be an expert on it, and someone who knows almost nothing about it is being condescending to you! Wow. It's enough to make you pop a vein.

But this is also a major reason why we must personally reach into their worldview and influence it, because normal exposure to their usual information sources will prevent any good information about Islam from ever reaching them.

We must overcome our anger and frustration and really connect to these people. This is our only hope. We need them on our side. When you bring just one person to your understanding of Islam, you are doing a double good: You're adding another soldier to our army and you are removing a soldier from their side at the same time.

Study the answers to objections. Participate in the new forum, Talk About Islam Among Non-Muslims, gaining and giving help and advice, and keep trying. Failure is not an option.

1 comments:

Jai Normosone 5:22 PM  

This piece just makes common-bloody-sense (but serves to remind us of things we forget).

Thanks for that - and keep up the great work :)

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