“You’re a muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
We’ve probably all seen this video, and if you haven’t, then take a look at the bottom. I’ve watched it about 10 times since it went viral a few days ago, and each time I become more angrier than before. Mainly because of the anchor, Lauren Green, questioning why anyone would want to expand their knowledge beyond their immediate circles, but also what makes me upset is that the views of Fox News, however much we all may loath them, doesn’t stem too far off from the way a lot of Americans think.
The opening question of why a Muslim would write about Christianity sums up how knowledge is viewed by too many Americans. It stems from a culture that sees gaining knowledge as something concrete–that what we learn needs to be immediately useful to us, which would explain why so many people are quick to dismiss a liberal arts education. These views are the product of a culture that says confronting one’s ignorance of anyone else’s culture is pointless. So according to Green, and so many other Americans, the only spaces we can expand our knowledge is in the communities we are directly apart of. Mentalities like these leave no room for intercultural dialogues, or a way of not just learning how to get along, but how to coexist with one another and move society forward.
It’s this way of thinking that has filled an American history of being scared of anything different and perpetuating ignorance. It’s this way of thinking that fueled the Red Scare during the Cold War and masked everything different–the Civil Rights Movement, The Women’s Movement, Labor Movements, and anyone else who fought for equality or a different approach to politics–as being Communist, without having a real definition of what that word actually meant. It’s the same way of thinking that deems it okay to suspect all African American men as criminals, and all people of Middle Eastern decent as terrorists.
This interview exposes a culture that has been brewing for far too long now. It’s a culture that that says, “be okay with the ignorant views you hold and don’t aspire for any knowledge that may change your views of others in a positive way, because that’s not useful to you.” It’s a culture that can barely tolerate–let alone accept–others.